teleos – arriving at a goal or an inescapable conclusion

Archive for February, 2008

Get S.M.A.R.T.! (Look yourself in the i)

Posted by telos on February 26, 2008

Don Adams - agent Maxwell Smart  I don’t know how many of you remember the TV series of the late ’60’s – but this post has nothing at all to do with that show – or the secret agent of the same name (who always seemed to be looking for a secret formula stolen by KAOS). Instead this is about a secret modification to another and similarly named formula for setting goals (Formula S.M.A.R.T.). I am now about to reveal this modification to you  …. stand by while I call in to CONTROL on my shoe phone, untwirl the combination of this safe and de-activate the alarms.

Seriously though …. there really is an acronym S.M.A.R.T. for goal setting and though it is fairly well known in business, academic and scientific fields (Google-ing ‘SMART Goals’ gets you more than 400,000 hits), I have not seen it often used by ‘regular people’  (e.g. for those annually ubiquitous “Resolutions”). 

So what are SMART goals? The whole smart thing came out of an extensive body of research on goal setting which suggested that a goal (any goal) is more likely to be achieved if you think about it and plan for it in a particular and methodical way. The results of this research was boiled down to the finding  that a goal is more likely to be achieved if it is ‘SPECIFIC’, ‘MEASURABLE’, ‘ACHIEVABLE’, ‘REALISTIC’, and ‘TIMELY’. If you take the first letter of each of these words it spells SMART – pretty smart eh? I wonder how long it took them to come up with that?

I have taught and applied this process many times, with some success, during my tenure as a university professor. What I have also discovered and learned as an intrinsic coach is that a small modification to this acronym, when acted upon, can make it far more meaningful to the person doing the goal setting. I call this modification iS.M.A.R.T.

The “i” can stand for intrinsic (my favorite), or important (my favorite) or inside (my favorite), or increasingly (my favorite), or even i‘m (my favorite). The point is that (apart from the fact that I have a lot of favorites), meaningful goal setting comes from that ‘i‘ and is all about what is important to you and only you.

Before you embark on the S.M.A.R.T. process of setting the goal therefore, it will be essential to first clarify what is important to you (and only to you) about that goal. Ask yourself the two ‘Whats’

What is my goal? What is important to me about this goal?

By the way these ‘whats” are asking entirely different questions, though often they will be thought of as asking the same thing. Here’s a common example

What is my goal? Answer: I want to lose weight

What is important to me about this goal? Answer: I want to lose weight

The second of these questions (What is important to me …?) is the defining issue here, and, I believe, is the key to all meaningful goal setting and goal achieving. If you can ask and answer this question honestly, (e.g. “What is important to me about losing weight?”) you sort of allow your basic values, what you really want, to be clarified and come to the surface. When you elicit this kind of clarity you will be surprised at what was there all the time, just waiting to be discovered!

clarity is in the i of the beholder

Whatever comes up for you it will be more meaningful to you (and only you) in your very own, singular, one of a kind, unique life. Thinking SMART is thinking i

So, as you clarify your goal, look yourself in the i – what are you seeing there?


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Posted by telos on February 2, 2008

It’s a gooaaalll!!! Achieving a wellness goal can often be as exciting as scoring a soccer goal – maybe not quite as vocal as that famous Spanish Soccer commentator’s signature screeeeeeeeeeem of joy – but still something that feels pretty good!

And here’s the thing – even if you don’t achieve the goal you have set for yourself (NOOOOOOO!!!!!!) your “failure” can still be viewed as something positive (YEEEEEEESSSSSS!). It all depends on how you choose to think about it. William James, a 19th Century philosopher who also wrote influential books on the then young science of psychology, wrote

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

This thinking can also apply to the stress we feel when “failing” to make our goal.  What I have learned during my 35 years in the field of wellness, and perhaps more particularly as an Intrinsic Coach® is that while there is a very effective formula that everyone can use for the process of setting your goal (more later), what is important to you, and unique to you, is how you choose to react to either achieving or not achieving your goal. It is this more than anything that will determine how you continue, or whether you continue to progress toward current and future goals. The “thought choice” here is between “Failure” or “Learning”. Choosing “Learning” (I didn’t make my goal – What did I learn from this?), is likely to be far more productive than choosing “Failure” (I didn’t make my goal – Why the #$%#@ did I screw up?). The really cool thing about this ‘new thinking’ is that it is equally powerful whatever happens with your goal.

You did it? What did you learn? What’s next?

You didn’t do it? What did you learn? What’s next?

So as you think about goals you have set – maybe even that ever more distant New Year’s Resolution – what’s coming up for you?

It’s your choice.

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