Pamela Vaull Starr said ‘Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.’

In my research to be able to write these articles, teach students, write coaching material, when it comes to goals there seems to be a large number of very appropriate quotes. Pamela’s quote explains that our dreams, our aspirations precede each goal we achieve. She also says that we should reach high … well Eleanor Roosevelt agreed with that when she said ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’ Karen Ravn said ‘Only as high as I reach can I grow, only as far as I seek can I go, only as deep as I look can I see, only as much as I dream can I be.’ In all of these quotes we are being told that we can achieve what we can dream and we can dream big. I remember at the turn of this century when I was training to be a coach I was on a coaching mailing list and one of the emails on this list drew my attention. The reason it did was the one of the coaches in the USA was working with a client whose dream was to become the ‘next’ USA president. He explained in his email that the client was someone of wealth, but not someone well known in his own business circle let alone in the public arena … so how was he going to be elected to become the ‘next’ president of the USA? The reason for this email was not to explain how he achieved his goal or even if he did, but how this coach’s client was able to dream big. At a similar time I remember talking to a coaching colleague in the UK who had a client who had asked her if she had worked with someone else who was on track to become a millionaire – she hadn’t and this client was the first who’s dream was large enough to see himself as a millionaire. He went on to achieve his dream in a short space of time.

Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at your dreams and working with each one of them. Before we move into the next phase of your personal achievement(s), think about the quote from Mahatma Gandhi ‘We must become the change we want to see.’ When looking at each dream that you are now working with, ask yourself ‘do I want to become this change?’ If the answer is no, thinking back to when you first had this dream, ask yourself the reason you don’t want to become this change. If there is a fear, uncertainty, no confidence in your own ability to achieve it, don’t worry about it, it’s natural to have concerns – capture the information and we will look at that in future articles. Sometimes it’s the fear of failure that moves us away from trying to achieve our dreams. Winston Churchill said ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.’ E.E. Cummings said ‘To be nobody but yourself in a world that’s doing its best to make you somebody else, is to fight the hardest battle you are ever going to fight. Never stop fighting.’

So now is your opportunity to succeed and turn the dreams you’ve had or have into goals and start to work towards achieving them. Henry Ward Beecher said ‘The ability to convert ideas to things is the secret to outward success.’ Over the next few weeks we’ll work our way through a wonderful process used in a variety of industries, but updated for the coaching industry. You may have heard of the original but for coaching it’s enhanced from the well-know SMART process and is called the SMARTER process; and is Rule 2 of Goal Setting.

In this article we’ll focus on:

  • ‘S’ for SPECIFIC. To convert a dream into a goal, as you start to define each goal it must have a specific objective rather than a vague target. A dream often has a vague target. For example saying ‘I want to lose weight’ is a dream, an aspiration – it does not allow you to be specific and to convert your dream into a goal. To do this you must know how much weight you want to lose. Larry Elder is quoted as saying ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’ Being specific, where you say ‘I want to lose 5 kilos in weight’ allows you to focus on the actual specifics of your dream and in this way you are turning it into a goal.
  • ‘M’ for MEASURABLE. When you think about measuring a goal, think about how you know when you have achieved your goal? Taking the easy option to explain this, think about the statement above in relation to loosing weight. Saying ‘I want to lose weight’ doesn’t give you an idea as to when you’ve achieved your goal – you have nothing to measure the goal achievement against; whereas saying ‘I want to lose 5 kilos in weight’ gives you a clear measure of 5 kilo’s. To allow you to measure that you have lost the 5 kilos, you would take your weight now and monitor your weight lose over a period of time. When you reach the weight that is 5 kilos less than when you started, you will know that you’ve achieved your goal.

Before we progress with any more of the elements of the SMARTER process, take each of your dreams and on the page under the dream write down the specific or specifics of what you want from this dream. To give you an example, over the past 12 to 18 months I’ve been losing weight … during the 15 years of my marriage my weight increased from a size 10/12 to a size 20. In April 2009 one of my closest friends – Julie – made a comment as we were walking along the promenade in Jardim do Mar, which made me look at myself in the way that others would see me. As much as I always said I was happy with the way I looked, it did make me think …! I sat down and decided to create a goal that would allow me to loose weight gradually without any outside influences being brought to bear. So rather than weighing myself (and getting more despondent about my size) I decided that the specific for my goal was to loose 5 sizes. Then I came to the ‘measurable’ element of setting my goal – again when it comes to weight you suddenly think in terms of kilos, stones, and/or pounds. I still didn’t really want to think about the amount of weight that I wanted to lose so I thought a way of measurement was ‘size 12’; but when you research sizes of women’s clothes you realise that no two manufacturers manufacture to exactly the same size, so I had to think in terms of kilos, stones and/or pounds. Actually it wasn’t too bad as I still haven’t weighted myself at my ‘biggest’ size but have agreed that my ‘measurement’ is set to ‘size 12’ and 60 kilos. My thoughts here was that this would allow me to start to weigh myself when my current size 14 jeans feel as though they are getting too big. So in line with my goal I have set that I was to loose 5 sizes and I will be successful when I reach a size 12 and weight no more than 60 kilos.

As Suzanne Oggenfuss said ‘It is better to aim for the stars and hit the moon, than to aim for the trees and hit the ground.’ So when you are looking at your specifics and how you’ll measure your goal aim for the stars.

Using rule 2, work through each dream within each segment of your Wheel of Life and clearly write down what specific or specifics you want from each dream. Once you’ve done that work through each dream again and think how you would measure your success when you’ve achieved your goal. If you find yourself discarding dreams as you are working through this process, don’t worry; what you will be left with will be the dream or dreams you truly wish to achieve.

In the next article we’ll progress with Rule 2.