It’s the New Year, and every man, woman, or child with a blog within the personal development niche is talking about whether to set or to not set a new years resolutions. As A life coach, I am a huge advocate of goal setting and I passionately believe that goal setting should not be exclusive to the beginning of a new year but a necessary ingredient to a rich, fulfilling, and happy life. In humanities quest to reach a new level of contentment we have looked for ways to enable us to live our dreams, but somewhere along the way we stopped dreaming big in exchange for smaller, realistic, and attainable dreams.
We have become left brain obsessed. We set S.M.A.R.T goals and become distracted by ticking off a list of achievements that do not necessarily add value or more meaning to out lives. We focus on spreadsheets, and to do lists all designed to make goal achieving more efficient. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge worshipper of all things organisational, especially to do lists, calendars, spreadsheets, and the like. We focus too much on strategy and organisation that we leave very little room for creativity and dreaming big, and essentially we have forgotten what goal setting is really all about.
We have all heard of S.M.A.R.T goals, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals. We worship this technique thinking that it will lead us to a greater sense of fulfilment along with its by-product, happiness. If you look back over the lives of successful, happy and fulfilled individuals who have paved the way for us, you will notice that they all defied the rules of S.M.A.R.T goal setting, Bill Gates, NASA, William Wilberforce, Steve Jobs, J K Rowling, all had dreams that were seemingly impossible. We have allowed our left brain thinking to scare ourselves to think at a level that is ambitious or passionate, and, as a result, we fail to set goals that are at a life mission level or define what we will be known for. We have stopped dreaming of creating the next business empire to take over the world, or to serve millions of people. There is no joy or zest in creating S.M.A.R.T goal setting. I am certainly not saying to simply dream huge lofty dreams and to not take action. At some point, you do need to break a goal down into bite-sized chunks and really think it through, but many people create goals in this place of logic and strategy. Let’s put the passion and zest back into goal setting.
Dream Driven Goals
We need to start setting dream driven goals; these goals need to be full of passion and passion to the point where you are physically moved to take action. When I made the decision to continue to write my novel, I started back at the beginning of the creative process, which is an idea or dream, I entertained the idea until it was fully developed, then commenced the outlining process. I reached a point where I developed an overwhelming desire to write. I flipped open my MacBook and started writing the first chapter, it was innate. I simply couldn’t stop myself from starting the first chapter. I was excited and driven by passion; this is the same feeling you should have when you set goals. You too should have an overwhelming desire to take immediate action, an eagerness to do anything, to make it happen. If you create goals, that do not build excitement, and inspire immediate action, then you need to go back and dream bigger.
I am certainly, not saying wait until you are free of fear, and have a logical plan to achieve your goal, but simply to feel the natural fear that comes with starting something new and take the first small step. Take your focus of the how and start with the dream. Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.’ Take the first step, no matter how insignificant it may seem. It is crucial to start to build momentum through taking action when setting and achieving goals, it is the key to success and keeps you going when you reach life’s inevitable roadblocks. S.M.A.R.T goals allow you to focus on what is realistic and attainable for you, now, but the point of setting a goal, is to grow and reach new levels, and this often means going beyond what is realistic and attainable.
The ultimate example of setting a dream driven goal is the vision that started one of the largest search engines in the world, actually, it’s not just a search engine; it’s a technology empire. When you tell someone that you need to search for information in a web browser, what do you say? The majority of us say I need to Google… When Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out to start up Google, they didn’t start out with a dream to create a web browser, they set out to organise a seemingly infinite amount of information on the web. Their mission inspired the company name, which is essentially a play on the mathematical term googol, represented by the numeral 1, followed by 100 zero’s. Larry Page and Sergey Brin went beyond what was expected, a simple search engine for the world wide web to indexing over a trillion web pages and creating a technology empire.
Amplify Your Dream Driven Goals
How do you create a dream driven goal? I have created a simplified three-step to process to creating passionate and inspiring dream driven goals. The secret from going from left-brain, logical goal setting to a dream driven goal, is to make it larger or more powerful, simply put to amplify your dream driven goals.
The key to setting a dream driven goal or an AMP goal is to craft a goal that is attractive and compelling. What will fire you up? What excites you? What are you passionate about? Setting a goal such as, I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks, ticks all of the S.M.A.R.T goal setting boxes but isn’t attractive or compelling. A goal needs to arouse your attention; it needs to be compelling and important to you. Phrase your goals so they focus on the positive not on what you will lose by achieving the goal. Setting a goal such as, I am going to feel fit, healthy, energetic, vibrant and sexy person. Although this goal is a string of adjectives, it paints a picture in your mind of how you will look and evokes the desired response. When it comes to self-image and weight loss related goals, you are more willing to work out and make healthier choices when you are positive and feel good. This is especially true of goals in the other areas of your life. Phrase your goals in such a way that they are compelling, and motivate you to take immediate action. Goals need to be fun, compelling, meaningful, and in line with your life’s vision or mission. The key is to make a personal connection with the goal. If you make a connection you are far more likely to take action then, with a goal that has no personal value.
M – Method Focused
Set a method or map focused goal. I want you to think of methods or habits for this goal that would make achieving it, easier. If we go back to health related goal that was set in the previous paragraph, if you want to feel fit, healthy, energetic, vibrant and sexy, then you need to develop a set of habits that will help you get to a place where you goal is your new reality. It is important to make an assessment of your current situation, ask yourself how do I feel right now? What needs to change in my current situation? Choose, just one, the key is to start with one change and build upon that. Perhaps, you are constantly under pressure and as a result, you are feeling stressed. A constant state of stress is not in line with achieving your goal. You’re method or habit could be a simple as attending a yoga class three times a week, or maybe three times a week you will commit to going for a 6-mile run. The key is to create a set of methods or habits that you repeat over and over.
P – Procedure Triggered
The final step to the AMP goal method is, your goal needs to be procedure drive. What do I mean by procedure triggered? Each and every day we operate out of a habit loop. In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit, he highlights how we all live in a habit loop of Cue, Routine, and Reward. A never ending cycle that is all triggered by a cue or procedure that initiates a routine in order to receive a reward. It is important for you to develop a procedure that triggers the method or habit created in the previous step, by doing this, the method becomes second nature, and as a result you live consistently within your goal. If the method you chose was a simple as a 6 mile run, the procedure to trigger this could be a simple as your morning alarm clock, instead of continuing on with your previous method of rolling over and receiving a reward of feeling good provided by the sleep in, you can get up and go for a run and receive a rush of endorphins from the run. The reward and the procedure or cue remains the same but only the method changes. At first this will have to be a new deliberate behaviour but after some time, the 6-mile run will become second nature.
If you focus on setting logical, realistic, and attainable, S.MA.R.T goals you will never be a dreamer, innovator, or entrepreneur. You will fall into the trap of dreaming too small. I do not want you to be realistic. I want you to advance with reckless abandonment towards your life vision or mission.
As always insight without action is futile! Are you playing it safe with your goals? If so, look over your goals and challenge yourself to dream big and incorporate this into the SMART principle. Do you have any tips from your own experience on dreaming big and setting challenging goals? I want to hear from you please do so by starting or join in with the discussion below. Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting with such kindness and enthusiasm.