How to set goals, reach them and be really happy
In this article you will discover the principles to respect to set professional or personal goals to maximize your chances of reaching them and to feel really satisfied.
If you have an important goal that you cannot reach or if you just want to progress in your life, you will find in this article several elements of answer to your questions.
In this article you will discover:
- the smart model that describes the main factors that make it possible to define a goal
- how the goal is often only the beginning of a larger project
- how your values influence your well-being and the achievement of your goals
- the pitfalls in defining and pursuing a goal
The smart model: the main factors that make it possible to define a goal
The smart model is used to frame a professional or personal goal. This model creates a clear vision of the goal to be achieved. Here are the details of this model.
S as specific
The goal you set for yourself must be clear and precise.
You must have no doubt about the expected end result.
Having a clear goal helps to set a first path to take to direct you toward your goal.
With time, the path becomes more and more precise but this path is constantly changing.
The main mistake of some people is to convince themselves that there is only one way to achieve what they want to achieve.
Be careful not to mix the specificity of the goal with the strategy you use to pursue it.
If, on the one hand, the goal has to be specific, on the other hand your strategy must be extremely flexible.
With time and especially with the actions you put in place, your goal will become more and more precise and you will begin to perceive it in all its small details.
Days after days, you will transform your inner vision into a perceptible reality.
The specificity of the objective and in particular the fact of writing it makes it possible to mobilize very powerful and very useful unconscious processes.
Among these processes, the reticulated activator system would act as an intermediary between your conscious and your subconscious.
Effective activation of the reticular activation system would:
- improve focus on the goal
- increase the commitment towards reaching the latter
- act in coherence with your objective
If you focus on the obstacles between you and your success, you will quickly become unmotivated and you will not want to do anything.
If, on the contrary, you think of the advantages and benefits you will experience, you will be in a state of almost excitement and you will feel a strong desire to act to achieve your goal.
What you choose to see becomes your reality, influences your present and changes your future.
To sum up, if the goal is to be specific, the strategy to achieve it must be very flexible.
M as measurable
Once the goal is set, it is important to be able to estimate the distance between the latter and you in order to estimate the length of the path that remains to be traveled.
Doing this allows you to constantly measure your progress and organize your actions by following partial steps.
The objective can then be divided into intermediate objectives or even mini objectives.
Doing this helps to keep and reinforce motivation but also to get out of blocking moments.
It is easier to keep motivation when you understand that a given action corresponds to a given result and therefore a given progress.
Motivation is enhanced when one develops a habit of organized and effective action.
We avoid blockages because it is much easier to take small actions regularly than to face all the difficulties in a too short time period.
Measuring the goal and breaking it down into mini-steps also helps to realize the resources needed to carry it out.
This allows you to understand what is the price to pay to achieve a goal and to check if you are ready to pay this price.
It is at this stage that some people understand that they are not sufficiently motivated or that the price to be paid is too high and that it could negatively impact other important areas of their lives.
This refers to the notion of value and it is a dimension that is too often neglected in favor of a focus on ephemeral success and leading to failure.
We will see later in this article the importance of knowing your values well to pursue and achieve goals that make you happier.
To summarize, the measurable goal must be broken down to facilitate your motivation, progress towards your goal with continuity and check whether you are willing to pay the price to get it.
A as achievable
Do you really think you can reach your goal?
Do you have the resources and the skills to reach it?
Answering these questions objectively and without idealizing the situation makes it possible to check whether the objective is within your reach or not.
This is the moment to evaluate your real chances of success by taking as a reference the current situation.
Do you have the human qualities to stay motivated when difficulties arise?
Are you ready to take the necessary steps to manage your weaknesses and if so, how long are you going to do it?
Again, answering these questions will keep your feet on the ground and avoid imagining a situation that is too far from your current reality.
Doing this may allow you to resize the size of your goal, or on the contrary, you will realize that your goal is not ambitious enough.
To summarize, the goal must be motivating and consistent with your current situation.
R as realistic
The goal must be important to you and have a deep meaning.
What will it bring you to reach your goal?
How will achieving this goal improve the quality of your life or that of others?
What are your deepest personal motivations for getting up every morning and acting consistently with what you want?
To sum up, what are the deep motivations behind your goal?
T as time
Your goal must be defined in time.
This is essential to define the pace and intensity of the actions you are going to take.
You will not organize your day the same way if you have a month or year to reach your goal.
Once this time has been set, check if it is really enough or if you need a little more time.
But above all, why did you set this precise deadline?
Are you just in a hurry?
Do you need a little time because another goal depends on it?
Have you thought about the disadvantages?
Ask yourself more about this time to see if it should not be changed.
To summarize, set a specific timeframe after verifying that this is an acceptable timeframe for you.
Improve the SMART model
The smart model is not perfect because it does not take into account other important factors like for example
- the ecology of the goal
- the ethics of the goal
- the planning, implementation and regular measurement of the goal
- writing and regular exposure to the goal
Your goal must be ecological
Sometimes people complain about a lack of success without questioning more about the root causes of what they call failures.
It is likely that in some cases the failure to achieve a goal is just a defense mechanism that allows you to avoid much larger losses.
To avoid such situations, it is important to constantly take stock of all possible scenarios that may occur if this objective is achieved. Evaluating the weight of advantages and disadvantages allows you to act more rationally and avoid many disappointments.
On the other hand, it is not always possible to evaluate the consequences of our actions because our vision of the reality as well as the understanding of the experience of our interlocutors are only partial.
Before acting, base your thinking on the elements in your possession and try to evaluate in a most objective way the advantages and disadvantages of your decision.
You must take into account all areas of your life i.e. everything that affects your professional and personal life.
Even after performing a thorough analysis of your life, you will not be safe from surprises but at least you will be less affected and you will have better chances to bounce back effectively and quickly.
Even if you think that the goal you have set for yourself is perfect, take some time to question the validity of your vision of the situation. Summarizing, it is desirable to spend a little more time on this phase because it is the penultimate check before collecting the fruits of your actions.
Your goal must be ethical
To properly define a goal, the goal must be ethical.
Once you have verified that reaching the goal you have set yourself will not bring disadvantages in the different areas of your life, you still have to check that the goal does not bring issues to other individuals.
You have to be honest because it is not about winning at all costs. You must be clear about your values and act according to these values.
Otherwise, even if you succeed, you will not be completely satisfied because this victory will be at the expense of your most important values.
To avoid this, make a list of the 10 most important values for you and rank them in order of importance.
Then check if there are any conflicts between your values first and then between your values and the goal you have set for yourself.
If these inconsistencies can be easily resolved, consistently change your scale of values and your goal.
This exercise will allow you to clarify what is most important to you first and then act more effectively.
Your goal needs to be planned, implemented, and measured every day
Some people do not perceive the importance of planning and implementing actions that allow them to get closer to their goals.
The planning and implementation of actions are strongly linked. Planning is the virtual aspect of implementation, but its role is often misunderstood.
The planning of your actions is actually a precursor of these same actions. It is a kind of preparation allowing you to develop an overall vision of your near future.
Consistency in the implementation of your actions is the key factor that allows you to maximize your chances of success in your professional and personal life.
Some believe that success depends on some isolated events that occur in their lives. But long-term success is not a coincidence.
On the contrary, it is only by constantly trying to change your own existence that you will actually be able to build your ideal reality.
Try every day to adapt your strategy to your goals and the context in which you are. The more you will be able to implement regular and flexible actions and the better your chances of success.
But your success in life also depends on your ability to evaluate the effectiveness of your actions. It is therefore vital to regularly measure the distance to your goal. This is important because you can quickly correct the direction of your actions and adapt to the specificities of your situation.
Your goal must be written and always visible
To achieve your professional and personal goals, it is necessary to express the objectives in writing.
This is very important once again because writing facilitates the triggering of unconscious processes that are true enablers of your success. Depriving yourself of the power of the unconscious can greatly reduce your chances of reaching your goal.
Studies conducted by Harvard University in the 1970s clearly show that those who write their goals and act constantly to achieve them are also those who achieve the greatest results compared to those who do not.
In addition, expressing your objective in writing on a sheet, for example, and displaying it in one or more places guaranteeing the regular vision of your goal is very important.
This is because seeing this goal helps you to constantly focus your mind on what is most important to you.
Secondly, because by reading your goal all the time, you increase your commitment towards your goal, especially since this goal is also visible to other people around you.
Finally, having your goal in mind constantly increases your chances of reaching it because you become more honest with yourself about the actions you take and the results you get.
In summarizing, writing down your goals gives you, from the start, huge chances of success if you act coherently to achieve your goals.
Your goal is often only the beginning of a larger project
The goal you have set for yourself is very often only the beginning of a much larger personal or professional project.
Understanding this is essential not only to achieve your goal but also to situate it as part of a broader vision of your accomplishment.
Very often people describe the benefits of their results in purely rational terms.
But what we perceive and express at the rational level is often only the tip of the iceberg.
In order to concretize this aspect, the next time you describe or write the benefits of achieving your goals, divide these benefits into rational and emotional aspects.
The emotional benefits of an objective are related to deeper and more important motivations.
Just as an example, imagine that you set the goal of increasing your income by a certain percentage in a given period of time.
Once you have defined the rational benefits of your goal, you will be able to go deeper into the emotions, needs, and even the values you seek to fulfill through this goal.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
How will I feel when I reach my goal?
What will it change in my life?
What will I be able to do?
What emotions do I want to satisfy?
What important value will I be able to respect?
What will I think of me when I reach my goal?
Answering these questions will help you get to the bottom of your biggest motivations.
This way, you will be more motivated to reach your goal and you will be able to predict the next goal.
To summarize, understanding the emotional benefits of your goal, allows you:
- to strengthen your motivation for your goal
- to understand the next goal that is also part of your personal or professional project
Your values influence your well-being and the achievement of your goals
Your values represent what is most important to you in your life.
These values vary from person to person.
Your values influence the quality of your life and yet:
- few people take the time to define what their values are
- even fewer people live in coherence with their most important values
As a result of this, many people are not happy in their lives and do not achieve their goals.
To be really happy in your life and to achieve your goals, it is not enough to set a goal by respecting the smart model or other models.
To facilitate your personal and professional accomplishment, you first need to define your values and make sure to live in accordance with them.
For this, you can write a list of your values and then you can rank them in order of importance.
This list is only a basis for you to understand what is most important to you and to check if you are now living with your values.
This list may undergo several changes and sometimes you will not immediately be able to say which value precedes another.
But with time and sometimes with the changes in your life, you will change your list of values to establish a definitive list.
Knowing your values is only the beginning. Now you have the responsibility to try to live in harmony with them.
Above all, evaluate your current situation and identify the main discrepancies.
Then, create an action plan to start gradually changing your situation.
Proceed in stages and mini objectives.
Do not pretend to want to change everything in a short period of time.
Be regular in your practice and you will be able to make the changes necessary to live according to your values.
If you decide to pursue a goal anyway while disagreeing with your values, you may even achieve it in the short term, but in the long run your subconscious will create self-sabotage processes that will affect your results and your well-being.
Remember, your values and actions should be aligned as much as possible.
Otherwise, you will go straight to failure and dissatisfaction.
But values are not the only pitfalls in defining and achieving your goals.
Other difficulties come to you, discover them immediately.
The pitfalls in defining and pursuing a goal
Aside from values, other obstacles may appear on the way to your goal.
Among the most formidable ones, there are beliefs.
Beliefs are ideas that become truths and that as truths are no longer questioned.
What you believe influences your daily existence.
In some cases, to achieve your goal, you must learn to overcome a belief that limits you.
To do this you must first identify your beliefs and see if they limit you or not.
For this you can:
- ask people who know you well
- pay close attention to what you say and what you do
Once the belief is identified, try to understand if it is negative for you, if in some way it limits you.
If it is a limiting belief, try to understand the ideas and experiences of your life that participated in its creation.
Then, create an alternative vision of this idea, a vision that improves the quality of your life.
Finally, begin to take actions that go against your limiting belief in order to bring out a new belief.
Your feedback will help you understand that a limiting belief is only an invention of your mind.
You can now begin to create new beliefs that allow you to fully enjoy your life and realize your most important projects.
Aside from values and beliefs, other pitfalls can affect your success and your well-being.
Among these other pitfalls, there are false goals that can take different forms.
The fear of failure
A person may decide to set a false goal because he is afraid of experiencing failure if he pursues his true goal.
The difficulty to assert oneself
A person may decide to pursue a goal that is not his own to please someone.
Pursue the goal of another person
Some people are easily influenced by others and instead of pursuing an important goal for them, they focus on one goal to meet the expectations of others.
To achieve his goals, each person must choose a goal that concerns him.
You must be aware that you are responsible for your professional and personal development.
If you understand that your goal is not about you directly but about the actions of others, you have not set a real goal and you need to be more engaged to become the player in your goal.
If your goal really concerns you, you will be at the center of actions that will change your life.
It is important not to fall into the trap of setting goals that concern other people.
If you fall into this trap, you will have an illusion of change but you will just lose your time because the others will not act in your place.
Pursue a goal that does not depend on you
Achieving your goal should depend on the implementation of your actions. If the achievement of your goal depends on the actions you are not initiating, then you will not succeed. The control you have can sometimes be partial because other people can be co-responsible for the goal.
In this case, establish mutually beneficial strategic alliances to strengthen the control you have.
In any case, prepare a list of 10 actions that depend exclusively on you and that can really allow you to regain control of your goal. This can enable everyone to reach their goal.
Final conclusion on how to set goals, reach goals and be happy
If the smart model remains an excellent tool in the definition and the pursuit of your objectives, it is also true that your well-being and your success require integrating to your objective a deep knowledge:
- of your life project whose goal is only a small part
- of your most important values
- of your strongest beliefs
- of your current situation in terms of skills and resources
Now that this article is finished, I would like to know your opinion.
What do you think about this article and especially how will you implement these tips in your life?