How do you feel about goal setting? Let’s escape from the ‘goal setting box’ and make it work in your favour.

I believe the answer to this question is yes and no. I guess that’s not that helpful, but bare with me, I will explain and you can draw your own conclusions.

For some, goals are particularly helpful, for others they are like scratching your fingernails down a blackboard. What I have found is that it depends on the individual and it also depends on the goal setting process. The process needs to fit the individual. No matter what we are trying to achieve, as soon as we start trying to squeeze people into boxes, we are limiting their potential. So…. What do I mean?

There are various ways to get to where we want to be. Goal setting is one of them. It can be helpful to set goals and consequently applying various actions in order to achieve those goals. For those who cringe at the idea of ‘goal setting’, this may not be the way for you. You might want to skip ahead, to where you see some larger font, to get your attention. Or you may be curious and keep reading. Who knows, perhaps goal setting might have a small place in your life after all. Regardless, the choice is always yours.

For those of you who are comfortable, thrive or are simply curious about goals and goal setting, these next few paragraphs are for you.

There are a variety of strategies people use for goal setting. A common one is S.M.A.R.T goals. Have you heard of these? Ever given them a try? They are fairly well known, so I’m going to guess that most of you have heard of them, but have you heard of D.U.M.B goals? Curious? Hold that thought…… We’ll have a bit of a look at S.M.A.R.T goals first.

S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic (or relevant) and Timely goals. The idea is that in order to make your goals more achievable, to keep you on track and have a benchmark to demonstrate that you’ve succeeded, they need to be:

Specific, to allow for you to have focus and direction, know exactly where you’re heading.

Measurable, so you know when you’ve achieved it and to make you a little more accountable.

Achievable and Realistic, to set yourself up for ‘success’. It is believed that if the goal is achievable and realistic you are more likely to succeed and therefore it will be more sustainable.

Last but not least, if your goal is ‘Timely’, meaning that you have clear, detailed time lines that are within reach, you are more likely to stick with it and you will be more accountable.

This type of goal setting has provided success for people of all walks of life in many different scenarios, whether they be personal, professional, physical, intellectual, big or small, they definitely work for some people.

Goal setting not for you?

However, if goal setting is not your thing, then perhaps they wouldn’t work for you. Does the word ‘goal’ make you cringe? Perhaps a better way for you would be to explore your vision for yourself. Where you aim to be in the future. What you would like to experience or achieve. What will ensure you feel like you are living a fulfilled life? Perhaps the next step would be to explore the pathway to that vision. What are the best, most approachable and accessible steps you can take to get there? You can map out those steps in all sorts of creative ways. I’m picturing a large sheet of paper, colored pencils, textas and pastels (colored crayons and markers, if you’re not in Australia).

Begin by drawing a pathway or road, it can be as curvy or straight as you imagine that journey. Manifest into what is ideal for you. Is straight and direct what works best for you, or would you be bored with that? Would you prefer a few curves and twists? Now, set the scene…….. What is on your path? What are the things you know for sure will be there? What are you certain you want to be there? Is there anything you absolutely don’t want to face on that path? Don’t include it. It’s your path. Are you starting to get the picture?

As a coach I can walk either of these journeys with you, supporting and guiding you along the way. Coaches can be a sounding board, a mirror, or a beacon of light on those tough days, encouraging you and providing that ‘accountability’ aspect.

Back to the goals

We’re not finished with goals yet. Like everything, it is not black and white. There is always an alternative. Let’s explore what Brendan Burchard had to say. I was certainly a captured audience in Brendan’s video on goals. He introduced a new concept, D.U.M.B goals.

D.U.M.B goals, in the words of Brendan Burchard (well, not his exact words, but as close as my memory could get me) represent the following:

Dreams – follow your dreams. Dream big, keeping goals at a ‘realistic’ status limits us

Uplifting – set goals that are uplifting. Be mindful of your language. Does it uplift you?

Method – A method or a plan. Steps, on how to get there and practice them.

Behaviour triggers – set up behaviour driven triggers. These can be things such as alarms or reminders in your phone, notes on your mirror or an action like walking through a particular door. When you’re exposed to that trigger, you kick start the action you have assigned to the trigger. Eg alarm to move your body, take 5 breaths, prepare a nutritious snack. It takes a little dedication and #motivation at the start, however the idea is that you create a situation where you are triggered to remember your action.

He spoke about why S.M.A.R.T goals are not good for us, instead he encourages us to go for D.U.M.B goals. I was intrigued and #inspired by this concept, though I do believe there is a place for all of the above. I’m not an ‘either/or’ kind of person. I like to explore all options and take the parts that work best for me. I believe that the S.M.A.R.T goals have potential to be limiting for many people, however I also believe that D.U.M.B goals could be overwhelming for others, particularly if the goal is too big and doesn’t feel possible. And, I believe that goal setting is not for everyone.

No I’m not sitting on the fence. I’m keeping an #openmind and ensuring that my approach is accessible to a variety of people. There are many elements that need to be taken into consideration, such as personality types, behaviour types (keep your eye out for my blog that expands on this), learning styles, past experiences of goal setting and what an individual is wanting to achieve. Let’s not lock ourselves in a #goalsetting box. I’m sure that is the key to success, right there – no locked boxes……