Since I started my journey in personal development, I set goalS every year. I spelled goalS with the capital ‘S’ because I would usually set MANY goals.
I wanted to become a millionaire. I wanted to live in my dream home. I wanted to make a 6 figure income. I wanted this and I wanted that. Out of the 20 some odd goals each year, I would achieve about 2 – 3 goals. By the end of each year, I would look at my goal list and said to myself: ‘Oh well… At least I have thought about it… unlike some other people.’ What I realized was that I was completely missing the point of goal setting. Who cares about what is going on with other people? The point is I only achieved 10% of my goals (2 out of 20). What exactly happened to those 2 goals that made it? What exactly happened to the rest of my goals? Are those 2 goals just simply better than the other ones? Is there such thing as a ‘better’ goal?
In my corporate days, I often helped my companies, projects and teams to set goals. Corporations are obsessed with buzzwords such as drivers, objectives, key performance indicators (KPI), pain points, key success indicators (KSI), SMART, critical success factors, strategic planning, scorecard, dashboard, benchmarking, etc. Sometimes people got so confused that these excellent terms slowly lost their meanings. Among all these buzzwords, the most popular one in terms of goal setting is ‘SMART’ which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. I used to follow all the SMART guidelines when I set corporate goals… it is amazing to me now looking from the non-corporate point of view, how unsettling certain rules are to me.
· Specific. I absolutely agree with this one. Instead of saying I want to become a millionaire, it would be more specific if I say ‘I make a million dollar per year which means $90K per month from EdithYeung.com and different speaking engagements.’
· Measurable. I like this one too. Instead of saying I want to make a lot of money, what I really should say is I will make one million dollar per year which means $90K per month which also means about $22.5K per week and $3215 per day.
· Achievable. This is the one that is unsettling for me. If you call up your best friend now and ask her: “Do you think it is achievable to make $3215 per day” she would probably think you are insane and say: “Uh… I don’t think so.” Your friend is not trying to discourage you but instead she is speaking from her frame of mind at that moment of time. She probably has no experience in making $3215 a day nor does she know anyone who has done it before. Based on what she knows at the time, there is no way. This rule of “Achievable” is assuming you will not change. This rule is really bizarre to me because the whole point of setting goals is to go somewhere you have never been before. If you define a goal that is achievable purely based on your current state of mind, you will never be able to achieve it. Never! Why would John F Kennedy set a goal to put someone on the moon? Did he really know how to do it? No. Has man ever done it before? No. Was it “Achievable”? He absolutely believed so, but not based on his current state of mind at the time. It was based on his future state of mind. It was not achievable when he announced it in 1961, but it is absolutely achievable now. If we set goals based on achievability like most corporations do, the US would never put anyone on the moon.
· Realistic. This is a non-supportive rule in goal setting. The whole point of goal setting is to set a goal that is unrealistic now so it can become realistic in the future. When Dr. Martin Luther King said: “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” When Dr. King made his speech in 1963 his dream was not realistic according to the standard of his time. People were not being treated equally in the U.S. His goal was to make his dream come true. It was not realistic to many people but he could imagine that happening some day and it was realistic in the future.
· Timely. I actually like this one because instead of saying by the end of this year, I would say by Dec 31st 2007. The minute you set a date for your goal, your brain will start the invisible timer. The clock will start ticking. The brain will know and automatically start to breakdown your goal for you into smaller chucks that need to be done by a certain time. This is absolutely a must do. Set a date.
Since achievable and realistic goal setting doesn’t really make sense to me, I am introducing two important new rules that are Imaginable & Harmonious. Instead of ‘SMART’, I am proposing a new goal setting rule ‘SMITH’:
· Imaginable – Set a goal that you can imagine and visualize in your mind. Imagine how you would behave when you achieve your goal. Imagine your feelings, your thoughts, and your actions. I have been doing this powerful 5 minute mental rehearsal every day (recommendation from Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen in Chicken Soup of the Soul – Living your dreams).
STEP 1 – Imagine you are in a movie theater watching yourself in a movie. In this movie, you have already achieved your goal and you were simply playing your part. Imagine as much detail as possible, including your clothes, expression, environment, music, actions, feelings and any other people that should be around. You would simply enjoy the show in your head.
STEP 2 – Get out of your chair and walk up towards the movie screen. Open the door and enter into the movie. Now imagine the whole movie again, but this time you are actually playing the part. You are acting it out in detail including your clothes, expression, environment, music, actions, feelings and any other people that should be around. Now you are performing.
STEP 3 – Walk back out of the screen then towards to your seat in the theatre. Reach out and grab the screen and shrink it down to the size of a truffle (I changed this from cracker to truffle because it is tastier). Move this truffle into your mouth, chew it and swallow it. Now your movie is in your stomach through your bloodstream into every cell of your body.
I practice this exercise every day. It doesn’t take you that long and it is absolutely fun and makes you really think.
· Harmonious – You can’t be working hard towards something you dislike. Your goal has to be harmonious for you. If I hate hiking, but my goal is to climb Mt. Everest, I would probably never achieve this goal especially because I don’t enjoy the process. Instead, set a goal that aligns well with who you really are. You will still have to work hard, but you have great joy doing it. EdithYeung.com is an excellent example. Not only this is a goal that is specific, measurable, imaginable and timely, but most important of all, it is harmonious with who I am. I want to add value to other peoples’ lives and to be a service to others as much as I can. The information on EdithYeung.com will be available to everyone in the world (who has internet access) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, adding value even when I am sleeping. This is a goal that aligns with my core. Steve Pavlina once said: When your identity is out of sync with your goal, action is very difficult — it is doing. When you identity comes into sync with your goal, action is inspired and effortless — it is being.
To recap, you should practice goal setting based on the new ‘Smith’ rule today. ‘Smith’ stands for:
Have fun and I know you can ‘Smith’ your goal too. Share your goal with EdithYeung.com. I would love to know about your ‘Smith’ goal.
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