Setting Smarter Goals

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Most goal setting guides will tell you to set SMART goals. SMART goals are an acronym for those that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. All of those are important aspects of setting a goal but they are missing a key ingredient. I’ll show you how to set smarter goals by including that key ingredient.

The key ingredient to smarter goals, much like Game Plan teaches us, is end game. Keeping the end game in mind is what drives us to work so hard to stick with our goals and see they are accomplished. It’s the burning why, the passion and desire that keeps you pushing past the milestones and actions you’ve set to achieve your goal over time. End game is the answer to why you want to work so hard for your goal.

Let’s take a look at some examples of what a difference end game can make when setting goals.

Say Sally sets a SMART goal to exercise four times a week from May through October and she’s going to mark on a chart what days she worked out each week to track her progress. Her goal has all the aspects of a SMART goal but what’s missing is why Sally truly wants to pursue this goal.

What does she actually want to have accomplished by the end of October when this goal will supposedly be achieved? Is it weight loss? Improving her health? Increasing vitality while reducing stress?

Depending on what her end game is will effect how she should approach those four workouts each week during those six months.

When we take a deeper look at Sally and her true desires we find out what she really wants is to run a marathon. We just discovered what her true end game is driving her towards working on week after week for months towards this goal. Now we can use Sally’s end game to set a smarter goal for her.

First we will need to set a training schedule for her that will allow her to complete a qualifying race in order to apply to run a marathon, so we will adjust/increase her timeline to account for that. Then we will also revise her goal so it’s not just exercising four times a week, we will change that to three runs a week, increasing in distance gradually over time to the length of a marathon, and make the fourth exercise each week cross training to help train her body in other ways and give her body a change from just running. We will also add milestones into her goal for completing her qualifying race and for applying to run the marathon, and any travel arrangements she needs to make to attend the marathon.

Now at the end of Sally’s goal she won’t have just exercised four times a week, she will have become a marathon runner! What a difference having that end game makes in shaping smarter goals.

When selecting an end game it’s helpful to envision a word or two you want to use to describe yourself by the end of your goal that is driving you towards wanting to set these goals and milestones. For Sally it was “marathon runner.” For you it maybe entrepreneur, career woman, father, yogi, gardener, or one of countless other descriptors.

That end game makes all the difference in effectively setting and shaping our goals. With an end game in mind you would no longer set a goal to simply go to French lessons twice a week for three months, you’d do that because at the end of the those three months of lessons you will take a two week trip to Paris and be able to be a French conversant. Those three months of study are building up to your big end game of being in Paris and being able to speak their language while you’re there. The actions and milestones are just stepping stones towards our big end game. The end game is the capstone and achievement¬†for all the hard work we put in to accomplish our goal.

Let’s take a look at another example. Don wants to become a professional photographer. He’s taken a class or two in photography and now wants to take it to the next level. First thing Don needs to realize is that there are going to be numerous milestones and actions to working towards his big end game of becoming a professional photographer. The first couple months of his goal might be around daily practice, honing his photography skills. Next might be lining up his first clients so he can build a portfolio of his work to show future potential clients. Next might be expanding his tools and equipment such as purchasing and learning how to use new lenses or light kits. Next might be getting his work in front of potential clients and marketing his new unique skills. Next might be officially establishing his photography business. Accomplishing his end game is going to be a series of mini goals and milestones helping push him ever closer towards achieving his big end game.

Whether you have your end game in mind like Don, and that just needs to be broken down into smaller milestones, or you’re like Sally and have set a SMART goal that needs to be made smarter through the use of a clear end game; either way having a clear end game will help you set the best action plans and milestones for accomplishing the true end game of your goals.

And of course don’t forget to celebrate when you achieve your big end game! You worked hard to get there. Celebrate your accomplishments!

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