Friday, 19 July 2013 11:30

Get Back in Control with SMART Goals

Maxwell SMART Agent 86 from the GET SMART television series and movie has a lot to teach us about aligning our values with our intentions and goals.  His character is crystal clear about his values and priorities. He is on a mission as an agent of CONTROL battling the forces of KAOS and always emerges triumphant at the end of the day – even though his GOALS for success are often fraught with obstacles.BullseyeSmall 300x300 Get Back in Control with SMART Goals

Just as Agent 86 had his heart and mind focused on a specific intention, it is equally crucial that you motivate both your mind (what you think you should do) and your heart (what you value). It is difficult to examine your values, beliefs, and true purpose without a trusted partner such as a coach. Once you have explored with your coach what is really important to you in your life (career, family, community, your values and purpose), it should become clear what you need to do. Setting  goals then becomes a natural extension of your values.

Goals are very exciting and energizing. They drive us to achieve beyond our expectations. They make it easier for us to focus and concentrate, and give us permission to say “no” to distractions. Then dreams really do come true. But unless you spend time to explore, plan and prioritise, setting the wrong goals can lead to disappointment and disillusion. This saps your energy and motivation.

3 is a Magic Number

 If you have prioritised 3 areas or values in your life, you are ready to set your goals. Three is an ideal number, as more than that can disperse your focus and concentration. You should be prepared to spend time, money and energy on achieving these goals. Remember, goal setting is not for sissies! It requires sacrifice. You have to really want to achieve them and be willing to say “no” to distractions.  

If you find yourself resisting the process of committing to specific goals, then it’s highly likely you have an underlying fear of failure – or of success.  A coach can help you work through this obstacle.

“Out deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

 Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Marianne Williamson

Once your priorities are clear, saying “no” to activities which distract you, become far more important than saying “yes” to the myriad of distractions we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Clear priorities also make it more difficult for the “procrastinator” in you to take hold and sabotage your potential to succeed to the level you’re really capable of.

At this point you’re ready to cast those ideas into the form of a SMART goal. A SMART goal is:





T—time framed

1. Be Specific

Be specific when you write down a goal. Narrow your focus. “Getting fit” is not a goal, but an outcome. “Exercising regularly” is not specific enough. Write down things like, “I am so happy and grateful that I feel energized, fit and vibrant as I ride my bike for 40 minutes four times a week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday).” Notice 3 things about how this goal is described that make it specific:  

  1.     It is stated in the present tense, as though you are already in possession of the goal.
  2.     It brings the goal to life by tapping into the positive senses of what it is like to be experiencing the goal.
  3.     It reinforces the feeling of gratitude which is an attitude known to greatly enhance the speed at which we attain and maintain goal- achievement

Don’t try to be all inclusive. Focus on making progress on two or three goals before expanding them. The more you can refine and define, the more specific you are, the easier it is to stay focused. Don’t forget to ask for the help of your coach. Your coach can send you email reminders and hold you accountable.

2. Be Measurable

Write down your goals and their measures. You will need to track the minutes, the days or the number of times you engage in your goal behavior. If you don’t complete the originally defined time or measure, write down and acknowledge what you did complete. This will track your efforts and help sustain and encourage you when you lack energy or motivation.

3. Be Action-Oriented

Make sure the goal you write down is action-oriented. Simply, this means that your goals need to contain a verb, or action-oriented statement. For example, “I ride my bike X times per week… I save “x” $$$ per month… I attract x new clients per month

4. Be Realistic

Select goals that are realistic and motivational. If you know that 40 minutes on the bike or treadmill will exhaust you, or create stress because of the time involved in showering, changing, or other inconveniences, then change the goal to something easier and more attainable and pleasurable – like running with a friend. Make sure your goal is something you like to do. When you create pleasurable memories while you are engaged in the activity, then you increase your chances of doing it more often.

Some people find it useful to reward themselves after goal activity, as long as the reward doesn’t sabotage your goals.

“No pain, no gain” is also true in many areas of goal setting. However, if there is too much pain, you will not gain your goal. Make sure you are willing to pay the price of achieving your goal. By the same token, you need to evaluate and review your goals so that they are not too easy. If you are well on your way to achieving your goals, then you may have set them too low. Try stretching them 10 or 20 percent. If you are not on track, give yourself permission to reduce your measures by 10 percent.

Review your goals regularly and look at issues of alignment with your values. If you are not achieving your goals, you may have picked the wrong goals. People usually do what they want to do, and if you are choosing not to follow your goals, there is a reason that needs to be further examined.

5. Be Time-Framed

Your goals need to be time-framed. There needs to be a beginning and an end. This would look something like: Have a fifteen percent increase in sales by the end of the year by increasing the quantity of pre-qualified client leads by “x”.   This should be tracked at regular intervals.

As you track your progress, ask for someone to hold you accountable. Research shows that it is easier to stay on track when you have support and reminders.  Executive coaches are trained and have expertise in this area. Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone.

Reframe Failure as Feedback

The secret to dealing with incomplete goals is to reframe “failure” as “feedback”.

There are no failures. With the help of your coach, you can review without judgement and analyse where you have fallen short of your goals. This is where the real learning about yourself or your business takes place. The self-awareness that can be gained when you set a goal that you do not achieve is worth the price of admission.

But if falling short of a goal is a particularly negative experience for you, it can be difficult to see past the negativity and appreciate the real prize – which is the lessons to be learned from the experience. This is where a good coach can be an important part of helping you repair your bruised self-esteem and re-frame the experience of “failure” into a precious and vital opportunity to grow and improve.  With a coach, reviewing the reasons for incompletion tells us something about our true values, competing commitments, real priorities and gives us invaluable information about what really matters to us.

If  self-sabotage is the culprit behind a failed goal, therein is an opportunity to revise some of your “old tapes” or outdated assumptions and beliefs that are limiting the full expression of your capabilities and gifts. But rather than giving in to them, use your coach to explore them and to revise them into empowering beliefs.

Choosing and planning your goals is hard work. It takes time and commitment. The rewards, however, are great. By aligning your head with your heart you will set meaningful, attainable goals that will help you make progress toward what you truly value in your life. In the words of Earl Nightingale, the greater success lies not in the achievement of the goal itself, but rather…

“Success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal”

 D Worrall (2010)


Cairo, J. (1998). Motivation and Goals: How to Set and Achieve Goals and Inspire Others. Career Press.

Mollicone-Long, G. (2007) The Secret of Successful Failing, Pathfinders Publishing.

Proctor, B. (2007) The Goal Achiever. Life Success Publishing.

Tracy, B. (2003). Goals! How to Get Everything You Want —Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. Berrett-Koehler.

Worrall, D. (2009) A Climate for Change, Life Success Publishing.

Further Resources:

For more on goal setting, values and SMART goals see A Climate for Change (2009), D Worrall at

For further information on Executive Coaching and Business Consulting for Leaders of Change, contact Di at Worrall Assoc. on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Last modified on Friday, 19 July 2013 11:36

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