In my last blog titled, “Part 1 – Creating a Road Map to Your Goals“. I put you to work reviewing the last couple of years' goals. I challenged you to figure out which are still relevant.
If you didn’t complete that assignment, get a pen and a piece of paper and go back to that blog. As I stated in that blog, from this point forward, it will be less reading what I say and more of you putting pen to paper to get things done. You are about to start moving up!
For the rest of you who completed the assignment, let’s get back to work. In this blog, the 2nd in my 3-part series on execution, we will work through the SMART goal system. We will go through the acronym — one letter at a time — to get you closer to where you want to be.
There are two approaches to goal setting:
- The shotgun approach where you aim at everything in hopes of hitting something. It’s broad and unproductive.
- The rifle approach where you’re focused on a specific target.
The same goes for SMART goals. This acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Based) is the rifle approach to goal setting and will increase your chances of hitting your goal(s).
When I started my first company, Big Sky Enterprises, I wanted to take on the world and do everything. My experience was in commercial construction, but I wanted to crush residential. That was the shotgun mentality I had at the time: do everything. Six months after starting Big Sky, I dropped doing any residential work and focused on what delivered the highest ROI: commercial construction.
I quickly was out of gas because I could only do so much.
What helped me the best is working through goals from the SMART perspective. #LetsGo!
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time Based)
Specificity is critical to me because I’m a fan of the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple Stupid.
Specific is the first letter in the acronym, so it obviously has importance. As I shared above, you’re going to tend to run in circles and burnout without being specific. Being specific is going to be necessary for short-term goals. Also, being specific will be crucial to focus on longer-term goals as it’s the theme of a movie, not a scene.
Your Assignment: In the last blog, you prioritized your list of relevant goals. Now, one by one, go through them.
- How specific or broad are each of them? Make an S or a B next to each.
- Look at the language you used — are the words concrete or abstract? If the latter, rewrite using a more specific language.
- Rewrite each goal a couple of times if needed to pinpoint your intent, and make sure you have the correct, precise language stating your needs.
- Take out all descriptive adjectives and any passive verbs. Erase “could” and “should” and replace with “will” and “going to.” Be concise.
- Read each goal aloud: How does it sound? Does it make sense to hear yourself say it? Can you truly get behind these words?
The language you use in your goals is imperative. You are not only retooling your goals, but you are retooling your brain and how you are thinking of the future
Being involved in the construction industry for most of my life, measuring is a requirement for a successful project. Imagine if we didn’t measure what a building would look like? Measure twice; cut once—a similar principle with goal setting. To know if we are on track to meeting our goals, having small wins along the way will keep us focused and motivated.
- Get many pieces of paper. Give each goal its own sheet of paper, and write its name on top IN CAPS.
- Write 5-10 steps you need to do to hit the goal.
- If there are more than 10, refine the steps to be more specific.
- In your mind, “weigh” each step out. Are some steps “heavier” (meaning will take more time and effort) than others?
- Rewrite the list in a formal outline, so each step has equal “weight” in terms of what is needed for accomplishment.
As you crank through each of these tasks, look at every step along the way as a win and allow yourself a feeling of accomplishment. The more detailed you get, the quicker you can knock off some of your action points. Remember, it’s one handful of sand at a time to make a mountain!
Every action you accomplish is a win.
I’ve talked to many people over the years who tell me their long-term goals, and I say to them, “Is that attainable? If so, how are you going to execute it?” Then I get the hubba bubba’s. I’m all about shooting for the stars and stretching yourself, but at the same time, make sure it is attainable. Proposing unreachable goals can lead to discouragement, and then you’re done.
I wouldn’t tell my 10-year-old field hockey team that I expect them to be in the Olympics by year’s end: it’s just not attainable. But, I can say, we will learn foundational skills that will allow you to reach the Olympics in 8-10 years.
- With every piece of paper, you should now have many steps as an outline to hit each goal. Reread them all. Remember, this is your foundation.
- Circle all of the steps that you feel will be slam-dunks to finish.
- Look at the rest of the list. Do you feel you can accomplish these easily, or do you need extra assistance? Put a star next to any action points that may need help to complete.
The action items you can breeze through need to be done first. This will both give you momentum and vital feelings of accomplishment.
The more action items you cross off, the more you have evidence of success. This will be *imperative* in hitting your goals
Like attainability, we need to look ourselves in the mirror and say: am I truthful with myself and my team? I tend from time-to-time to be unrealistic because I truly believe that I will accomplish it if I put my mind to something. The reality is that isn’t always the case. At 5’9”, am I being realistic if I say that I can play in the NBA? No, not really. Sure it’s possible, but it’s not realistic.
- Examine the starred action points from above where you questioned the attainability.
- One by one, ask yourself truthfully — “Can I sincerely accomplish this?”
- Underline all that you feel you can accomplish.
- Look at the rest of the starred items. Can you still complete that initial goal realistically without these items? Have an honest reality check with yourself.
- If there are many items not underlined, the goal itself may not be realistic at this point (and that is ok!)
It is great to shoot for the stars! But, if you don’t make attainable and realistic action points and goals, you will never accomplish what you desire. And, you could set yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Making only realistic and attainable goals will deter feelings of frustration and self-doubt.
Imagine if we operated without a schedule? People would show up to work, games, zoom calls, or dinner whenever they wanted, and things would be challenging to get accomplished. Having time-based goals helps you prioritize your days and puts enough pressure on you to accomplish what needs to be done when it needs to be done. Utilizing your time is an important piece of success.
- For every page of your goals, review each attainable/realistic action point.
- Use this scale:
- 1 — accomplish this week
- 2 — accomplish this month
- 3 — accomplish in 3 months
- 4 — accomplish in 6 months
- 5 — accomplish in 1 year
- Put a “4” or a “5” to the goals that you labeled as broad “B.”
- On each goal sheet, put a number (1-5) next to each action item.
- Get 5 pieces of paper, write the headings “THIS WEEK”; “THIS MONTH”; “3 MONTH”’; “6 MONTH”; “1 YEAR” IN CAPS.
- Now transcribe each action item to its appropriate timesheet, indicating which goal you describe.
You just made a true blueprint of the next year.
Ok. Look at everything you have written down. What started as just a list of things you wanted to get done in a vague, abstract way is now becoming a concrete roadmap to getting to your destination.
What’s the last part of this process? EXECUTION. Remember, you can write down goals all day and organize them all you want. Until you actually *do* these items, you will be paralyzed by analysis.
Next time, we will wrap it up with tips on how to get moving and stay on track until, one by one, all of these dreams you are staring at on paper finally become part of your reality.
Go forth and conquer.