Last week I gave two examples illustrating how powerful it is to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal technique to clarify your goals and explode your productivity. [Download a free SMART Goals worksheet here.] But that technique alone does not directly address the daily pursuit of your goals — that is, how do you make sure you do what needs to be done each day to achieve your goals?
I’ve added two more criteria to help you create S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals:
Begin with the End in Mind
Stephen Covey’s second habit in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the End in Mind.” The end means your end. Literally, the end of your life. Imagine yourself at the end of your life, reflecting back on everything you did and everyone you knew. How would you like to feel about your life? What purpose would you like your life to have served? This end-of-life perspective helps you see what’s important and what’s not. It helps you define your mission in life.
Looking at your goal from this end-minded perspective will show you how your goal fits into the greater context of your life and your mission.
For example, let’s say your mission includes being a loving and supportive parent. Eating more fruit and vegetables will reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease and increase your life span. As a result, you will live longer and have more energy, and therefore be better able to help your children raise their children. How many days with your grandchildren will you give up so you can snack on cookies instead of carrots?
Motivation in the moment can be fleeting. The texture and taste of a salad is not enough to motivate most people when they have the option of eating a slice of pizza instead. But eating that salad becomes much easier when it is linked to something meaningful to you, like your role as a parent or grandparent. Use this end-minded perspective to drive you in the moment.
When you go through this process, it is quite possible that you will find your goal is not a part of your greater mission in life. Or worse, you will find that your goal is in conflict with your mission. That is the time to re-evaluate your goal and decide if it is important enough to pursue in the first place. There is nothing wrong with letting go of a goal that is wrong for you. In fact, it is quite healthy.
The Power of Consistency
The quality of your life — your happiness, success, and health — is determined by your habits, that is, the thoughts you have and the actions you take on a regular basis.
Whenever you develop a habit, you are harnessing the power of consistency whether you are aware of it or not. Why not use it to your advantage? Small actions repeated again and again will erode mountains and turn rocks to sand. The power of consistency carved the Grand Canyon.
Advertisers know the power of consistency. If you see or hear something often enough, you will buy their products (everything from mouthwash to politicians). Investors know the power of consistency. Investing five dollars a day, every day, will make you a millionaire. Athletes know the power of consistency. They understand that, in the words of Jim Rohn, you can’t hire someone to do your pushups for you.
Many of our habits are created unconsciously, but you can be proactive in the creation of your habits by performing daily rituals. When you create simple rituals and perform them every single day, they become powerful habits that require almost no motivation.
For example, if your goal is to eat more fruits and vegetables, create a lunch ritual that consists of eating a raw vegetable salad. Add some sensory stimuli to the ritual to make it more enjoyable. When I was first training myself to eat more raw vegetables, I would watch television as I ate. I picked a show that I enjoyed, and I would lose myself in it as I ate my big raw salad. Music is a great aid, too, especially for exercise-related goals.
Here’s another example: Let’s say the bulk of the paperwork in your inbox comes from interoffice mail that is delivered to you throughout the day. You can create a ritual of opening your mail at the same time each day, and addressing each piece as you open it (completing each task that takes less than ten minutes and scheduling the others into your planner).
Whenever you set a goal, look for ways to create simple rituals that will help you achieve it. (The Special Report, Create or Break Any Habit in Only 5 Minutes explains a powerful, yet simple process to build rituals in only minutes a day.)
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goal Setting
To summarize, redefine your goals according to the following criteria:
©2005, 2008 Curtis G. Schmitt
Download a free SMART Goals worksheet
Find the resources you need to sky-rocket your productivity and increase your peace of mind, including a free worksheet to walk you step by step through the SMART Goals process. Visit TurnOnToLife.com