You know the ones I mean.
You've heard of SMART(ER) goal setting, right? It's an acronym for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound, (Evaluate, Readjust) and has been used for the last thirty years, predominantly in business, but also by us, you and me, in day to day life. This is a really helpful scaffold on which to build goals, that has been proven to work. If you want to specifically use this goal-setting method, check out my SMART goal blog post here.
Today, however, I want to use START goals. Same same, but different.
The first step, work out what your top three priorities are now. They could be anything from spending more time with your kids / partner, having more time alone (I know this is a big one for parents, especially), getting to the gym regularly, or establishing a regular exercise regime.
List them. List them all. Doesn't matter how many there are. Get them out of your head.
Once you've done that, narrow the list down to your top three. Follow your intuition, it'll be screaming what you need, in whatever way it does that for you.
Learn to speak and understand Spanish
Go to the gym regularly
Find a life coach
Now that you've honed in on the top priorities you need to do some inner work.
Break down your conflicting beliefs.
Yes, those ones. The ones that result in you self-sabotaging. Procrastinating. Ummming and Ahhhing.
Now, write your first priority (or goal) and follow it with, but, and write the conflicting belief attached to it,
For example; I want to start learning Spanish, but I am really self-conscious when I speak. But, don't want to make mistakes and feel stupid in front of other people. I really hate not being perfect in everything I do. But, I
will also be really frustrated when I take my dream trip to Mexico and I can't communicate with people. I'll feel really angry with myself for not taking the opportunity to try my best and not worry about making mistakes. I don't want fear to be the driver in my life.
Keep writing, write out all of your excuses, reasons why not, the buts, the what-ifs. All of them. Until you can't find any more conflicting beliefs. Empty them out onto the page.
Once you've done that, write out all the positive results of what you will gain if you do achieve your goal.
For example; If I spoke and understood Spanish, I would make so many new friends when I go on my dream trip to Mexico in the summer, I would be able to communicate with people at markets and be able to immerse myself more into the culture, and not just be another tourist. I could also add this skill to my CV and LinkedIn profile, and use it at work, or look for work that would allow me to use it. There is a Spanish speaking flamenco group that dances on Friday nights and I would be able to go there and continue to practice my Spanish and get to know Spaniards, Mexicans and other Spanish speakers in my town. It would also mean that I could easily visit all the Spanish speaking countries around the world, of which there are many. I'd also feel very proud of myself for achieving this skill and pushing myself beyond my comfort zone, I'll get recognition from my friends and colleagues at work, and be able to watch foreign films without subtitles which will be a lot less distracting. I'll be bi-lingual. As I am a teacher, I might be able to earn some money teaching English to Spanish speakers, and when I'm good enough, teach Spanish to English speakers, I could make money from my skill!
See the difference? The positives far outweigh the negatives. Think of all the ways in which this new goal will help you.
Now that you've written your limiting belief out of your system you need to go back to the START goal framework to structure your priorities into goals.
SPECIFICITY: Your goal needs to be action-oriented with numbers, as brains can process actions better than anything else.
TIMING: Set the time frame in which you are going to achieve your goal. Remember to use the time that works best for you - cyclical or linear.
ACHIEVABILITY: Can a human achieve it? Yes, then go for it.
REASON: Why oh why are you wanting to achieve this goal? Is it for you, or is it for your mother?
THREE ACTIONS: The key to your first steps is they need to be small enough to get you started right away. And, not alarm your hindbrain into creating reasons not to get started. Which will start the downward spiral to not achieving your goal.
Framing your START goal
Write your goal as though you have already achieved it, go back to the feelings and images you had when you did your visualisation in step 2. Listen to your intuition when writing your goals, your intuition will guide you.
The template: (you can download your own template below)
It is now... (state the time / date you wish to the outcome to occur)
I am / I have... (state your goal or intention using a brief description that contains the single event that you know for certain you have achieved this goal)
The reason this goal was really important is because... (Be really explicit about why this goal is really important to you)
The first three actions I took towards successfully achieving this goal were... (state the three steps that helped create the snowball effect of actions you took to achieve this goal. Start with three small steps)
A START goal example, using the template. Keep your vision simple.
It is now…the end of May / it's Autumn / it's Spring (cyclical time), the 31st of May 2021 (linear time)
I am / I have... just finished my third workout for the week. I have been going to the gym three times a week for the past year. I have progressively gotten stronger and fitter, I feel good in my skin and I smile all the time because I really have good fun.
The reason this goal was really important is because…I need to set an example for my children about what a healthy balanced lifestyle looks like. I also look after my health, I have had a few health scares over the last 2 years.
The first three actions I took towards successfully achieving this goal were: 1. Bought myself some new gym clothes and shoes. 2. Checked out the gyms near where I work and live. I spoke with the trainers and took a tour of the facilities. 3. Signed up to a fitness challenge at the gym I chose. And, asked them to make me accountable for 3 sessions a week. Asked my best friend to do it with me.
I've got my goals, what should I do next?
Flip your thinking
This means you need to change the way in which you think about the actions involved in achieving and continuing to work towards your goal. We need to start thinking as though we are already the person we wish to become. For example, it's cold, rainy and going to the gym is really not a pleasant thought, and we want to instead sit on the couch, with a block of chocolate and Netflix binge.
Instead of choosing the couch and chocolate, we flip the thoughts to the person we wish to become, the person that goes to the gym rain, hail and shine.
This time we ask ourselves - what would a person who is strong, toned and confident in their skin do right now? They'd go to the gym. Thus, if this is a goal you really want, you'd get those sneakers on and hop to it!
A lot of our thinking is often based on feast or famine. If we have achieved it we feast, and if we don't we move into a space of famine, and that often involves starving ourselves of positive feedback and recognition of the progress we have made so far and feeding on shame and guilt. Two emotions that definitely do not nourish us.
- Measure every step of progress you make, whether it's one extra push-up or an extra word in Spanish.
- Acknowledge every win you make, no matter how small, but, celebrate with something other than food and alcohol.
- Flip your thinking to being the person you want to become
- And, finally, pat yourself on the back for even showing up in the arena and putting some skin in the game.
Would you like to read more about goal setting or getting closer to the vision of your ideal life?
I have some other blog posts that might be of interest to you;
SMART Goal Setting