More and more we receive enquiries from schools seeking to introduce their students to goal setting. In many ways, this is a great initiative as it is an excellent way to prepare students for life. Whether we regard them as “goals” or otherwise, there are many pursuits in life that benefit from a goal setting mindset: succeeding at sport, excelling in college, climbing the ladder at work, paying off a mortgage, raising children. Philosophically, one could argue that perhaps we let our children be children, but like most things there is a balance.
So what are the ways we can find that balance. Well, firstly, keep it simple. Secondly, think carefully about the S.M.A.R.T. methodology. This is something that kids can really benefit from as they are used to operating in a world of constraints and boundaries. Give them a clear goal and a clear benefit and they will thrive. Finally, give them hope. Focus on the goal being small enough and certainly “achievable”. For those families who give their children allowances or pocket money, encouragement of a financial goal could help their long term financial habits. Equally, a reward for a series of chores over a couple of months can easily be presented as a goal.
Ultimately though, this is about conveying the value of hard work. This is something that will never do a disservice to anyone. As the saying goes: Easy come, easy go. So too, do the fruits of hard work yield so much more than the initial reward. As parents, it is up to you how you prepare your children for the world ahead. But perhaps some small achievable goals will instil the values and mindset that can give them a sure footing for their first step.
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Goal setting and achieving can be a lonely, lengthy and tiresome duty. Often we fail along the way or we lose inspiration and abandon hope of ever reaching our target. Other times, we can simply keep extending the deadline and so it drags on and on slowly losing its lustre. This of course, comes with the territory. If goals were easy they wouldn’t be goals, so we must at all times find ways to motivate and inspire ourselves to keep on keeping on.
One proven method is to enlist moral support. Whether it’s your spouse, partner, friend, mentor, sibling or coach, a “supporter” is someone who can help keep you accountable throughout the journey. A supporter should be someone who knows your strengths and weaknesses. Someone who knows how to encourage and not discourage, is empathetic and finally, wants to see you succeed.
Your relationship should be an honest one. There is no point having a supporter if they can’t say to you “Gee Shane, you’ve been a little slack the last month. What can we do to turn it around?” But equally, if criticism is warranted then you want it to be constructive.
If you think your goal setting could benefit from a genuine supporter or two, then you also need to think about what commitment you want from them. Here are some things to consider:
- How often should they check in with you and your goals? e.g. weekly, monthly. Remember, you don’t want to place too big a burden on them?
- What are you looking for from them? e.g. Words of encouragement, analysis of performance, gentle reminders, discussion on overcoming stumbling blocks. Make sure you discuss this with your potential supporter so they are clear on your expectations before they commit.
- How long should they be expected to support you? e.g. a month, a year, for the duration of the goal itself. This is also important. Anyone can commit to a chat about something, but six months might be more than they can live up to.
- What’s in it for them? e.g. you’ll do something for them, payment or simply nothing because this is the kind of thing you do for each other. Again, be sure to be open about whatever the expectation is so your supporter knows exactly what the role is all about.
Finally, the good news is that Lifetick allows you to have supporters for your goals. All they need is a free Lifetick account and you can add them as a supporter. You can add as many as you like and it means they can check on the goal(s) you share with them and offer comments of support through the application itself.
So why wait? What are you struggling with right now? Think of who might be a great supporter for that goal and ask them. You never know what value they can provide. They too might need support in some areas in their own life!
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This is the second in our series on goal setting approaches. If you missed the first, it was called the “Brain Dump” approach and we encourage you to read it. This one however is the “S-M-L” approach or more verbosely – the “Small-Medium-Large” approach.
Quite simply, this approach encourages you to introduce into your mindset the idea of having three concurrent goals and no more. By limiting to just three, you will have more focus and perhaps this will help you achieve all of them. As you can probably imagine, the S-M-L approach requires you have a small goal, a medium goal and a large goal. These aren’t necessarily sizes in terms of magnitude or difficulty, but rather time. It is more ideal if the Small goal is less challenging, but the imperative is that its achievement should be soon! The reasons they should all be based on time are as follows:
- The Short goal allows you to be working on something that will deliver a result soon. This means you get into the habit of logging into Lifetick and completing tasks. It also keeps you motivated because the likelihood of achieving the goal is high and the time to achieve it is within say three months. The sooner you see results, the more likely you are to be motivated to continue on your goal setting journey! What’s more is that as soon as you have completed your Small goal, you can immediately enter a new Small goal. Momentum is a wonderful thing. Which leads me to point number two,
- The Medium goal allows you to pursue something more meaningful in your life. Something that might require careful planning or a sustained effort of saving money. Typically, the duration is 6-12 months. This is long enough to require some ongoing effort, but not too long that it seems entirely unachievable or too far into the future to worry about. Its companion, the Small goal, will keep you returning to Lifetick again and again and this will ensure the Medium goal gets equal visibility. Visibility means “front of mind” and front of mind means more likely to do something about that next task for your Medium goal. The more we think and see and do things about these goals, the more real they become. And the more palpable and possible and exciting they become. Sometimes it’s not so much about physical effort, but mind effort and “visualisation”. Keep your Medium goal always in mind.
- The Large goal is the big one. The one you are afraid to start because it is so daunting. The one you perhaps dare not tell anyone in case they laugh at you. The one you think that in some ways might define you one day. It is also the one that you have time to nurture and grow and refine. The one you contemplate by day and dream about by night. It is the one you must capture in Lifetick most and just as the Small helps the Medium, so too does the Medium help the Large. I could repeat all the points in #2 above and they would all count, but there is an even great significance for capturing and working towards your Large goal. By the time you have entered, re-entered, refined, re-tweaked, re-imagined, re-tasked and actually completed some preliminary tasks of your Large goal, you will have actually completed several Small goals and perhaps one or two Medium goals. What this has done for you is create an environment and mindset of doing, achieving and believing. You have already begun to realise that these things can be achieved and for many of us that is half the battle. Without even realising it, your celebrations of completing the Small and Medium goals has given you the necessary fuel to keep on keeping on with your large goal. Of course it is hard work and it requires ongoing hard decisions, but it is something that you will have the time to devote to its crafting because first and foremost it is based on time. And time is on your side.
And so we have our S-M-L approach. Maybe we sometimes have an S-S-M-L or just an S-M, but as long as we have a mindset of S-M-L then we improve our chances of achieving the big things that matter to us. The good news for you is that Lifetick is free when you manage four or less goals, so what’s stopping you?
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As mentioned in our recent post, we wanted to share with you a variety of approaches to setting your goals in Lifetick. What I’ve found is that there is never a perfect way and quite often I personally will oscillate between extremes. Nevertheless, I think this can be a positive because it means your mind is finding ways to make it work which is the priority! Alternatively, it can mean we are finding ways to procrastinate or avoid facing the task of actually completing the tasks themselves!
So without further ado, let’s begin with what is perhaps the most common approach which I affectionately refer to as the “Brain Dump” approach. It begins with what is a fury of excitement and activity. This of course is a highly favourable disposition and mode of operation. Why? Because it means people are throwing all those loose ideas and long held dreams and aspirations into Lifetick in a blaze of glory. The key to this is to see it through. The more you put in the more a picture will begin to form and the more you will understand just how big this can be. Initially, this will be extremely appealing and will lead you to understand all the things that are important to you. In your exuberance, it’s likely you will:
- Set quite a number of goals
- Set aggressive timeframes for achievement
- Put email reminders on all your tasks and
- Log in each day and refine and add tasks and journal notes
Now this is a great start, but there are some risks. Very few people can actually sustain motivation and activity in this way. Here’s where it gets troublesome:
- There are just too many goals to manage and it seems overwhelming
- In your earnestness to achieve, you are now getting a deluge of task reminders which then compounds if/when you miss due dates
- You realise achieving goals is hard and start to have doubts about it all
- You start to question which goals are actually important to you and finally
- Your initial excitement starts to wane.
However, being aware of potential pitfalls will help you transition into a more sustainable way of working diligently (at a pace that suits you) to achieve your goals. The initial exuberance can now be converted into something more aligned to you and your way of working. It’s ok to face our limitations. It’s only when this happens that we know where they are and what it will take to extend them. So, how do we make this transition? Here are some tips:
- Review all your goals. If you have some doubts or misgivings, maybe push the due dates out or convert some to Dreams. This will immediately take the pressure off.
- Focus on your timelines for your remaining goals. How aggressive were they? Can you perhaps extend their due dates to give you more time?
- Make sure your tasks are granular. This will make each task easier to tick off as complete and give you a small sense of achievement and progress. Never underestimate these small wins.
- Review your reminders. Not every task need a reminder. Think about when you want a reminder for each task. Some only need a reminder on the day, whereas others that take some effort might need a reminder a week before. Mixing up the reminders has the added benefit of creating diversity which ensures your brain doesn’t go into auto-pilot when receiving them. This means you are more likely to pay attention to the reminder because you have to think for an extra few seconds about when the task is due and what needs to happen before then.
- Add a note in your journal every time you log in. Sometimes when reviewing goals there are no actions to do, e.g. tasks to complete. Rather than feel you have logged in for nothing, add a short journal note every time you log in. This will 1) give you an action to do, 2) crystallise your thoughts because you are taking time to write them down and 3) build a great habit – journaling.
The most important thing about goals is they are not set and forget. They are likely to change and evolve and therefore, this should be embraced. The more time you spend thinking about them and working toward them, the more you will come to understand what is actually important to you. Sometimes, some things we thought were really important just aren’t. Likewise, other pursuits become even more important to us the more we think and work toward achieving them. I love the Brain Dump approach because it really clears the head and gets it all out there. But like everything in life, it is something that needs constant refining, revisiting and reimagining. So don’t lose heart if it isn’t perfect from day one. It’s not meant to be!
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