REAL Goals: A new way of goal setting
Alright folks, I am back from my blog hiatus! I needed to take all my brain power and invest it into getting my upcoming book, Bossing Up, over the finish line. Thank you for your patience and for coming back to get the scoop. Writing a book has been a long-time goal of mine and I was determined to get it done by the time I turned 30. With only days to spare before my thirtieth birthday, my final manuscript was submitted and it’s coming out this month!
What an incredible feeling it is to accomplish your goals, right? There’s a special sense of pride and an incomparable high that comes with achieving something you set out to do. But despite how good success feels, when the high wears off, it can be difficult to put your thoughts back into action. How many times have you told yourself “I’m going to start going to the gym”, or “I’m going to start saving more”, or “I’m going to aim for that promotion”? And how many times have you let your gym shoes collect dust, spent needlessly on things that had no real value, or let a comment that a friend or colleague said get to your head? Probably a couple.
You had all the right intentions, you were super motivated and you really believed that this time would be different. Yet, you’re still in square one. What’s the deal? The reality is, your goals can’t start and end with a declaration; they require action, and consequently, an action plan. And in order for your plan to work, it needs to be one you want to follow.
Are you familiar with the SMART goal method? It encourages you to break your goal into 5 parts; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. When I graduated college, I thought SMART goals were the greatest thing since sliced bread. My goals took the shape of a checklist; they were easy to do and easy to follow. But the more I did them, the more they tasted like burnt toast. I’d map out my goals and put a great deal of thought into how I was going to achieve them, but they fell short on emotion. They were overdone yet still lacked something that prevented me from getting excited and going all-in... they were missing the why. I came to realise that if I was not emotionally invested in my goals, I did not and would not succeed.
When you know why your goal matters, you’re much more likely to stay accountable. And when you work towards your “why”, you’re much more likely to achieve success. Goals that are extrinsic in nature don’t often drive behaviour, and if they do, it’s only for so long. When you hone in on your why, and find your intrinsic motivators, you tap into the part of the brain that fuels you to take action. When you’re working towards something that has a direct impact on your happiness, health, or future, it’s has so much more power than a checklist.
With SMART goals not meeting my needs, and no other action plan that vibed with me, I set out to uncover what was at the root of my past successes and how I could replicate it. I analysed when I performed at my best, when I remained accountable to my goals, and when I felt the most fulfilled, and I recognised a pattern. With those learnings, I developed an alternative goal setting methodology, which I’ve been using as my go-to action plan for years now. I’ve coined it: REAL goals.
This approach has earned me 5 promotions in 5 years, doubled my salary in that time, equipped me to start my own business and publish a book.
*Drops the mic*
Real talk... it isn't a matter of luck, nor is it rocket science. It's a matter of knowing myself, what I want, what makes me happy, and making the moves I need to make to get me from where I am to where I want to be. My clients have also seen tremendous success by setting REAL goals of their own, and you can too.
The acronym represents the emotionally-stimulating criteria that guide you to develop objectives that matter. Given that your goals and emotions change according to their context, this approach focuses more on accountability rather than trackability and supports more active engagement with your goals than simply measuring them would allow. A REAL goal is one that is:
Here’s how it works:
Setting goals is easy, sticking to them is harder. Develop goals that resonate with your core and vibe with your values. Tying your goals to your values serves as a constant reminder of why you’re pursuing them. If you’re struggling to connect your goals to your values, reconsider the impact that goal has on achieving your version of success. Sometimes we convince ourselves we need to take certain steps in order to move forward, but there is no one road to success. Allow yourself to let go of a certain path if it is doesn't feel right.
Checklists won’t motivate you to the top, but you know what will? Goals that empower you every time you think of them. Develop goals that embody your strengths, that get the blood pumping through your veins, and make you want to jump out of bed and into action. When you feel in control of your own journey, there is no obstacle too big to overcome. Constantly reinvest your energy into your goals so you can continue to learn more, achieve more, and be more.
Many people quit before they begin to see progress because they’re intimidated by the Herculean task they envision. It is important to remember that every single step counts and progress comes in many shapes and sizes. Breaking down your goals into actionable steps ensures that you will remain challenged enough to keep interest, without setting yourself up to fail. Having identified your strengths, start with steps you know you’ll do well. Accomplishing those steps early on triggers positive behavioural momentum, and builds your confidence as the steps become more challenging.
Last but certainly not least, your goals need to be lucrative; you must stand to gain something from achieving them. Be selfish, acknowledge what’s in it for you. Not your parent, partner or child--you. This does not mean that they cannot benefit from it, but identify how it contributes to your purpose. Whether you learn something new, let go of old behaviours, or turn a profit on your idea, knowing what you’ll gain makes it easier to work toward them.
When you set a goal that reflects your mission, that embodies your best traits, that is doable and offers value--that’s not a “set and forget” goal. You can’t put something like that aside.
Give yourself a real shot at achieving something important to you (see what I did there?). For those of who are up for the challenge, set a REAL goal and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need any help or have any questions, I’m here to guide you.
To learn more about setting goals you’ll actually commit to, get your copy of Bossing Up!