Motivation is at the core of professional and personal growth. We are motivated by two things, either by the avoidance of pain or the pursuit of pleasure. To have sufficient motivation for behavior change, you must be experiencing a whole lot of pain that you’d like to avoid, OR you want something really really bad.
A lot of people get stuck somewhere in continuum of motivation, moving from pain to pleasure. People routinely get psychologically stuck and need expertise, skills and support to grow into their full potential. There are some simple things you can do to get yourself unstuck and in gear toward your goal. Once you’ve established what you want and why you want it, you’ll need a good plan to see your dream blossom. This part is critical! Some people have the courage to dream but lack the self-discipline and focus to see their dream realized. This is so sad. If the dream is your arrow, then discipline is your bow. You must have both. Discipline is not just hard work, it is smart work and it is enduring committed work.
The most powerful ways to reach your SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals, while equipping you to unlock the secrets to your own potential. And because I can’t leave a good thing alone, a added a few bonus ingredients that simply can not be left out. So we are not just going to talk about SMART goals, we are going to talk about the SMARTEST goals.
Last post, we talked about Self Esteem and how to dream big. The post before we talked about how we can get out of our own way to accomplish the things God has set before us. We are in part III of a three part series. These concepts have the power to transform your life and your relationships, bringing you into the fullness of God’s plan and purpose for your life, IF you let them. They will take time, energy, risk and investment. You are worth every ounce of sweat equity you put out there. Too many of us have sabotaged our dreams, our goals because we have not done the proper planning. Listen, when we don’t put the proper planning into a goal, we are saying to ourselves and to God, “Hey my goal is just not that important.” In essence we are saying to ourselves, “I’m not that important, and God- you’re not that important either.”
We stay stuck in the psychologically immature state of wishful thinking. We just want to wish it to happen, or to hope it will happen without putting the sweat, the time, the money and the energy to make it happen. Sometimes I see Christians give up their dreams and goals and blame it on God. When God doesn’t magically drop the thing on their door step, they use lame excuses to cover their own carelessness “Well,” they say, “I guess God just didn’t want that to happen,” or “I didn’t hear God right.” Or “it must not be the right time for me.” We tell ourselves this, when really our setbacks are a depiction of our own lack of faith.
When we sabotage our own success by lack of faith and lack of planning, we reinforce our low sense of self worth. But when you learn how you are getting in your own way, you have power to get out of your own way and to succeed. When you start collecting small successes, you grow in strength and competency, and your self esteem is improved. Sounds simple, right? It is. But it does take some time and effort. But you have what it takes, so keep going! Make no mistake, each of these Steps is going to require something from you. They are going to require small steps of faith along the way. You will be required to make guesses, estimates, hypothesis. You know what that means? The chances are you’re going to be wrong, and then you’ll have to go back to the Goal Setting Process and do it again. This is called faith. This is called growth. This is called diligence and intelligence. The only thing that will stop you from doing this required and important steps is your own fear of failure, sense of not being good enough to see it through. And that’s pish posh hog wash. So don’t listen to that. Without further ado, Here are your SMARTEST GOALS.
Specific: A general goal is nothing more than a wish. Specifically naming your goal will give you a much better chance of actualizing it. The bible says, “The desires of good people lead straight to the best, but wicked ambition ends in angry frustration.” Proverbs11:24
A general or non-specific goal like “I want to work out more” or “I want to be healthier” has little chance to actually change your behaviors. To determine your goal specifically, try answering the five W questions:
• Who is involved?
• What do I want to accomplish?
• Where will I be working on this goal?
• When will I be working on this goal? Schedule it. If goal-oriented behaviors are not scheduled, they will not happen.
• Why am I doing this? What are the benefits, rewards and purpose of me accomplishing this goal? You need to keep the “WHY” with you all the time- it is the deeply abiding motivation that gets you through the grind of work.
Measurable: Your goal needs to be measured and measurable along the way. Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress. To determine your progress ask questions like, How much? And How will I know when I get there? When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal. The running plan
Attainable: this is where I like to name my threats. What are the things that will get you off course? Here are some common ones; fear of failure, lack of financial investment, lack of time investment, lack of support, distractions, and insecurities. You may be tempted to use your time and money for others sayings instead of your goal. You may be tempted to settle for the good, instead of reaching the best. Recognize the threats that will keep you from accomplishing your goals, and plan for them. That way, when your success is threatened- and it will be- you are ready for it.
Realistic- Your goal can’t be a fantasy, it has to be realistic. In order for your goal to meet the realistic criteria, it must be something that you are both willing and able to work toward. There are some people who audition for American Idol who should keep their singing to shower performances only. They simply aren’t able to carry a tune. There are some of us will conflicting goals- for me to be the kind of mother I want to be, I just won’t be able to follow a robust speaking schedule. Reality is your friend, don’t resent it, embrace it.
Now, a goal can be both huge and realistic; you will be able to determine what reality is to you. How much time, money and energy are you able to pour into this goal and stay keeping with your values. Remember your values and priorities- which priorities can you re-arrange or set aside for a season.
A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.
Time-bound A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a time-frame, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
Express Express your goal to others. Tell other people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When you tell other people your dream, your desire and your why, you have the opportunity to inspire them to join you. When you see their interest, you become more and more motivated. When I tell people what I do, I always try to mention the why. It keeps me centered and focused. I know what you’re thinking, “What if I don’t follow through, and I’ve told all these people about my goal?” We could What-If ourselves to death. The truth is, that when you give your dreams a voice, they are much more likely to take root. Just like God in the beginning of time, you have the power to speak them into existence.
Support: You are going to need support to reach your goals. God has not designed you to be able to accomplish your goals on your own. He has designed you to be interdependent with other people. When my book was a dream in my head and thousands of words in my computer, I joined a writers group. I went to three different writers conferences in three different states. I went to monthly meetings in my Christian writers association. I worked closely with an editor for advice. All these people and relationships and learning experiences worked together until I had a finished product. I couldn’t have done it had I not heard other people tell me their stories, other people encourage me to keep going. The bible says, “Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.” Philipians 3:17 Limit your time with the people who scoff at your progress or who cannot share in your dream.
Take Time to Celebrate: When you arrive at a finished goal, make sure you memorialize it. Take time along the way to celebrate the small and the big successes. Give thanks for what God has done. After the Isrealites were lead to the promised land, God reminded them to take the time to celebrate. The bible says, “So, summing up: On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have brought your crops in from your fields, celebrate the Feast of God for seven days. The first day is a complete rest and the eighth day is a complete rest. On the first day, pick the best fruit from the best trees; take fronds of palm trees and branches of leafy trees and from willows by the brook and celebrate in the presence of your God for seven days—yes, for seven full days celebrate it as a festival to God.” God is serious about taking the time to recognize the miracles that have taken place to bring you where you are.
Beware of the Double barreled sling shot- this is the weapon that the enemy loves to use the most in devouring Christian motivation, especially when we are reaching for godly goals.
1st Peter 5:8-11 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings – but after you have suffered a little while, God will restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
Overwhelmed by the amount of work it will take : Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler,8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. Pr 6:6-8
Goals are an important part to building your self esteem. Look back and see what you’ve accomplished so far. Memorialize the miracles and blessings God has allowed you to be apart of.