When I started my blog I didn’t intend to write ‘coaching posts’, although I knew the attitude I’ve learned from coaching would always colour what I wrote. However, when I’ve talked about goal achievement and avoiding the UFO pile several people have asked for more detail about how to make their goals more achievable. In one conversation Maggienesium said one of her goals she wasn’t working on felt like a ‘fuzzy beast’. I think that’s a great description of hard to achieve goals, because the more clearly we can define our goals the more easy they are to achieve. Also, the less clearly we see them the more our goals can feel like beasts.
So here goes, the post I never meant to write…
DeFuzzing the Beast
Firstly, and most importantly, goal setting starts with checking if you really want to be chasing the goal at all. So start your goal setting by asking:
- Do I really want to achieve this?
- Is there something else I’d rather accomplish?
It’s also worth asking, What are the reasons I want to achieve this? Just to make sure you don’t want to be chasing a different goal.
Once you’re sure you really want to achieve a goal, use the SMART acronym to help set it. You’ll find this all over the place, but briefly SMART stands for:
Specific – Goals should state exactly what you want to achieve. For most craft endeavours this is easy as you’re creating something. But sometimes it isn’t, for example when you’re experimenting. However, if you simply ask yourself, ‘What do I want to achieve here?’ you’re likely to find an answer.
Measurable – Measurable and specific are pretty much the same thing. The measurable just makes sure you’re really precise about what you want to achieve, so you:
- Don’t stray off and achieve something similar to what you wanted to achieve, but not what you really wanted to achieve.
- Can focus fully on what you want to achieve – this makes it easier for your brain to focus and easier to avoid procrastination.
For example, our specific may be that we want to knit a pair of mittens. Our measureable should name the pattern, the yarn we’ll be using and what size we’ll be making.
Action oriented For a goal to be achieved, it must be combined with an action plan. For example, your plan to knit your mittens might be that you will knit in your lunch hour, or in the evening, or that you will set aside three hours every week to knit.
Realistic – I’ll come to this in a moment.
- Know when you’re going to start. This is important as it stops you putting off starting if you’re feeling apprehensive, or busy with other things. However, if you are inundated, or the timing is bad, you may wish to delay the start.
- Attach timings to the actions in your action plan.
- You also need to set a target date for when are you going to achieve your goal.
Back to Realistic
Once you’ve identified exactly what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do it, when you’re going to start and when you want to finish, check you’re being realistic:
- Do you have the skills/equipment to achieve what you want to achieve?
- Is there enough detail in your action plan?
- What are you going to do if your action plan goes astray? For example, if you plan to knit every evening, but you go out every evening for a whole week, will you fit knitting in elsewhere or just not knit that week?
- Are you being realistic about how quickly you can achieve your goal?
- Do you need anyone else’s support to achieve this goal? Have you got it? If not, how are you going to get it?
Once you’ve checked your goal fits the SMART criteria, there’s a few other thing to think about…
Have a positive goal
Our subconscious sees negative statements as something negative happening to us and will work against it. In craft we’re usually aiming to create something, so we’re unlikely to have negative goals. However goals like losing bad habits are negative – here stop thinking that you’re stopping doing something and instead say you’re trying to achieve the positive(s) that losing the habit will bring you.
Accentuate the positive
- Make your journey to achieving your goal as positive as possible.
- Think about and enjoy the positives of working on your goal.
- If there are negatives about working on your goal, think about how you could reduce their impact.
If a goal is going to take a long time to achieve set shorter targets to keep yourself on track and pat yourself on the back each time you achieve one.
Keep an eye on your progress:
- If your target completion date begins to slip, consider if you need to spent more time working on your goal, learn to work more effectively, or reset your target date.
- Remain aware of how much you’re enjoying working on your goal. If you’re not enjoying it consider why that is and how to make it more enjoyable. Also consider if you need to change any other parameters around your goal. In the extreme, you may recognise you need to abandon your goal.
- Take note if you keep procrastinating over achieving your goal. Work out why and address it!
I hope this brief piece helps those of you who asked for some pointers on goal setting and hopefully helps others as well. Do ask if anything’s unclear or needs a little more expansion – what I’ve tried to do here is cover the main points of how to set achievable goals.
Identify exactly ws