Saturday, January 31, 2009


As part of my strengths project, I’m working on helping people get things done. So you wanna get something done? Set the goal, and make it SMART, as in:

Time-bound, trackable

Okay, I’ll admit I’ve talked about goals before in this very blog. This is a different twist.

Maybe you’re trying to start a mindfulness meditation practice (and please see Kabat-Zinn for wonderful ideas on the nature of such a practice). So you tell yourself on Saturday you’ll practice meditating daily. Of course, you meditate on Saturday, and maybe Sunday. By the following Saturday (I like weeks for tracking progress, but it’s entirely up to you) you barely even remember you set the goal of starting your practice, much less know how much you accomplished, what’s left to do, etc. With SMART goals, you can assess progress, and more.

For starters, be specific. I’m going to start a mindfulness meditation practice by meditating daily. Okay. Nice and clear. If I wanted to be a little more specific I could say I’m going to meditate every morning at 5:45AM for 15 minutes. Now that would be quite clear and specific. Generally speaking, experts prefer goals stated as positives (I’m going to…) versus negatives (I’m not going to…). It feels better.

Next, I’m going to measure my progress. Either I meditated daily or not, right? Quite right and often motivating in and of itself. It’s very nice to be able to say that you’ve done something two days in a row, three days, etc.

Attainable and realistic are similar. I like to think of attainable as reflecting the notion that I can actually do it. I can meditate daily. Attainable goals are usually performance goals (e.g., doing it daily), not outcome goals (e.g., in a week I’ll feel more relaxed as a result of meditating).

Realistic is an answer to the question: am I really going to do it? Really? Maybe I’d decide that I’m only going to meditate on the days I don’t run, just to be realistic.

Finally, time-bound. Can I track my progress in time. Of course, daily, specific, measurable goals are usually trackable. Tracking give the thing an urgency. I’m going to see how many days out of the next seven I can do this. It also makes it tangible. You can see your progress by tracking it in your planner, on or in some other concrete manner. In other words, I highly recommend writing it down. The progress makes you feel good.

So go for it and make it SMART. And Namaste.

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