No More S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Me

I used to think my goals had to be “realistic”. After all, I’ve been told over and over again to set S.M.A.R.T. goals; the “A” standing for “achievable”.

However, I’ve come to the realization that setting achievable goals has been holding me back. Slowing me down. I’ve been aiming too low.

So, I’ve decided it’s time to KICK IT UP A NOTCH.

I recently revised a few of my goals for 2017 and DOUBLED the targets.

Yup. I don’t care whether they’re achievable; I’m just GOING FOR IT!

As a result, my productivity recently has been through the roof. I’m getting a more done, I’m super motivated, I’m tackling the really hard tasks, I’m procrastinating less, I’m more positive, and I’m making some serious headway toward my “unrealistic” goals.

What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe I miss my new targets slightly? That definitely wouldn’t be the worst.

Maybe it’s time for you to kick it up a notch too?

Straight Talk for a More Successful Year

Are you a business owner, senior executive, salesperson, consultant, freelancer, or in a similar entrepreneurial or leadership career? If yes, this post is for you.

If you’re already crushing your goals, no need to read on.

However, if you wish things were easier and just simply going better for your business or career, you need to read this.

I have 3 pieces of advice for you.

But if you’re a person who actually needs the advice, I bet you’re going to disagree with me.

#1: People are just trying to help you. Show some gratitude.

In your day to day dealings with people, be they employees, co-founders, co-workers, strategic partners, vendors, shareholders, investors, or service providers, for the most part they are actually trying to help you. Yes, they have their own agenda too, but generally speaking they’re human and humans like to help other humans.

Occasionally, you probably find that people do things that annoy you, waste your time, or clog up your already overflowing email inbox. Please, please consider that they may actually be going out of their way to try and help you.

Okay, that’s not the always the case, I realize. Sometimes, they are actually being selfish and ignorant. But, regardless… why not include the word “thanks” more often in your emails or conversations, even if the thing they did isn’t all that helpful to you?

Isn’t it better to have more people “on your side” than fewer?

Why bother annoying people with a terse response, or worse yet, no response at all and pushing them away?

#2: Be more open-minded to other people’s opinions and advice.

Let’s face it. Most entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives, consultants, and salespeople are strong-minded, smart, and confident people. They know a LOT of answers to problems.

However, if you’re not currently crushing your goals and living the dream, maybe it’s time to be more open-minded to other people’s opinions and advice?

Stop dismissing someone else’s opposing opinion as soon as it leaves their mouth.

Instead, pause, take a deep breath, and ask them, “Hmm… that’s not what I would have thought. Why do you think that?”

#3: Stop blaming others when something goes wrong.

I’m sure you can think of many times when an interaction or a project with another person either inside or outside your company has gone poorly or frustrated you because it didn’t got the way you wanted it to.

There is no value as an entrepreneur or business leader to immediately blame the other person for the situation going off the rails.

Allow me to repeat myself and give some straight talk here… there is ABSOLUTELY NO VALUE to you as a leader in blaming others either publicly, privately, or in your own mind. 

There is ONLY value in learning from failures. Rather than blaming others, you need to start looking inward first. Even if you’re absolutely convinced it’s not your fault, the only valuable response is to ask yourself,

“What could I have done differently to help improve the outcome of this situation.”

Blaming others is a waste of time and energy, both of which are the most valuable assets in your personal and business life.

But what about you, Craig?

If you know me personally, you know I have been guilty many times of all of the above. However, with my new positive outlook, I am striving to improve my attitude and behaviour in all three of these areas.

What about you? What are you going to do differently in 2017?

Okay, okay. I give in. I’m ready to try a positive attitude.

Warning: if you’re a pessimist, you’ll likely find this blog post cheesy, lame, and I might even lose you as a friend…

Time for a change

While I don’t think I’m firmly entrenched in the pessimists’ camp, I will admit I’ve spent my fair share of time with a less than cheery outlook on things.

There have been occasions in my career when I’ve been told I’m too negative and need to be more of a cheerleader for my team, my partners, my coworkers, and my managers.

If I’m honest with myself, my personal friends might even agree that I’m a bit too negative at times.

Of course, my standard response is, “I’m a realist, not a pessimist.” 🙂

Well, I’ve decided I’m going to try optimism and positivity on for size.

What’s changed?

Over the past few months, three things have come to light for me.

First, I know more than a few people who tend to have a pessimistic and negative attitude toward things, people, and situations. I find it depressing, frustrating, and quite frankly, tiring. So, I got to thinking…

I guess that’s how my own negative and pessimistic attitude makes other people feel too? Hmm. That’s not good. I should stop that.

Second, I’ve put a lot of effort recently into changing the way I approach goal setting, behaviour, and habits. I’ve come to truly understand that one of the most critical success factors in achieving a goal lies in building new, consistent, and productive behaviours that transition into being automatic and unconscious habits over time.

Building a new habit, especially for a task you find difficult or unpleasant, is really hard! Particularly because it takes (in my opinion) not 21, not 66, but more like 100 days of doing that unpleasant thing consistently before it becomes automatic.

If you approach that new unpleasant task from a negative or pessimistic perspective, how likely are you to keep doing it for 100+ days? Not very likely.

However, if you “make friends with the pain” and approach the unpleasant task from a positive and optimistic viewpoint, you have a FAR better chance of keeping it up for the long haul.

You’re sure to go through peaks and valleys of motivation, but with a positive attitude it’s more likely you’ll climb out of the valleys with enough momentum to keep going.

And third, it turns out the world does actually look better through rose-coloured glasses. Ok, maybe I’m not quite up to THAT level of optimism, but I do find that when I’m successful in simply choosing a positive attitude over negative, things just seem happier and less of a drag.

So, in the spirit of walking the walk, I’m striving to maintain a positive attitude.

I can speak from recent personal experience that my newfound positive attitude has helped me form new habits out of behaviours that I used to find dreadful.

Behaviours like eating salad instead of french fries, skipping dessert, doing mind-numbing tasks at work, or flossing my teeth everyday are no longer as much chores as they are opportunities for personal improvement.

Yes, I used to despise flossing my teeth. Weird, I know.

And, 3 months into my new somewhat healthier eating habits, I’ve lost almost 20 pounds and am more than halfway to my first weight loss goal.

The pessimist negative me of olde struggled with building better habits.

Obviously, success requires more than just a positive attitude

To be clear, I’ve also implemented a few other strategies to help me build new habits and achieve my goals faster and easier than before.

For example, on the days that I take 5 minutes at the end of the day to jot down a quick “status update” on my progress, I find that I’m constantly more mindful of the goals, habits, and positive attitude required for success.

The act of journaling my progress is really working for me. On the days I take the time to journal, I tend to stay focused and disciplined. And on the days I don’t journal, I lose focus, procrastinate a bit more, and make less progress toward my goals.

If you question the value of journaling, read this article from Huffington Post: 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal

I built myself a tool to help: MyDreamboard

I decided to build myself an app to help with goal setting, motivation, and habit building. It’s called, MyDreamboard. It’s not super fancy, but it’s really working for me.

I’m keen to see whether it works for anyone else. If you’re interested, feel free to sign up and try it out yourself (it’s free).

I’d love to hear your feedback and ideas. As long as they’re positive, of course. 😉