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Archive for April, 2008

Thinking S.M.A.R.T., attainably

Posted by telos on April 28, 2008


Taking steps to attainable  NOTE: The SMART series of posts is best read from the first post. Start with and read from there.


This seems like the most obvious of the S.M.A.R.T.s so far – you mean that if I set a goal it has to be one that I can actually do? – DUH!

On second thinking however this is a factor that deserves closer attention since very often, like beauty, attainment is in the eye (and more importantly the “i”, see below) of the beholder – reminding me of what Henry Ford once famously said

“Whether you think you can or you can’t – you’re right”

Research, and (eventually for some people) experience tells us that the ‘best’ kind of goals are those that are “challenging but achievable” – what industry and the corporate world describe as “stretch” goals, and pop psychologists or self help gurus often describe using motivational rhyming phrases

 “If you can believe it, you can achieve it” … “if you can sustain it, you can attain it” … “if you can see it, you can be it” … “if the glove don’t fit you must acquit” – well ok maybe not the last one – but you get what I mean, right?

These phrases and others like them support the idea of something very simplistic like “you can achieve anything you set your mind to” – another popular declaration much loved by parents and anyone that wants to be President of the United States. When hearing this statement, even the most positive asset-based person (like me!) is likely to reply …. Anything????” You can achieve anything your set your mind to?” That can’t be right surely?

 As I think about Attainment and these kind of phrases, what comes up for me very powerfully is  the importance of the ‘i’ part of SMART – something I wrote about in the very first post of this series. Seeing things in your mind’s “i” brings up 2 essential, but often underestimated ways of thinking about goal setting and goal attainment

 Clarity – What does this goal look like to you?

Importance –  What is important to you about this goal?

 So for example

You want to lose weight? Ok, what does losing weight look like to you? What is important to you about losing weight?

You want to be more active? What does being more active look like to you? What is important to you about being more active?

You want to reduce the stress in your life? What does a stress-free life look like to you? What is important to you about being stress-free?

You want to  …. etc etc

 “Any goal you set your mind to”, now becomes “any goal you set with these two in mind” (i.e. in your mind’s ‘i’). This “new thinking” brings up a whole new world of attainment possibilities – with an important qualifier – which turns out to be the next acronymic letter!

 So as you think about what you want to attain – what does this goal look like to you? What is important to you about this goal?


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Thinking S.M.A.R.T., measurably

Posted by telos on April 4, 2008

As a Rule Goal should be Measurable NOTE: The SMART series of posts is best read from the first post. Start with and read from there.


The second acronymic letter after the “i”, research tells us that a “Measurable” goal is a “makeable” goal. I’m paraphrasing here of course because it is highly unlikely that researchers would be this simplistic. In research terms you would be more likely to read that setting measurable goals allows you to “Establish concrete criteria for accurately determining progress toward the attainment of each set goal considered to be appropriate for the individual in question”.

But hopefully “makeable” does it for you

My point here is that if you can measure the goal you can make the goal. Of course “Makeable” is no guarantee you are going to “make it” – just that you are far more likely to do so if you are able to measure what you want to “make”.

Measurement provides meaning to your goal and puts your achievement into perspective (Did I make it or not? – Was I successful or not?). Only by measuring (and being able to measure) will you discover the answers to these indispensable goal-oriented questions. What is your start point? – What is your endpoint? How will you know where you end up if you don’t know where you started?

I made the point in my last post that being Specific in your goal setting was important. Being Measurable is all of a part with this because the more specific your goal is – the easier it is to measure. For example “I’m going to get more active this year” is not specific and not really measurable – how do you know when you have “got” more active? In contrast, “I’m going to walk briskly around the neighborhood for 15 minutes every day” is not only Specific but also Measurable (Did I walk every day around the neighborhood? Answer = Yes/No. Did I walk briskly? Answer = Yes/No)

You see how all these things are coming together?

So ask yourself … What will tell me I have achieved my goal?

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