Welcome to Part 1 of our three-part Strategic Action Series on Motivation and Goal Setting. In this part, we will look at how to help make your goals more achievable by following the SMART steps system.

Getting Started

It’s all too easy to find motivation for a new project or goal. How many times have you heard ‘I’m starting a new business’… ‘I’m going to write a novel’ … ‘I’m training to run a marathon’, only to hear nothing more about it in the following weeks, months or years?  

 ‘What happened to your book?’ you might ask.  

 ‘Oh, nothing much. I ran out of steam’. Lost the motivation, really.’  

You might hear in return. This happens to the very best of us. The ideas phase is often the most creative phase of any project. It’s light, it’s easy, and it’s fun letting your mind imagine all the amazing things that could happen if only you could find the motivation to keep going through a project.  

But motivation and that initial dream setting stage of any plan tends to be fleeting. If you stay in the fun and enjoyable goal-setting phase, you don’t achieve the actual goal. And relying on motivation to get you there is a sure-fire way to be haunted by the pile of character notes you made and that are gathering dust by the side of your laptop, instead of celebrating publication day.  

However, the good news is that you don’t need to rely on motivation or willpower. The great news is that there is nothing wrong with you because you have given up on a load of projects in the past.   

In fact, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t. 

So, here in this first part, you will learn how to train yourself to move past ‘motivation’ and into ‘strategic action’. 

Goal set effectively. 

SMART model goal setting is still the gold standard, and I think for good reason. Let’s run down the components of the model.  

Specific – the more you get into the nitty-gritty of how that goal will look once it is achieved, the clearer it will be in your mind. ‘Running a marathon’ is a little loose, it could look like running 15 times around the park to make up 26 miles, or it could be winning the London marathon in a record time!  

‘Running the Boston Marathon for my favourite charity, with my loved ones there to support me running in a time of 4 hours and 30 minutes’ is an example of getting more specific than ‘running a marathon’.

Measurable – It’s easy to measure if you have achieved your goal of running a marathon – You set the distance in a race or on your fitness watch (or a map if you are a traditionalist) and you either run it or you don’t. However, for other goals, it’s helpful to break them down more. ‘Losing some weight’ is not measurable. ‘Release 20lbs’ is easy to measure. You can be in no doubt that you have achieved this goal.  

Achievable – I don’t like to think that much is not achievable in this life. With that said, you have to make sure you are responsible for the outcomes of the goal. ‘My husband needs to be nicer to me’ is not an achievable goal as, last time I checked anyway, you don’t have any control over his behaviour. ‘I will behave in x way in order to make my part in our marriage more loving’ is, however, achievable.  

Relevant – Relevant seems an odd word here, doesn’t it? The way I like to think of it is digging into the why of the goal. Often a goal is too out there, too much a product of ‘ideal me would do X’ thinking. Now there’s nothing wrong with fantasising about what your ideal self would do! But if your ideal self lives a life that bears no resemblance to yours – or at least not yet – this is when the word relevant comes into its own. If you decide to lose some weight because a friend is on a weight loss journey and you want to support them, or a family member has been carping on at you to drop a couple of pounds, but you don’t have a real desire to do so, it’s not a relevant goal for you. It’s their goal, and you would probably do better to pick something you want to do instead. 

Time-bound – An essential in goal setting. Without an end date, your goal stays a dream! If I want to run a marathon but I don’t get specific about when I want to do it, it becomes all too easy to put off training, to put off the whole goal itself. You will have seen this in your own life and the people around you, I’m sure. A woolly and dateless goal turns into something wistfully spoken about like it’s ethereal, formless, achievable only in a dream. ‘Oh well, when, when I run a marathon…’ ‘when I’ve lost this weight…’ ‘when I’ve left this job…’  

So there you have it, a rundown on how to strategically plan your goals.  

In Part 2 we will look at the next steps, once you have created your shiny new SMART goal.  


This post was kindly written by Alexandra from alexandratozercoaching.com