Wednesday, January 25, 2023

SMART Goals? REAL Goals? YOUR Goals

 Every month, I set goals for myself. Sitting down and writing out what I want to accomplish focuses me and helps me to juggle the various aspects of my life -- one step in moving toward an often elusive work-life blend.

Often, I overshoot. Sometimes, the balls I'm juggling all come crashing to the ground.

Someone else reviewing my goals might suggest that I create goals that are more realistic, or that I pull back and set goals in fewer areas. If I were being evaluated by anyone but myself on the goals I set, or if my professional progress depended on meeting my goals, that's exactly what I'd do.

But I've come to like overshooting. My goals aren't the SMART goals embraced by businesses and, taken together, they're not even the REAL goals I've written about.

Separately, however, REAL goals is exactly what they are. They represent a combination of hopes, dreams and the actions necessary to make them happen. When I judge my progress on a black-and-white, success-or-failure scale, it's easy to feel defeated, but when I focus on growth, I not only feel better, but I also know exactly where to go with my goals for the next month.

When we fail, we have several choices. We can huddle in a corner feeling defeated. We can get angry and beat ourselves up. We can lament how we'll never amount to anything because we missed an imaginary goal post we erected ourselves.

That doesn't sound very smart, does it?

I prefer to take the growth mindset approach I teach my students. Failure teaches. It tells us whether the goal posts are too close, too far, or just right. Sitting down and writing a short narrative to myself about my progress on each of my goals helps me to reflect on whether or not my focus was in the right place and to shape the next month's goals accordingly.

No matter how realistic our goals, we will sometimes fail to reach them. Life intervenes, sometimes in good ways and sometimes in ways we'd rather not imagine. Tossing out our goals because we're afraid we won't reach them deprives us of the wonderful sense of accomplishment we earn when we do.

Life is full of failure. It's all in how you frame it. As for me and my goals, we plan to emerge victorious.

At least some of the time.

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