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Is that a goal? Really?

Is it a goal or an intention? What’s the difference?

I woke up this morning with a huge “ah ha!” I’ve just got to share with you.  I’ve been kicking myself for weeks now, (well, ok, maybe I’m exaggerating, we’re only six weeks into the new year, and I know I was excited about my 2014 goals for the first couple of weeks at least!) for not making greater progress on my goals, or feeling successful about my plans for the year.

Maybe I’m the only one who’s done this, but in case I’m not, let me share with you the piece that’s been missing for me.  Up until now, I’ve always looked at the goal setting exercise through logical interpretation of SMART goals.  SMART is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.  Using SMART, I’ve set my goals with logic, intellect, and a general plan, in fact, with everything I’ve always heard is important, but without true intent. What is intent?

Intent: adjective

1. Firmly or steadfastly fixed or directed, as the eyes or mind

2. Having the attention sharply focused or fixed on something

3. Determined or resolved; having the mind or will fixed on some goal

4. Earnest; intense

Humans are feeling creatures. Logic is a great thing, we like it, by definition it makes sense to us, and SMART goals are logical.  But what does it feel like? When I am inspired, I’m energetic, enthusiastic, connected with my personal vision in practical action, not just going through the motions.  Don’t get me wrong, going through the motions can be important, and on the days when I can’t connect to my inspiration and true intention taking the next logical step as indicated by my logical plan can and will keep me moving forward toward my goal, but the ability to sustain my determination is limited if I am only working with SMART goals.  For me, I have to feel it.

Here’s what successful goal setting looks like for me:

Specific – I can taste it, the goal is so important to me that it’s the last thing I think about at night and the first thing I think about in the morning.  I can describe what it looks like when the goal is met, what it will feel like when success is reached, down to the tiniest detail I know what I am after!

Measurable – Not only is the result measurable, but the progress toward the result is being measured.  Regular systems are in place to track progress toward the goal and be realistic in real time about how well strategies are working.

Achievable – I tend to be very confident in my ideas of what I can accomplish.  Achievable is uncertain in the absence of a clear plan of action that is being regularly measured.  Not only am I confident I can get there, I have invested in a clear road map for the entire journey from beginning to end.

Realistic – Back to the plan, do I have information or experience to support each step of the plan, or do I have access to the expert experience of others who will show me the way?  Do I have the resources to implement my plan? It’s a common trap to have a plan that is reliant on resources that are not yet in hand.  Do I have at least one alternate strategy to achieve the goal if a critical step in my plan falls through?

Timed – There MUST be a deadline, that is specific, measurable, achievable, and realistic.  Time is the one hard factor that cannot be negotiated or manipulated, only allocated and respected.  Am I being realistic about the amount of time it will take to achieve my goal, and disciplined about prioritizing my time to achieve my goal?

Yes, I want to set SMART goals to be successful, and to be able to follow through they need to be PERSONAL as well.  When I’m only connecting logically, I’ll lose interest and fall down on follow through. When I’m feeling it, breathing it, looking at it, and owning it, I get to experience the success of all of my dreams, and you can too!