Do you set goals that don't work for you? The kind of goals that look good on paper but aren't in real life?
Do you feel frustrated every time you fail to achieve your goals?
If that's the case, you need a criteria to re-evaluate your goals. A system that is not only dependable but also supercharges your goal setting abilities.
You need to have a Stretch goal that is qualified by the SMART analysis.
Let's see how the two tango together.
But first, what is a Stretch goal?
It's basically the biggest dream or goal you currently have.
It could be the goal you've been yearning to attain since time immemorial.
It could also be the goal you set for yourself last month.
Regardless, your Stretch goal is your big target. The goal that clouds your mind every single time you think about it.
- Learning a new language
- Writing a book
- Enrolling in a martial arts class
- Running a marathon, etc
The list of Stretch goals is endless. We all have our own, each with its own life changing capabilities.
But we need to ensure that they're the right ones for us.
Nothing is as gruelling or as painstaking as embarking on a Stretch goal that isn't the right fit for you.
To do that, you need the SMART assessment.
What does the SMART analysis do?
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
- Specific - S
- Measurable - M
- Attainable - A
- Relevant - R
- Timely - T
The SMART assessment has one job to do — to qualify your Stretch goal.
I'll use an example. Let's say your Stretch goal is learning a new language. It's not a bad goal but it seems a little too vague.
Let's breathe some life to it.
To remove the vagueness of the goal, you need to specify the language that you intend to learn.
- Is it English?
- Or French?
- Maybe it's Swahili?
Specify — This is the first crucial step. Whatever goal it is you have, be specific. You have to know what you're aiming for from the get go.
The Specific criterion assists you to do that.
For the purposes of our example, the language you're intending to learn is French.
Now that we know you're learning French, we need to track your progress.
Progress here means positive growth. In other words, we need to know if you're moving or stuck.
- Will you take progressive exams once you start learning French?
- Will your tutor provide you any tools to track your progress?
Measure yourself — You need to visualize where you're going. You'll need tracking apps, exams, or any other measurable tool you'll find.
Never forget your progress.
Next, we need to ensure whether learning a new language is realistic or not.
- Are you going to learn French alone or are you going to enlist a tutor?
- Do you struggle learning languages?
- Do you have the means to learn French?
You set goals to achieve goals. But those goals have to be attainable in the first place.
Use this criterion to critically assess whether your current Stretch goal is achievable or not.
- Is there a major reason as to why you're learning French?
- Does learning French coincide with your current career or is it a standalone goal?
For our example, the major reason for learning French is because you have a job promotion at the end of the year.
That promotion will relocate you to a French speaking country hence the relevance of learning French.
When your Stretch goal is relevant, you have the motivation to achieve it. There's a major reason that fuels your pursuit for it.
This criterion is there to ensure that your goal is aligned with your interests. Use it wisely.
Nothing lasts forever, right?
You won't daydream about your Stretch goal forever nor will you pursue it till infinity.
You need a timeline, or better still, a deadline.
For our example, you want to learn French by the end of the year. Of course, you won't know everything but at least you'll learn the basics come year's end.
With a deadline comes focus. Use this focus to consistently work on your Stretch goal.
A good way is by coming up with a 30 or 60 day challenge that is wholly dedicated to your Stretch goal. Maybe the time won't be enough, but you'll have started and had some little progress.
Use this criterion to create a timeline for your stretch goal.
In a nutshell
- Identify that big goal you have and call it your Stretch goal.
- Next, qualify it to ensure that it's the right goal for you.
- To do that, you need to use the SMART assessment.
- Use each SMART criterion to critically assess your goal.
- If it qualifies, get started immediately to keep procrastination at bay.
PS: The Stretch and SMART goals strategy is brilliantly and elaborately discussed in Charles Duhigg's book, Smarter Faster Better.
It's an eye-opening book and I highly recommend it.
The next time you set out to achieve your goal, ensure that you've qualified it using the SMART assessment.
Once it passes the criteria, go ahead and give it your best shot. Give it all the focus and concentration it deserves and see where that goal takes you.
All the best.