Last week we survived ‘Black Monday’, apparently the lowest point of the year. It’s said that many New Year resolutions have gone by the way side by now and that the boost of motivation and optimism that many felt on New Year’s Eve and early January has well and truly evaporated.
This pattern of setting goals with great ambitions and hope of change one day, and feelings of disappointment and ‘being stuck in a rut’ the next, is not exclusive to this time of year. Though a lot of attention is paid to change at the beginning of the year and the focus on goal setting is magnified by the amount of us setting our New Year resolutions at the same time, many will agree that there are a number of times through the year we try to improve or change things. What a shame otherwise – if we missed the January flurry we’d have to wait 12 months to try and improve things!
Regardless of the time of year, many people find themselves setting, losing sight of and resetting roughly the same goals and ambitions over and over. So what makes us continuously fail going for the things we ultimately want?
Well, I’d argue the main tool used in goal setting today isn’t enough. Namely, the acronym SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
SMART is wildly used and accepted in today’s western world. Within the world of work it’s used for setting objectives and individuals often use it in their own personal goal setting.
I totally agree that the rules applied here are sound, however, SMART only deals with the goals. Not the person who’s going to achieve them. Not YOU! This is where RACE comes in. RACE is to the person, what SMART is to the goal. Here’s what it stands for:
Responsibility – this is about the fact that unless we take full responsibility for our own goals and dreams, we will never reach them. That ownership is vital! We often blame others or the circumstances we’re in for our own failings – only when we take complete responsibility are we in control of reaching our dreams. This also relates to the fact that we often put our own happiness and ambitions in the hands of those around us. If our goal involves someone loving us more or someone apologising to us, we are really setting ourselves up to fail. In no way are we in control of this happening and we therefore cannot take responsibility for it.
Action – often we plan, discuss and make decisions on what we’ll do and how we’ll improve things in our minds and with those around us, and whilst doing so we almost feel like we are moving closer to our goals. However, it’s only when we actually take action and DO something that we start getting nearer them. Many little things will add up to the big stuff – focus on at least taking one small action in the right direction every day.
Commitment – if we aren’t dedicated to achieving our goals and dreams we’ll soon lose sight of them. Ultimately, growing and implementing change in our lives will involve some degree of discomfort as it by virtue involves us pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. To stick with it when the going gets tough (maybe when that cream bun is calling, when the unknown scares us, when we feel uncomfortable letting go of control, etc, etc …), we must be 100% committed to ourselves and our own dreams.
Emotional – perhaps the most important rule for our personal success – we must be emotionally attached to our goals. If we don’t care about them, we’ll soon lose sight of them. They must be our friends, especially when the going gets tough as mentioned in the last point. This is also why it’s vital that the motivation for setting our goals comes from ourselves – if they are set for the benefit of someone else, for example to please your partner or parent, you won’t have this vital emotional connection to them. The goals could then feel more of an enemy than a friend, which is never going to work!
So review your goals and make sure these four ingredients are in the mix and once you’re confident that they are, set off and RACE towards your dreams