You’re probably familiar with the concept of SMART goals. SMART is commonly defined as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Organizations use these goals with two primary aims in mind. When addressing each aspect of the initials in SMART goals, the anticipated result is a clearly-defined direction for employees, and a well-set timeline to overcome procrastination and motivate employees to stay on track.
It is easy to see how you could expect SMART goals to work best when you are trying to reach a well-defined concrete target under a steady-state situation. Where you can see the target as realistic and the progress within your control, they are great for providing short-term direction and planning progress toward a long-term goal.
When SMART goals don’t work well
It is dangerous when SMART goals are blindly applied to every pursuit. For people who are aiming for big dreams that venture into new territories, or organizations that want to truly achieve ultimate greatness, especially in a dynamic environment, SMART goals are often inadequate, and sometimes detrimental.
To avoid such mistakes in applying SMART goals, it is helpful to know where and why they do not work. There are six primary problems inherent with SMART goals.
1. Focusing too narrowly on a SMART goal
Fixating on a single SMART goal, it is easy to fall into the trap of seeing it as the only goal. Looking at the SMART goal in the context of the competing and contributing goals will likely influence your actions regarding the single goal.
2. Using SMART goals to measure success and failure
SMART goals need to be specific and measurable, so you can objectively evaluate if you have reached the goal or not. They are effective in managing progress when working on projects in a controllable environment. However, if you apply the same criteria to measure success or failure, it can motivate people in the wrong way, and when the situation is dynamic or extreme, it can even be dangerous.
When success is measured by a SMART goal, people end up pursuing that goal blindly. Failure to meet a SMART goal will then be demotivating. Employees only see losses, unable to appreciate what they have achieved, even if the precise objective is not entirely met. What drives them to success when things go well, may send them into a tailspin when they do not.
3. Sacrificing long-term success for a short-term goal
Turn to any business or market news channel, and you will find a portion of the daily news is about how much the stock price of companies rises or falls because they beat or missed their quarterly earnings target or market expectations. To an outsider, earnings appear to be the most prominent measure of a company’s performance. Because of the likely negative market reaction to missing their earnings target, firms commonly take extreme measures to meet expectations. They put meeting the quarterly SMART goals set by Wall Street above their customers and their long-term success. Eventually, that strategy will be fatal for business.
4. Giving up too soon and the all-or-nothing approach
A SMART goal can be discouraging, either before or after reaching the goal. Have you ever heard yourself saying, “I don’t have time,” when excusing yourself for not doing what you had planned for that day? Time management is one of the most popular applications of SMART goals. When you think about allocating time to do a certain task, it’s often in terms of all-or-nothing. SMART goals are viewed as a complete entity, and when you are unable to do everything as planned, you can become discouraged and give up the entire goal.
5. Failing to realize one’s full potential
Even when people reach their SMART goal, it may not be a real success. While working toward SMART goals can motivate you along the way, they can also operate like a stop sign that makes you fall short of your full potential. There’s a tendency to view achieving a business goal as an ending. Setting goals that are too easy will not move most people to achieve more than the minimum; they miss the opportunity for growth and they will never know what they might have achieved if the goal had been more challenging.
6. ‘Realistic’ and ‘Achievable’ can be misleading
When you are pursuing “realistic” and “achievable” goals such as your next promotion, next higher sales numbers, next award, you should pause for a moment to ask, “At what cost?”
People who are self-driven have a tendency to overload themselves with too many top priorities. An item is number one for a reason, so with too many number one priorities, the number becomes meaningless. Something has to be number two, number three, and so on.
When you look at each goal in isolation, it’s seen as realistic and achievable within a certain time frame. The tendency is to be overly ambitious, thinking, “I will figure out a way to fit it in!” But realistic is a relative term, not an absolute term. It is not just considering, “Is this goal realistic considering my capability?” but also, “Is this goal realistic considering all my other goals?”
Pursuing a lofty dream and fulfilling your greater purpose requires a broad vision, one that goes way beyond the immediacy of the next SMART goal. SMART goals can serve as checkpoints in your long journey to keep you on the path toward success. It is important to measure progress by growth and effort as well, because it is the growth and learning along the way that are of the most value.
This article was written by Lei Wang, an internationally-recognized adventurer, motivational speaker and author of After the Summit: New Rules for Reaching Your Peak Potential in Your Career and Life. The first Asian woman to complete Explorers Grand Slam (climb the highest peak on each continent and ski to both poles), Lei channels her experiences to convey a message of perseverance and steadfast determination that her audiences can use at work or at home.
I know success leaves clues. It’s why I’m so interested in the routines and habits of the most successful people. I’ve found once I implement behaviors that have been proven to work, I always experience positive change.
And how do I know that these behaviors are proven? Because of the results that they create for tons of successful people―and because they are backed by science.
When a book comes out that distills the routines of the most successful people, I know it’s something that I have to read. One that I recently picked up was Tools of Titans, Tim Ferriss’ new book. It’s huge―673 pages long!
Over the past few years, Tim has interviewed almost 200 world-class performers, and he distilled all of these interviews into one book. His interviewees included top athletes, entertainers, doctors, investors, entrepreneurs, authors and researchers.
Three practices stood out to me; three things that almost all of the people interviewed for the book do. But they’re behaviors that most of us never even think about. I want to share them with you so that you can see the secrets of the ultra-successful―and be able to transform your own life using these practices.
More than 80 percent of the people Tim interviewed have a meditation ritual. And among those who don’t, most have a practice similar to meditation, such as listening to the same song or artist on repeat.
According to Tim, meditation sets you up for success, because “by practicing focus when it doesn’t matter, you can better focus when it does matter.” Based on his interviews, he found that men tend to like Transcendental meditation, whereas women prefer Vipassana meditation.
When I read these facts in the book, I wasn’t surprised. I already knew the Marines use it to become more resilient in war zones and sports teams, such the Super Bowl-winning Seattle Seahawks, credit meditation with improved performance.
Meditation is one of the best ways to “control your brain,” and science backs this up. It’s like daily exercise for your brain. Meditation is a way to stop that voice in your head. It’s how you silence the voice that tells you to give up and that you’re not good enough.
It also makes you happier, less depressed and anxious, a better decision maker and more compassionate. Tim recommends starting with the apps Headspace and Calm, seeing which one you prefer, and then devoting just a few minutes a day to this practice.
2. A Morning Routine
I love this quote from Tim: “The first 60- to- 90 minutes of the day handicap the next 12 hours.”
Among those he profiled, most had a morning routine. Laura Vanderkam, an expert on creating habits, found the same thing―that almost all successful people have a morning routine.
Think about a typical morning: You’re rushing, barely get any food in your system, let alone a nutritious breakfast, getting the kids out the door and leaving the house feeling stressed and like you’re already behind. This was how I felt for years, until I implemented a morning routine into my life.
You see, with a morning routine, you have control over how your day begins. This is really important because research out of Wharton and Ohio State shows that your mood in the morning affects your productivity all day.
Instead of putting out fires from the moment you wake up, you have the time to start your day with a positive mindset and gear up for making the most of the day. So what should be in your morning routine? Most of the people in Tim’s book meditate in the morning and many exercise and journal. I like to plan out the one or two most important tasks I have planned for the day―my “must-dos.”
3. Focusing on Your Strengths
This third practice is less of a routine and more of a mindset. Every single one of us is flawed. We’re all human, after all! Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that the most successful people got that way because they are somehow less flawed.
This is an absolute fallacy, one that Tim points out in the book. All of the “superheroes” he interviewed have struggled, just like you and me. The reason for their successes is notbecause they don’t have weaknesses.
Instead, according to Tim, the most successful among us are “walking flaws who have maximized one or two strengths.” We all have our own individual strengths, and it’s the people who discover their own strengths and really develop them who become the most successful.
They set up habits that align with their strengths. Are you a good writer? Than make writing every day a habit. Is connecting one of your strengths? Then make seeing friends a daily routine. Whatever your unique gifts are, work on strengthening them every single day.
And don’t let your weaknesses get you down. The most successful are the ones who stopped focusing on their weaknesses and instead focused on improving their strengths.
Today I challenge you to try out one of these three practices. Spend 10 minutes meditating, plan out a morning routine for tomorrow, or take 15 minutes and work on your signature strength. You’ll be on your way to success in no time.
This article was written by Mel Robbins, a contributing editor to SUCCESS magazine, best-selling author, CNN commentator, and motivational speaker.
All of us have had the experience of doing too many things at once. Of driving while listening to the radio, eating a burrito and talking to a friend all at once. While it’s amazing that human beings can juggle so many things at once — a testament to our versatility — it’s also a fantastic way to end up with salsa in your lap, or even to get into an accident. (Check out Werner Herzog’s heart-rending documentary, From One Second to the Next, about the perils of driving while texting.)
Other situations may not be quite as dangerous, but still there are drawbacks to splitting your attention. Imagine college students say, trying to win at a video game; drink alcohol; listen to music; talk to several friends; eat a pizza; and flirt with potential sex partners at the same time. While that can be fun, they will probably fail or do poorly at most of them. Simultaneously doing a good job at so many activities is hard. And the old adage that anything worth doing is worth doing well, is still as true as it ever was.
The antidote to doing too many things at once is, of course, to only do one thing at a time. That’s the most basic definition of concentration: doing one thing at a time.
Doing one thing at a time is probably the most basic habit of concentration, and one of the most powerful. It is the easiest thing you can do to create a massive increase in your ability to focus.
The term for working with split attention is multitasking. Multitasking enjoys a great reputation currently, but he fact is that we are never actually multitasking. Instead the brain switches between each task quickly, and does each activity in succession. The trouble is that each task switch actually has a cost overhead. It’s not easy for your brain to switch tasks. It takes time and invokes a second level of executive functioning, meaning that you have to use a lot of resources to switch tasks. This task-switching overhead can actually become quite a drain on your overall effectiveness. You’ll do each thing much worse than if you had done it on its own. And the task-switching overhead multiplies exponentially with the number of things being juggled.
That means when you reduce the number of things you are mentally juggling, the cognitive cost is vastly reduced. Just changing from three objects to two objects frees up a tremendous amount of overhead. The best, however, is to reduce the number of things you are doing or thinking about to one at a time. This lowers the juggling overhead to zero, and allows you to focus 100 percent of your brain on a topic.
Develop a habit of doing one thing at a time.
Living in a world of distractions is nothing more than a habit we have gotten used to. The answer is to begin making a new habit of doing just one thing at a time. Every time you catch yourself doing too many things at once, come back to just the essential thing that matters. Practice this all day long, whether working or playing. Gently remind yourself, “One thing at a time.”
Success depends on having good self discipline and good boundaries with other people. If someone interrupts you, or engages you while you are busy, stop and let them know that you’ll get back with them later. Or if it can’t wait, completely stop what you are doing, engage with the person, and then once everything is handled come back to what you were doing previously.
Usually the hardest person to maintain such firm boundaries with is yourself. Our habits of distraction have developed over an entire lifetime. We crave a superfluidity of stimulation in the environment, almost like an addiction. There is an almost physical urge to turn on the television, or to check the smartphone.
You can quickly determine how strong this need for distraction is by experimenting with doing just one thing at a time. Shut everything off and do something simple with no distractions. The first thing that happens, often, is that mind begins to complain “This is boring. There’s something on TV. Why can’t I just play some music? What’s wrong with eating while studying?” And so on. You might experience anything from mild discomfort to an almost irresistible compulsion to bring back the distractions.
That’s okay. That’s the starting place. Just have compassion for yourself, and attempt to enforce some discipline about doing one thing at a time while trying to concentrate. Concentrating without distractions will eventually reveal itself to be incredibly pleasant. Unlike getting tangled up in a spaghetti of distractions, it can leave you feeling energized and refreshed. Strong, stable focus can really increase your feelings of satisfaction and sense of richness in whatever you are doing. You can even enter flow — a very calm, focused state that is so pleasurable it’s worth doing for its own sake, regardless of the activity. It’s not that difficult. All it takes is a little practice.
So try doing one thing at a time. And read the rest of the “Concentration Series“ to learn more about how to increase your powers of attention.
This article was written by Michael Taft, a meditation teacher, bestselling author, and neuroscience junkie. As a mindfulness coach, he specializes in secular, science-based mindfulness training in groups, corporate settings, and one-on-one sessions.
WHEN I look back on my goals for last year, I realise something that would once have sent me into a spectacular tail-spin.
Now, before you deem me a failure or send emergency remedies of wine and chocolate for my depressive state, I must tell you that I feel okay about this. In fact, I really couldn’t care less. It might even feel good.
You can still send wine and chocolate if you wish.
The thing is, last year I set goals I felt were expected of someone in my position, things that would be good for me to do. For example, lose 10kgs, achieve XYZ in business, meditate every day, blah blah blah, but in fact, they meant nothing to my heart and I now realise I have been doing this goal setting business all wrong.
You see, when our goals have no feeling or meaning connected to them, and they come from a place of fear rather than following our nose to what we love to do, then those goals are bound to fall into the refuse tip of broken dreams and discarded New Year’s resolutions. Or even worse, we might spend all year blindly slaving over pointless, empty stuff we don’t even care about.
So, why do we bother setting goals at the beginning of the year? Is it really because we want to do and achieve more? I think not.
I believe it’s because we want to take a fresh opportunity to feel more, be more and contribute more. With me on this? Then read on.
All the feels…
I’d argue we wish to start afresh each year because we desire to feel differently – about our work and ourselves. When we recall the relatively short-lived moments of success from last year, or as we’re ticking off our career to-do list, we might notice that it seems like a whole lot of striving in return for a few rather fleeting moments of accomplishment. Lots of “feel bad” and not enough “feel good”.
When we set our intentions, not for what we want to do, but for how we want to feel and be, everything changes for us. If we want to feel a sense of progress in our role or business, then we will focus on things that carry us forward. If we want to feel competent and capable in our leadership, we choose to take on challenges that lead us to learning and growth. If we want to feel connected with our purpose, then we must choose to shed the daily distractions and focus on the work that truly lights us up.
So, let me ask you: how do you want to “feel” this year? Start by identifying three to four key feelings you’d like to carry you through this year, and then map your planned goals and activities back to those feelings.
Insert meaning here…
At the start of the year, we can be prone to melancholy reflection and searching for the meaning in our work and careers. We might wonder what the point of our work actually is, what, or who, it’s all for (and do they actually care?), and perhaps to question whether we’re making an impact at all.
Be warned though, searching externally, in places outside of yourself, work, business or partnerships, for those answers is a trap and a complete waste of time.
Instead, when it comes to finding the purpose of our contributions this year, we must go inside ourselves. This means filtering out all the expectations of others, and quietly asking ourselves a simple question: what lights me up?
So, insert your own meaning into the contributions you choose to make -no searching required. By the way, if the way you spend your waking hours doesn’t light you up, well… you’ve got choices. Make them.
Plan from a place of love, not fear.
Finally, nothing brings better feels or meaning than working from a place of love. So, what does that mean, and how do we do it?
I always start by identifying the contrast – this means that sometimes it’s easier to know what makes us feel bad, fearful or heavy. From there, we can more easily determine that “if I don’t want more of this, then I do want more of that”. The things we want more of will be the things we love, that allow us to feel light, happy and as though our contribution is meaningful.
The funny thing is what you want, and what you don’t want, are the two opposite ends of the same stick.
This article was written by ANGELA KONING
While we know consistency is the key to success or accomplishment in sport (or life), it is also the hardest to master, especially this time of the year. Acquisition and mastery of a skill, a technique, or a lifestyle change will require you to be a consistent athlete. So how do we stay consistent with being consistent? Here are a few tips to help you stay on your game through the holidays and feeling confident.
TIP #1: Make a conscious decision to remain consistent.
Say out loud to yourself, “I am committed to remaining consistent each day in my goal. I am doing this!” Notice the statement is in the present tense. This technique commands your subconscious mind to act now, not later. Consistent actions require consistent thinking, specifically consistent thoughts that you are and will remain consistent.
TIP #2: Revise your concept of time.
The only time you have is RIGHT NOW. Later on, next week, next month, or next year is only a concept or thought in your mind. Tomorrow is not here, next week, month, or next year is not here. Right now is here. The point of power is always in the present moment and all the anxieties or worries about later on are not happening now. So let go of thinking, “I have to be disciplined and consistent all day, week, month, or year,” TO “I am disciplined in this moment. Right now is the only moment I need to pay attention to. I am only required to be consistent and disciplined in this moment.” Be in the NOW.
TIP #3: Have a plan. Know your objective.
The definition of a “plan” is: “A scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective:” A plan is in place so that you don’t have to do the thinking before hand or in the moment. Preparation is consistency’s wonderful cousin!
You must have a plan to be successful, even if it’s a daily plan. For example, you could prepare your meals for the week or get a nutrition consult for a meal plan. Pack your gym clothes the night before and write in your planner what your workouts will be for the week. Buy and implement TriMarni Coaching and Nutrition 5-week Triathlon Transition Plan to build base and strength.
It is imperative that you have a plan so that you know where to direct your actions, thoughts, effort, and time. It must be a plan that you want. It must be in line with your values and your hearts desire. The more emotionally invested you are in your plan, the more you will remain committed, the higher your chances are for success.
TIP #4: Remember that feelings and thoughts are temporary and subjective.
Any negative feeling or thought that could intrude on you being consistent is temporary. It is an illusion. In the moment it feels very powerful, but in an hour, 10 minutes, or tomorrow you could feel very different. Don’t let temporary illusions of stress, anxieties, worry, or insecurity derail you from your plan. In moments like these it’s critical that you push through the discomfort and JUST DO IT! Execute. Do the workout, eat the healthier option, or make the time. Remind yourself how you will feel after your workout, or after you have conquered the moment. It will be worth it.
TIP #5: Do one thing at a time. Be in the present moment.
In my mindfulness skills training we call this doing one thing mindfully. It is being fully and 100% present in your moment. Allow your mind and body to be present and engaged. When you find yourself distracted or your mind wandering you bring it back to full attention of your moment. For example, if you are working on foot position, pedal stroke, freestyle catch, elbow angle, etc. you are fully and acutely tuned in to that and only that aspect, nothing more and nothing less. This concept is why mantras and self-talk are powerful. They bring your attention back to the constructive action at hand and in the moment.
BONUS TIP: A great concept that I came across, thanks to one of my Wattie Ink teammates Chris Hague, is thinking of this time as “pre-season” versus “off-season.” Off-season sometimes implies letting everything go, permission to be in excess, or dare I say it, an excuse to not be as disciplined as we normally would be. “Pre-season” has come to mean, for me, preparation, transition, build up rather than let go. It gives me a sense of focus and empowerment. Try it out and see if it works for you my fellow triathlete’s. Obviously, for my runners/trial runners, short course swimmers, skiers, basketball players, and footballers we are still in season so this may work for you later:)
When all else fails and the above tips do not work, then use the foolproof guide below to help you stay consistent.
If you are “not feeling like it”…do it any way.
If you are sad…do it any way.
If you are busy…do it any way.
If you are tired…do it any way.
If you are feeling good…do it any way.
If you are “too stressed”…do it any way.
If you are unmotivated…do it any way.
If you are on vacation…do it any way.
If you are unsure…do it any way.
If you find yourself making excuses…do it any way.
No matter what trust that you can and will stay consistent. Be patient one moment at a time. You are an amazing person with valuable gifts to offer the world, but first master the gift of giving the best to yourself- through being consistent with your hearts desire. Once you stay consistent with yourself, every thing else falls into place.
This article was written by Dr. Petruzzelli, an accomplished athlete who played competitive soccer for 18 years before transitioning to competing in triathlons and road racing.
A couple months ago, I found myself “working” from morning until bed time, nearly everyday. It wasn’t because I had hideous piles of projects to tend to, nor because of excessive deadlines or work-related burdens. The reason? I was unproductive. I’d spend an hour on a client project and then get lost in The Black Hole of Facebook for an internet eternity. Or I’d research something for a blog post and then click around Buzzfeed or Instagram or Twitter and completely forget what the hell I was trying to do in the first place. Friends would coo about how lucky I was to have a flexible schedule and I was just over here like, “if getting shit done were a sport, I’d be picked last.”
So I changed things. A lot of things, actually.
On the bright side, most of the things I shook up were easy fixes. I didn’t have to buy expensive software or completely restructure my day. The toughest part was just acclimating myself to a new routine. Not bad, right? Here are a few things that have really helped me in my quest to drastically increase my productivity. Because getting shit done is actually kind of awesome. Who’da thunk?
1. Have one desk for technology and one desk for everything else.
I actually remember reading this tip in Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Arist a couple years ago, but only recently put it into practice. Let me tell you: it kicks ass. This especially works well for creative-type jobs where you deal with both physical and digital elements. In my case, I do sketches and lettering at one desk and designing and blogging at another. By the way, my “other desk” is actually just my kitchen table…no need to be fancy! It really helps to have sectioned-off areas for specific tasks. It also means that I don’t get sidetracked by my phone when I’m working on ideas for a logo.
2. Turn off social media notifications on your phone.
In fact, I recommend just deleting the apps altogether. I used to check Facebook and Twitter on my phone 900 times a day. I wouldn’t retain anything I read. It was like those moments in college when I tried opening my science textbooks — my brain just fell asleep. Now, instead of immediately checking Facebook at the first buzz of my phone, I open it in my web browser when I plan to spend a few intentional minutes on it, mostly seeing what my friends are up to.
3. Make priority lists, not to do lists.
I used to make to do lists — you know, the kind with 97 items on them with no listed deadlines or level of importance. Writing out my to do lists made me feel productive, but at the end of the day, when I found only 30% completed, I realized I was doing them all wrong. Now, I make priority lists, and I’ve been using an app called Clear that makes them really easy (and almost kind of fun in a Type A kind of way). You basically just make your to do lists in separate, organized lists, and then order each item by importance and urgency, so that “doing laundry” isn’t listed as highly as “install client website.” You can set reminders, and I always write the deadline next to each listed item as well. It’s been massively helpful!
4. Spend mornings getting things done.
I’m not particularly a morning person, so every morning, I used to coax myself out of bed by scrolling through Instagram and responding to emails. But I found that waking up this way always killed my productivity (and creativity). By the time I was finished, it was nearly afternoon and I was cross-eyed with trying to reach inbox zero and desired taking a nap more than finishing anything else on my to do list. Now, I try not to check my email or any social media accounts until after lunch. Instead, when I wake up, I immediately start working on my big items for the day, according to what is highest on my Clear schedule. Not only does it feel awesome to have accomplished so much by noon, but it also means that I can relax with emails and social media after lunch, when I’m tired anyways.
5. Don’t be so hard on yourself.
You know what I’d do when I’d spend too long doing nothing when I should have been doing a whole lot of somethings? I’d get a little angry with myself. Being mad at myself certainly didn’t make me want to accomplish more. In fact, it probably made me want to do even less. Now, when I realize I’ve been lazing around for too long, I forgive myself and move on.
This article was written by Melyssa Griffin, a successful online teacher, writer, and an entrepreneur who specializes in topics like list-building, online course creation, webinars, and Pinterest marketing.