Welcome to Day Three of my series on SMART goal setting! Today we look at whether the goals we are setting for ourselves are achievable.
Now that we know where the goalposts are we can start playing the game. We have a big-picture version of our goals. That’s a great start, but that’s not where we stop. We’ve addressed Relevance, now it’s time to make sure our goals are achievable.
OK. Sure. Let’s take time out for a reality check. It was so nice to dream those big dreams yesterday but let’s get back to the real world and pretend we’re mature people.
No obligations. No stress. No interpersonal problems. No financial problems. Being healthy.
Four out of the five sound pretty unrealistic. Being healthy sounds like something we tell ourselves is possible all the time until we believe it, but in our everyday experience it can be just as unrealistic as living a life with no obligations. So let’s round that up to five unrealistic goals.
What’s the problem with obligations, anyway? I mean, I’m obliged to do a number of things I quite enjoy. Eating and sleeping are at the top of that list. I love to do both. I’m obliged to do both. That doesn’t concern me. I’m obliged to go in to work everyday in exchange for a pay-check. That’s quite a different obligation.
The problem seems to be when our obligations conflict with our passions. For someone who is passionate about their job, going in to work every day can be a pleasure.
As for stress, there is very little in the world that is immune from my anxiety. If it happens, or even if it doesn’t happen, I can stress over it. I can even lose sleep over it, which is a pain in the neck, since sleeping is one of my favourite things.
No interpersonal problems: well I can’t control everyone else. They get all snippy about it when I try. Just selfish, I tell you.
No financial problems: the money runs away like water. Sometimes it just seems to dry up and I was sure it was there yesterday.
Be healthy. I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.
Sure, you can.
Now that we’ve got all that out in the open, I want you to stop for a moment. Look at how I’m sabotaging myself. I’ve set five important goals and I’ve just talked myself out of achieving each and every one. With this mindset I might as well just give up.
Just think, Grace, what is that cottage on the beach worth to you?
This is why we set our destination first. It’s so easy to let go of big goals because they’re hard and sometimes seem downright unachievable. What is achievable?
I want to get healthy. How can I do that? I need to find ways to move this goal into the real world. My goalposts for being healthy are pretty low. I want to be able to go about my daily work without pain. I want to be able to go grocery shopping without having to have a rest afterwards. I’d really like to go down a dress size.
Are these achievable? Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t control whether or not I have pain. However, I can control whether I go to the doctor and talk to them about it. I can control whether or not I follow their advice. I can control the way I schedule my tasks so that I can be active when I need to be. I might have to work around my limitations but there is still progress to be made.
As for going down a dress size, that might be possible. That might mean losing 5kg. Is that achievable for me? If I eat right and exercise according to my ability, I might have a shot.
Financial problems- that’s going to be a whole series of posts next year. There’s a lot to unpack in this one.
No obligations? No stress? Let’s face it. We’ll never have a life with no obligations and no stress. We can’t control the external things that happen. What can we control? Your goals need to be set at a level where you can achieve them. There’s no point in saying you want to go for a run every day if chronic illness keeps you in bed.
You want to lose 30kg. That’s great! Sure, it’s not likely to happen, but I will support your dreams, baby.
You might stand a better chance of reaching your goal if you set it a little lower, though. If you set your goal too high then you’re going to set yourself up for failure. Better to set a lower goal that you have a chance of achieving.
We’re going to be going deeper into this aspect of goal setting tomorrow when we talk specifics.