The Big Idea
Goals do not have to be pass/fail. Allow for flexibility.
Questions I Answer
- How do I set achievable goals?
- Is there an exercise to help me figure out my goals?
- What are SMART goals?
- How can I make time for my goals?
Key Topics in the Show
The 2nd step in our 3 step process in creating a custom goal achievement map
How to bank time to make your goals a priority
Marshall Goldsmith’s $250,000 secret
The two most important questions to ask yourself
What are SMART goals
Resources and Links
- Get the goal setting planner from inkWELL Press
Hello, hello everyone. Welcome to productivity paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode two. Part two of the anatomy of goal-setting. Today, we are going to be focusing on setting our goals. During episode one, we talked about our why, and we focused on reflection and looking back. We talked about why New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and we did an exercise to help you reflect and review over the last 12 months.
Now, why did we have you do that? The key really is to look backwards so you can move forwards, which I know makes almost no sense when I say it out loud, but it’s true. You really need to know where you’re coming from, and we’re going to be able to look at those reflections and start projecting them forward to help us understand where we want our focus to be. We’re going to look for the gaps in our reflection, we’re going to look for the things that we really want to improve upon, and that’s going to help us figure out where we want our goals to take us. Really, that is what’s most important, is when you are setting these goals, and that’s what we’re talking about today, is setting our goals, we want to make sure that they are customized and personalized for you.
Let’s take a step back, just for a second, and talk about how you go from that reflection process into the process of actually setting the goals. I go through the exercises every year, and I’ll be happy to share with you about how this worked for me last year. I’m going to be totally honest with you and share with you some of the not so pretty parts of myself, but I think this will help you to understand how I do my own goal-setting. In looking at my reflection sheet from the previous year, question six asked, “What experience would you not want to do again?”
That was a tough question for me, I’m going to be honest. Not tough because I didn’t know what to answer, it was tough because I didn’t like my answer. You might have had some answers from last week that you didn’t like. Really, when I talked last
with about it was so important to be honest, this is why. When I looked at that question and I thought about what experience I wouldn’t want to do again, I thought immediately of my fall. I had a big fall launch with some products, and I worked, and I worked and I worked. I worked seven days a week for three months. I worked 14 to 16 hour days, which means that my kids came home to an empty house, or they would come home to the studio, which isn’t their home.
They would do their homework there, they would eat dinner there, we would go to the studio on the weekends, we went to the studio on holidays, and I had so much work to do, I just worked and worked. When I reflected back on that, I realized just how awful I felt about that. To me, my number one role in life right now is being a mom. I had a really hard mom moment for myself when I had to fill out that question, because I knew I was not setting my kids up as my priority. That became
part of my goals. I knew that was a part that I didn’t like in my previous 12 months, so I decided I needed to prioritize my family, and that I would leave work at three o’clock three days out of five. I’m going to talk to you in a few minutes about exact wording of how I set my goals, but for now I’m just going to leave it at that. I decided I was going to start leaving work because I knew I was not prioritizing my family the way that I really wanted to.
Let’s look at another question that was tough to answer. Question 15 where I had to rate my self image. When I did that, I found that I wasn’t really happy with the rating I was giving myself. I wasn’t comfortable with how I looked, I knew I needed to exercise, I needed to firm up, I wasn’t happy with how my clothes were fitting, I felt tired and unhappy. I knew I was using my back as an excuse, because I have, I like to call it my 90 year old back because I have so many back issues. I can use that as my excuse for not working out a lot of days. I knew that I was so unhappy with my rating that I needed to change my way of thinking and I needed to make exercise a priority. I needed to find ways that I could work out without limiting my back issues. I challenged myself to make that my focus.
Again, I’m going to share with you my exact goals here in just a minute, but that just gives you a little bit of a background to know how I took my reflection, and I turned that into what I really wanted to focus on in moving forward. Those reflections were not easy. They did not make me happy at all, they made me very sad, but to be honest with you, where I am today, I’m in a much better place because I know I have changed things around because of that reflection process.
I think one of the important things for you to remember is don’t get caught up in everyone else’s goals, because your goals need to be customized for you. Because you are unique, and you have your own set of things that you are good at, and things you need to work on, so you need to really figure out what it is that’s important to
you and set your goals for you. Now, there are lots of popular goals that I can give you as a jumping off point, and I’m happy to do that, because I feel like when you’re setting goals, or really doing anything, it’s hard to just look at a blank page, because that can feel overwhelming. I like to say that overwhelmed is not having too much to do, it’s not really knowing where to start.
I’m going to give you some very general goals, but know that we’re really going to go in-depth, and you’re going to start customizing these for yourself. Here’s 10 of the most popular goals that I could find when I was doing my research. Taking on more responsibility. Getting promoted. Finding work-life balance, and we already talked about how I felt about work-life balance, but some version of that. Getting a raise, learning a new skill, being more organized, gaining a qualification, losing
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weight, improving your health, working on finances. These are great places to start, they’re just really too general.
I’ll have these listed in my show notes if you do want to use these as a jumping-off point, so I’ll have these listed at inkwellpress.com/podcast under episode two, and I’ll have all the notes of what I’m going through right now, in those show notes to make it a little bit easier for you. Because I know, for most of you, you’re doing something else right now, and you’re not taking notes, don’t worry, I’ve taken that worry out of your hands.
As I said, those are a great place to start, but they’re just too general, and they’re not smart goals. Now, by smart goals, I don’t mean they’re clever or intelligent, I mean that they are SMART in that they are specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed. Many of you have probably heard of SMART goals before, so what I’m going to do, is I’m going to go through each one of those letters and give you a little bit more information about them, to help you really hone in on your goal setting.
Each letter of SMART stands for a letter. S is specific. We want to make sure you’re not being too general, and you’re really focusing in on a certain area. You can start with a general goal, and then dig in to find what specifically you want to get out of this goal. Again, it’s really about customizing and personalizing your goals so they fit for you. A great example is you might want to say, “I want to get my home more organized.” A more specific way to say that is, “I will organization my home, starting with my kitchen, then I’ll focus on my bedroom organization, and then my living areas.”
See? We got rid of a little bit of that overwhelm. Maybe it was more specific and laser-focused in, it becomes a little bit more achievable in our brains because it doesn’t seem so big and daunting. Being specific is a really important part. That’s our first letter.
Measurable is our second one. Keep in mind that measurable kind of piggy backs off that word, “Specific,” but it doesn’t have to be tied to a number. I feel like a lot of times when I read things about SMART goals, people really feel like it needs to have some sort of number as your measuring stick. This is what I love about daily habit trackers and why I put them in my planner, because I know that measuring your goals each day works because you can really see, and you can hold yourself accountable, for if you’re moving a little bit closer to your goals each and every day. Here’s an example of a measurable goal that does not involve a number.
Instead of saying, “I want to do better at work,” you could say, “I will design a brochure, by learning a new software program.” What’s your measurement? The measurement is actually making the brochure. Every day getting a little closer to getting that brochure finished is a way to measure. It doesn’t have to be a number. It doesn’t have to be that you have to work on the software program for a certain number of hours or anything like that. Keep that in mind with measurable.
Then, we have attainable. What’s important is that your goals are realistic, but they are also flexible. Goals do not have to be pass-fail. This is not a pass-fail class in college, okay? You need to allow for a little bit of grace for yourself because there are weeks where we are going to kill it with these goals. There are weeks where we are not, and that’s okay. Because, every day is different. There are weeks that are really hard. There are seasons in our life that are a little more difficult, so if we allow for a little more grace, we’re not going to have that feeling of failure.
Because a lot of times when we feel like we failed with our goals, we just quit, and we don’t want to quit. We want to push through. The way to make sure that you’re being realistic and flexible is using an average. I’m going to do a certain thing for a certain average, number of days. Or, using the MTO method, which stands for Minimum, Target, and Outrageous goal. That means that all of them are accepted by you, but allows you to be flexible. Let me explain what that means, because it’s a little bit confusing.
Let’s say, your example is, I want to save money. If you want to set yourself an MTO goal, you could say, “I will save a minimum of 10 dollars a month, ideally, I will save 25 dollars a month. I will be really excited in months where I am able to save 50 dollars.” At a minimum, if you save 10 dollars, you’ve met that goal. But really, you’re shooting for 25, and 50 is your stretch goal. It is nice to have a stretch goal, because it can push you on those months where things are going pretty well, to push you a little bit further. You could also do this using averages, and that’s what I was mentioning before.
If I was using an average on this, I would say, “I will save an average of 25 dollars each month.” That allows for some months, maybe you save more, and other months, you save a little bit less. Make if flexible so it’s not that you pass or you fail, it’s really about setting goals so that you can feel like you are moving forward. You don’t want to feel defeated, okay?
Now, the fourth letter, we’re on the fourth letter now, is rewarding. This hearkens back to our why, and this is why we do the reflection sheet, because we want to make sure that your goals are rewarding to you. Not rewarding to your boss, not rewarding to your spouse or your roommate, we want you to set goals that are
going to make you feel good when you accomplish them. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” you could say, “I will have a healthier lifestyle by committing to work out an average of three times a week.” That’s rewarding to you because you’re living a healthier lifestyle. It’s not necessarily about losing weight, or what somebody else wants you to do, it’s really about you and how you want to live. Make sure that your goals are rewarding.
Then our last thing is that we want to make sure that they are timed. It’s important to set a deadline because otherwise, it becomes really difficult to stop, take a deep breath, and take a look back at your progress. If your goal is ongoing, sometimes you don’t really see that program. Because we see ourselves every day, these little tiny incremental changes that happen to us as we’re moving towards our goals can be missed. If you set a deadline for yourself where you’re going to stop and give yourself a quick little assessment, you really can see that progress that you’ve made, and it really can make a huge difference.
It’s always nice to have a set date where you’re going to stop, and look at your progress and celebrate because celebrating those goals is really important. It helps you to hit your timeline because you’ll have a deadline in place, and that will help hold you a little bit more accountable because you have a certain date you want to get it done. We don’t want to treat this like it’s a history test in college where we’re cramming the night before, right?
it allows you to set a timeline for yourself so that when you get to that deadline, you can stop and take a look, celebrate, and feel really good about your progress. Going back and revisiting one of those examples we gave from earlier about, let’s say, the learning a new software program. You would say, “I will learn a new software program, and use it to create a brochure by March 15,” or, August 27th, or whatever date you want to put in there, or six months from now, but make sure you have a timed date in there so that you know when you’re going to stop and check yourself.
You’ll notice when I’m listing all these examples for these goals, I’m always using positive statements. I’m beginning with, “I will.” I will do this, I will do that. I don’t say, “I want to,” because part of it is setting it as a positive affirmation. This is going to happen. I will do this. Not, “Oh, I hope it’s going to happen.” Say it positively, with the affirmation that this is actually going to happen. You’re not going to say, “I want to stop smoking,” you could say, “I will make a healthy choice by quitting smoking in two months,” or whatever your goal is.
You always want to make sure it is correlating with your priorities. Making sure it fits in with that reflection that we did before. Where those gaps are and where you
really want to see improvement, that’s where your goals are going to come and fill in. You want it to be precise, and you can use that MTO method that we talked about or the flex method where you talk about an average, but the key is truly that goal should motivate you, and this is why it’s really important to know the why behind your goal.
I think it should be written down next to your goal, because, of course, you knew I was going to say this, goals need to be written down, right? I cannot stress that enough. When you’re writing down these goals, I want you to write down the
why, because there are going to be hard days. There are going to be days when maybe you feel like quitting, your maybe you just think, “I’m not going to be able to do this,” but if you look back and remember that why, it’s going to remind you, “This is why I’m doing this,” and it will encourage you, and it will push you forward. On those days where I feel like I can’t leave work early because I have too much to do, I remind myself I’m doing it because I’m setting my family as a priority and that allows me to say, “No, I’m leaving work right now.”
Let’s go back, actually, to those goals that I talked about earlier, where I talked about leaving work early. I’m going to tell you how I worded my goals. That first goal, I said, “I will leave work at 3 PM, an average of three times a week, throughout the school year.” I gave myself a time deadline because I wanted to stop myself at the end of the school year and take a look to see how it’s going, but I also knew that there were going to be weeks where I couldn’t leave early because I had launches and things like that, and there were going to be other weeks where I could leave every day at 3 o’clock, so I gave myself an average.
For working out, I said, “I will work out four times a week. I will be happy if I at least work out two times a week, and I will celebrate with an extra reward on the weeks that I work out five days a week.” My minimum was two days, my target was four days, and if I get to five days, I am happy, happy, happy.
Okay. One of the questions I know many of you are going to ask me is how many goals should you be setting? I’m going to go ahead and tell you right now, there is no magic number. There’s no easy answer to that. It really all depends on
how big your goals are. How much time and energy you have to dedicate to those goals, because you may have two really big goals, or six smaller goals. There really is no special number. It’s really all about making in the manageable. Don’t be tempted to set goals in every single aspect of your life, that’s actually a little bit counterproductive. Keeping in mind that harmony we talked about back in episode one.
The point of goals is to really help you laser-focus in certain areas of your life. Do keep in mind that some of your really big goals may have smaller goals within them, so let’s be careful not to overwhelm ourselves. It’s better to start with one goal and be successful with that, and then the next time, you can set two goals. Don’t feel like you’re failing if you’re only setting one goal. It’s absolutely okay. Do what works best for you. That is the key with all of this, is it’s really all about you and customized and personalized for you.
You are not anybody else, so don’t let common goals box you in. You are different, and you are unique. Let’s set goals that fit you, in your life. This is going to be your year that you set goals and you achieve it, and you are going to feel really good.
Here’s what I want you to do. I want you have some goals written down before you listen to episode three, and if you need to, go back to the show notes, inkwellpress.com/podcast, click on episode two, and you’ll be able to access all of the show notes, so you can see what the SMART goals stand for and all those … I think I gave you the top 10 goals that a lot of people set. You can use those as your jumping off point, that will give you a place to start.
I encourage you to look over your reflection sheet, make notes about what you learned about yourself, doesn’t have to be a novel, just a couple notes. Look for some patterns and see where it is that you really want to fill in, and use those notes to create your SMART goals. After your write them down, make sure that they are all SMART goals, and we’ll have those ready for episode three where we will be creating our how. It’ll be our time to do our action plan.
It’s not enough just to write our goals down. We’re going to be creating a plan together, and I have a quick and easy download that’s going to make it really really easy for you, and we’re going to work together to make sure this is your year that you get these goals accomplished.
All right, that’s it for episode two. Now, I’d love to see … I know last time I said you didn’t have to worry about posting pictures of your reflection sheets, but your goal-setting sheets, I would love to see, so feel free to take a picture and post it on social media. You can tag me, @inkwellpress, or you can use the hashtag, #productivityparadox, and I’ll be looking on their so I can see how you’re doing with your goal-setting. I’d love to see that you are writing your goals down, and you’re keeping them SMART. Feel free to connect with me, I’d love to hear from you.
You can find me on inkwellpress.com, or of course on social media where I’m very active on Instagram and Facebook, and Twitter, with the username,
All right, episode three will be coming your way very soon, and we will be talking about creating an action plan together. I really look forward to it. All right, until next time, happy planning.
**This transcript is created by AI, so please excuse any typos, misspellings and grammar mistakes.
Tanya Dalton is one of the best female keynote speakers on the subject of productivity and time management.