We all have different goals at different stages of our lives.
Whether your goals are family, financial, health, spiritual or career related (or whatever your frames are), they are important if you want to achieve success in a measurable way. Without goals, how do you know if you’re heading in the right direction?
I love the simplicity of leadership expert Michael Hyatt’s approach to goals. Many of you would have heard of the SMART model of goal setting. A SMART goal must be Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Hyatt’s SMARTER framework expands this by stating the best goals must be:
Specific, so we know where to focus and direct our energy.
Measurable, so we can keep track of our progress.
Actionable with clear verbs that prompt specific activity.
Risky enough to leverage our tendency to rise to challenges.
Time-keyed, so we’re prompted to act at the right time.
Exciting to inspire and harness the power of intrinsic motivation.
Relevant within the context of our life.
I like the SMARTER framework, as it is a simple and effective way of setting and achieving goals. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” This model does that for me.
I’m sure you’ve had the experience of setting a goal and not achieving it. I personally have experienced this many times. I usually have lots of great and colourful reasons why the goal didn’t happen – great excuses that rival “the dog ate my homework”, but the fact is, it didn’t.
Adhering to the criteria of Hyatt’s SMARTER framework is a brilliant start, but challenges can still derail us as we strive towards our goals.
I believe our ability to achieve any goal relies on three key elements: Routine, Rigour and Resilience.
But what do these elements mean?
Routine is a sequence of actions we regularly follow. What behaviours and actions do we engage in to ensure our success?
Rigour means being extremely thorough and careful. How prepared and meticulous are we when we set and work towards our goal?
Resilience is our capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. How elastic are we in terms of who we are and how we think so we can regroup and move onward?
These three elements work together to create a supportive framework that allows us to succeed.
How does this happen?
Firstly, as Verne Harnish says in his book, Scaling Up, routines set us free. We often think of routine as being boring or mundane, but that’s not what it’s about. The idea behind having a routine is to create simplicity enabling effectiveness; essentially, streamlining the way we repeatably achieve within our goal process.
Secondly, rigour is about making sure we continually direct our energy and actions to our purpose through a consistent process. This involves evaluating our progress on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis, depending on the timeframe required to reach our goal. It’s about ensuring we add the required depth to our routines, commensurate with our desire to achieve the goals.
Thirdly, resilience, in my language, is the ability to pick ourselves up when we fall.
As Alfred says to Batman in Batman Begins, “Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” If it’s good enough for Batman, it’s a good lesson for me, too.
Things don’t always go the way we want them to – what’s important is how quickly we recover and move onward, how quickly we are able to learn from the event.
For me, the most critical elements enabling learning to occur in any situation is being able to assess (the situation), align (the content and context) and then apply (the learnings). I know myself that unless I go through these three stages, I don’t “learn” the lesson that is available. I simply move on and I am at risk of repeating the event.
So, what happens if these three elements aren’t working together or well? Unfortunately, our goal remains an unrealised dream.
Goals without Routine, Rigour and Resilience = Hope/Dream
And what if we have routine, rigour and resilience, but no clear goal? Our actions become futile; we have no direction or purpose.
Routine, Rigour and Resilience without goals = Pointless/Futile
But when we understand how these three elements interact, we can sustain our efforts. We can put in place a process that helps us achieve success, and we have the discipline to follow this process daily. And when things go haywire, we have the strength to keep going.
Goals with Routine, Rigour and Resilience = Success
One of my goals this year was to play golf once a fortnight. I haven’t got there. Why?
I have to be honest, I haven’t got right the routine in place to allow me to play. I don’t challenge my calendar with enough rigour to allow this time to eventuate. When I miss the time windows allowed, I don’t “bounce back” and reschedule.
I will never get better at golf unless I play more often. I will never play golf unless I manage my Routine, my Rigour and my Resilience.
While this example may be aimed at me, how does this apply to you? Where are you on your review cycle of your goals (if you have some – if not, get after them!).
We are part-way through the year and at the beginning of a new quarter, so now is a great time to do this work.
- Here are some questions to ask yourself, because we need to review our goals and our performance to see how things are travelling:
- How do your goals fit within this framework of Routine, Rigour and Resilience?
- Are you applying these three Rs?
- What Routines do you have in place?
- What kind of Rigour do you demonstrate to ensure you maintain your efforts?
- How Resilient are you?
If things aren’t going the way you’d like, are you getting back up again or are you lying down and letting things get on top of you?
So, as you enter the second quarter of this year, ask yourself: are you giving yourself the best chance of success? I’d love to hear how you are progressing towards your goal.
Be kind, be well, be true, be you.