Tag Archives: personal goals

How to Set SMART Goals & Make Dreams Happen!

SMART  Acronym-Image
SMART Acronym

A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

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Did you know that 1/3 of new year resolutions do not make it beyond January, let alone the middle of year? Even with the best of intentions to improve health, finances, make career moves, year after year, many people abandon their goals and plans by the end of February. There are many reasons to explain why some people fail to stick with their goals and execute their plans for personal and professional success. But perhaps the first and most important reason is that, they were not clear about their goals, the why behind them, what would be involved and the difference it would make if they achieved them. So, they put off their goals for another year or time and sometimes never get back to them.  Another reason for abandoned goals and plans is that some people get overwhelmed by the challenges of juggling competing priorities, managing their resources, or struggling to distinguish between the urgent and important. And others simply find it difficult to think long term and plan for their future.

So why is this problematic?

In my last post, I talked about the importance of effective time management and life management as keys to help us live meaningful and successful lives. And I know that some people see setting goals as a waste of time since we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But even though it is possible to achieve some of our objectives without setting SMART goals, the process will be a lot harder and longer than it needs to be. People who fail to set clear goals and plans are more likely to miss out on life changing opportunities, be disorganized, stressed, frustrated, and experience a lack of progress in both their personal and professional lives. If you are feeling stuck with where you are compared to where you hoped to be or find yourself wondering why others are crushing their goals while yours are crushing you, setting smarter goals might help you move forward.

How to Set SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym used to explain a simple and effective approach to goal setting for your personal life and professional career. For me, setting SMART goals has been the game changer that has helped me navigate life ups and downs and stay focused on achieving my long- and short-term objectives. Whether it was the dream of travelling and seeing the world, migrating to the USA, homeownership, finances, education, professional growth, overall well-being, to all the things that fit into my “big picture” for my life, setting SMART goals have been crucial.

The setting SMART goals approach advocates that you make every goal you set for yourself –specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound as described below:

  • Specific: Here the focus is to ensure that your goal is clear and practical and answers questions such as what, why, who and where. For example, saying you want to visit Europe would be a vague goal since it fails to provide clarity to those key questions. To make your travel goal to Europe more concrete, you would need to need to pinpoint the exact city or cities in Europe that you plan to visit. In my case, I planned and executed a wonderful trip to London and Paris for my 40th birthday celebrations in 2019. While I have always loved travelling and have been fascinated with travelling to Europe since my early teenager years (when I spent too much time reading romance novels), I could not visit all the places I wanted to on that trip. So, I did my research and narrowed my birthday trip to two cities (London and Paris) for 12 days.
  • Measurable: This is where you have to give careful thought and attention to assessing your progress in meeting that meaningful goal. After I decided on London and Paris, I then had to set clear deadlines for when I would book my flight, plan my accommodations and transportation for moving between the two countries (and getting around each city), develop an itinerary for activities since I was travelling by myself and set a budget for how much money I would need for the trip. As a single mom, I also had to think about childcare arrangements for my daughter during my absence as well as appropriate coverage for my work team while I was away on leave. To keep focused and track the progress I was making, I also had to pay attention to documents I needed to have when the important  activities were finalized (confirmed reservations and tickets etc.)
  • Achievable: Biting off more than you can chew is the easiest and surest way to sabotage a goal. Always be careful to consider whether your goal is realistic and achievable or if the time is right. While I wanted to see more the two cities, time and money were huge determinants of where I went and the duration of the trip. Planning to do more than those two cities could have become burdensome and easily sabotaged my ability to achieve my goal. So I planned that next time around, my goal is to take my daughter along with me and spend up to three weeks touring Italy and Spain. And again, that trip will also require SMART goal planning.
  •  Relevant: Does the goal really matter? Is your goal aligned to your plan for your life? These are questions you will need to ask yourself when setting SMART goals. If the goal is important to you, you are more likely to stick with it. I decided to go to Europe for my 40th birthday one year before the actual trip. I shared the idea with a few friends and family members and invited them to join me. As the deadline for booking flights came, the two persons who had said they would join me declined because the timing no longer worked for them. I was forced to consider if I would postpone the trip or go alone. I decided to go alone as my milestone birthday was too important to me and for me to not do it.
  • Timebound: As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Your SMART goal needs a target date. Give your goals a better chance for success by coming up with realistic timelines. I came up with the 12-day visit by looking at the places I wanted to visit in London, and the sights I wanted to see in Paris. I also had to build in travel time between the two countries and down time so that I would not feel stressed on the trip. Planning a clear itinerary helped me to relax and put things in place to make my trip enjoyable.

By using the SMART approach to setting this goal, my birthday found me waking up in Paris, spending the morning taking selfies with Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, touring The Eiffel Tower just before lunch and dining on the Seine River with a four-course meal while being serenaded by my French waiter and other passengers on the cruise. My trip was all I hoped it would be and more and I returned home safely.

Over to you, what is one goal that you have been stalling on or have abandoned? Now is the time for you to revisit that goal or think of a new one and seize the day to action it. If you can see it, you can achieve. Give the SMART goal setting approach a try and get ready to celebrate your next achievement.

Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!

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That Commitment Thing….

comit 2Making a commitment is sometimes easy, but staying committed is most times hard. This is true of most commitments, whatever their shape or form. Nonetheless, at the start of a New Year, many people declare themes, set goals and share resolutions about what they hope to achieve in the long and short-term. Unfortunately though, some people are permanent non-starters, and their plans stay in their heads, on the papers they were written on, and/or are soon forgotten. Others might actually launch their plans with much enthusiasm, but fizzle out by the end the first month. For the remaining few, it is often a struggle to stay the course, juggle competing priorities and honor their commitments.

I am no different from those persons who struggle to stay committed to my goals. I started 2014 declaring ‘Increase’, as the theme that would guide my personal and professional goals for the year. I set lofty goals and plans to publish my Blog and post weekly, gain professional certification, pursue career advancement, lose weight, and the list goes on. For a while, I made steady progress with my goals and was feeling quite accomplished, as I successfully managed to balance everything. Suddenly, distractions and curve balls popped up everywhere. My rhythm was disrupted, and I began struggling to cope with all the changes, and challenges coming my way. Inevitably, I was unable to keep up with all the things I needed to do, planned to do, wanted to do, and some things started to slide. Blogging and exercising were the first activities to go, as did my little social life, while work, interviewing and studying competed aggressively for time. Fortunately though, I weathered this rough and difficult period, achieved some important goals (professional certification, career advancement) and things have begun to settle quite nicely.

Despite  my recent successes, I’m still struggling to stay committed to  my other goals. You would probably think that, success in one area of your life would automatically motivate you to push forward with your other goals. However, this is not always the case. The truth is, the road to success can be so tiring, time-consuming, energy sapping that, after you’ve succeeded in meeting a goal all you feel is relief. Relief and a strong desire to do nothing … nothing but pause, watch mindless TV, read books with titles you can’t remember, sleep, or just lie in the dark for hours of a time as you ponder what to do next.

comitThis recent experience made me think of  other people who are struggling to stay committed to the goals they’ve set. Year after year, many people struggle in their efforts to find that new job, buy that house, save to take that vacation, start or finish that degree, lose the weight and/or overcome a physical or health challenge. To the onlooker, they might seem to be failing in their efforts, but that picture of slow/no progress does not tell the full  story. At times, these people grapple with matters of survival, risk becoming  “burnt out”, and find it difficult to stay focused. Overtime, the lack of progress in meeting their goals can result in feelings of frustration, weaken their  resolve, and ultimately lead to disinterest in continuing to pursue said goals. In turn, this can fuel feelings such as inadequacy, which  further prevent them from moving forward, or even picking up where they might have dropped off.

So from one ‘struggler’ to the next, I urge you to not give up. Keep pursuing your goals. It doesn’t matter how far behind you are, or how late in the year it is, your goals are still important. Therefore, as you tackle your own life situations, here are some helpful reminders for you:

  1. Establish your priorities: Avoid being/becoming a slave to self-ambition,and spreading yourself too thinly. When you begin to feel  overly stretched and stressed, focus on the one or two activities that are likely to produce the most meaningful impact in terms or that important goal. Anything else is untenable.
  2. Put a plan in place: While it good to dream, our plans should be realistic and practical. Do not set yourself up to fail by setting goals that aren’t S.M.A.R.T.
  3. Pause and pace yourself: Give yourself some downtime. Watch a movie, read a book, or simply  do something that relaxes you. This will help you to either keep the balance in your life, or find it.
  4. Finish at least one thing and cut yourself some slack: You should always strive to put your best foot forward in whatever you do. But, bear in mind that your best effort at a particular point might be far from perfect. In these instances, do your best, learn the lesson(s), and accept the result(s).
  5. Assess yourself and your motives: Often times, the pursuit of a goal or plan can become so intense that you begin to feel burdened  by the fear of failing, or what people might say or think. If and when this happens, pause and ask yourself Why am I doing this? Does the goal still serve me or am I serving the goal? The goal should always serve you and reflect your best interest –not anyone else’s. If it doesn’t, forget it.
  6. Have a good support system: There are times when you will need to vent your frustrations and fears as you encounter difficulties. Lean on your friends and family. They will give you the much-needed encouragement you need to keep going even when you feel you can’t.
  7. Practice some self-discipline: Nothing worth having comes easy. Just ask the successful people you know. You will have to work tirelessly to meet your goals, and  honour your commitments whatever they are.

As the wise Jamaican Proverb says, “If yuh waan good yuh nose haffi run”.

Translation:  If you want good your nose has to run.

Meaning:  In order to achieve success you  will have to make sacrifices and/or work hard.

Images Courtesy of Google.

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved

 

 

Just Do It……..Do It Now!

imagesX97HBCNRThe new year is here and January is running fast. You’ve made some New Year resolutions  which are either fading into the deeper recesses of your mind or are in full gear. Whichever the case, I’m with you for I have been there  and done that.

Writing a blog has been on my  ” To  Do List ”  since 2011 when I first came across the concept, along with developing an online portfolio, shedding 10 pounds and the list goes on.But for whatever reason, life happens, I’ve never started and none of my friends have kept me accountable though I’ve said  I would. To be fair though, they have repeatedly told me  that they are patiently waiting for my memoirs/autobiography for believe me , I like you and so many others have  STORIES  to tell.

Anyways, back to the point, I’ve finally published my blog- It’s A Learning Life -Lessons in the Journey Towards Personal & Professional Development http://itsalearninglife.wordpress.com.  And trust me, you’d never believe the amount of time and effort it took  to get started . Hats off to the  established Bloggers out there, I  now have a greater appreciation for what you do and the courage it takes to just put yourself out there.

But I’ve resolved, my blog’s debut isn’t perfect, it doesn’t have to be . In fact, the content, style and format of my blog may change and evolve as I do- and I’m ok with that. It simply reflects my first step, my best effort at this time, and my commitment to meet one of my personal and professional goals for 2014. So  if you like me  have  been putting off a goal or project for some area(s) of your life – personal, career, education, financial, health , spiritual etc., my advice to you  would be to – just  do it. Start, neither  you   nor your efforts  have to be perfect,  your focus may shift a bit, you may slip up but stay the course and do it.

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Wherever you are in your  journey, whatever the situation, the  level you’re at, go ahead  and find your list of “things to do for 2014” and start. If you don’t have one, it’s not too late  to go make one,  you’re even entitled to dream, but right after you read, comment, like and share.

What are your goals for 2014? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

TNB

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved