Thursday, 10 November 2011

Life Circle: SMART goals and Week 5

Life CircleHello and welcome back to Life Circle, which is back after an extended break. Apologies if you came looking for this last week - it was just a post too far so I decided to postpone it until this week. This, of course, has given you another week to get reviewing those goals.

Looking at my goals from Week 3, they're pretty good - I tried not to be, but the SMART criteria are stuck in my head now so I find it difficult not to do it. They're specific, as they stipulate exactly what I want to do. They're specific enough to be measurable so that I will know when I've got there. As for achievable, I think so - perhaps I'm not totally sure and the losing weight one is not really going anywhere fast, which will probably make it a prime contender for next week's task, which I'm going to set below. They are all realistic - none of this "I'm going to win the lottery tomorrow" business and I feel they are relevant to my life and the way I want it to go. And they are all timebound because I have given myself deadlines to achieve them. Even if I don't make those deadlines, they'll be nagging at me so I have a better chance of getting them done.

Reviewing your goals regularly is extremely useful. Situations change and a goal may no longer be relevant, or needs a minor tweak. Keep the SMART criteria in mind when you're reviewing its suitability and it can't go far wrong. Clear goals that fit these criteria are easier to commit to because they are as real as you can make them without actually achieving them. Read them regularly and try to picture achieving them and how good that feels, especially when you need motivation to get moving in whatever way.

Don't worry if you have a long list of goals but do review them with the SMART criteria and consider grouping several smaller ones down into one big one, and the smaller goals can then become part of your to do list that all contribute to achieving that one thing. A clear picture of the desired end result will help you get started and the smaller tasks done.

Moving on now, I'm going to set the task for week 5. We're going to use a model called TGROW that is used in coaching to pick up apart an issue. It can be any - my suggestion, although you don't have to take it, would be a goal that you feel you're not progressing with or feel less committed about than others. If not, take a more general issue that you feel is the most important issue affecting your life that is holding you back and one that would give you most benefit if you were to resolve or at least take action on it.

Let's go through what TGROW means and what you need to ask yourself. It might help to scribble notes d1own under each heading when you start. Although the model is presented in a sequential linear fashion, it can be circular because if something comes up that might affect your earlier thoughts, it's OK to go back and reconsider. I don't want you to force your thoughts into an unnatural way of thinking - nothing is set in stone f you think of something else later on.

T stands for Topic or Theme. In other words, what you want to deal with. Think carefully and scribble a few notes why it's so important to you to work on this at this point. What is it that is bothering you? What about it do you want to address? What issues lie behind this? What does this particular topic mean to you?

Next, move on and set a Goal for this topic. If you're considering a goal here, I don't mean that particular goal - I mean, set out what you want to achieve by taking this through this process. What do you want to happen as a result? How will you know if you've achieved it? You can look in both a wider sense - of how the topic or theme you have picked out fits into your overall goals - or you can just look at what you want to get out of this exercise.

Then, we get down to basics. We look at the Reality of your current situation in the context of this topic and goal. Where are you in relation to achieving your goal? If it's a more specific issue, what is causing the problem and how does it manifest itself? What progress have you made recently? How do your current skills and knowledge fit in with this? What, if anything, is holding you back from progressing towards your goal or resolving your issues? Why, indeed, do you need to set this goal in the first place? This is the meatiest part of the whole process and requires you to be completely honest with yourself. Working with a life coach would mean you would find this quite challenging as they would ask a lot of questions. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself here, although you might find that this is quite an emotional part of the process if the issue is very personal. As always, when it comes to writing your post, only share with your readers what you want to share but remember that you can always email me if you wish to work through you feel uncomfortable sharing on your blog.

Even if you do find this difficult, the next stage should help. I want you now to consider your Options. Think of as many ways as you can to move forward. Don't just think of one idea. Consider all the options. Ask yourself what you would do if anything was possible. What has worked before? What do others do in the same situation (if relevant) and how successful are they? Once you've come up with as many options as you can, consider their relative pros and cons. Which option seems the best? Which one are you most committed to? Considering your commitment to each option is probably the most effective way of picking out what you are going to do to move forward. Do this by scoring yourself out of 10 if you like. Putting a numerical value, a bit like in the Wheel of Life, does make you think really hard which option you like the best.

As we select this option, we seamlessly move into the final stage, which is known as Will or Wrap-up. Wrap-up sounds a bit final but the point of this stag is to summarise what this process has taught you and what you are going to do next. The Will part is important - what WILL you do to move forward? What actions will you take next to move towards your longer term goal? If it's not a goal you've chosen to work on, what actions will you take to start resolving this issue? Consider briefly also what might prevent you from moving forward, which should help to determine your commitment to the action. Out of this stage, you need to be coming up with 1 or 2 specific actions to take away and start working on NOW. They should start to move your forward to achieve your goal on time or resolve any issue that you have that might be holding you back. Remember the SMART criteria - be specific about what you do, make it measurable, achievable, relevant and realistic, and most importantly, time-bound. In coaching, you might be seeing a coach once a week or once a fortnight and they would expect that these actions would be completed in the time between sessions and you would return to the next session to report how you had got on with those actions and whilst they might not be 100% completed, progress on all of them of some sort would be expected.

Over to you now. Don't spend too long agonising over this. A life coaching session is typically 45 minutes to 1 hour (which would include a recap of previous actions in later sessions) so you shouldn't need to spend any longer than this working it through. Then blog your results as much as you want to share, add the badge, and come back and link to my next post in a week's time.

If you're new to Life Circle, click on the tab above to learn more about it and see the previous tasks. If you want to join in, then please do. Either start at the beginning (although you'll have to link up by leaving a comment for now) or just work on this task only. You'll get the most out of it if you take it from the beginning, but feel free to do what makes you feel most comfortable.

I look forward to reading what you've come up with for this week and wish you luck with the new task.

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