Move Over, SMART Goals: There's A More Effective Way To Achieve Your Wildest Dreams

Photo: Cait Scudder

If you're in the business, coaching, or teaching worlds, you've likely heard of the SMART goals technique—a powerful goal-setting tool designed to help you clarify your objectives and move toward those objectives with strategy and intention. The SMART acronym stands for Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. These are all traits that high-quality goals have.

Basically, making a SMART goal helps us to identify how to get where we want to go. But the problem with creating our goals according to SMART standards alone is that often knowing how to achieve our end goals isn’t enough to spark the passion and follow-through we need to achieve them. Usually, it’s the underlying, heart-burning, soul-on-fire why that makes the difference between achieving our goals and burning out.

Without that North Star, that why, working toward our goals can quickly start to feel like all grind, no grace. And who wants to work like that when there's a new, better paradigm of goal setting? There's a way to set goals that actually feels good—fusing hustle and heart, strategy and soul, committed action and deep satisfaction.

So, what does that new paradigm look like? A heaping scoop of the SMART template and a generous drizzle of SOUL. When we connect to what's motivating us to create our goals and build a vision in the first place, we tap into the wellspring of creative energy that inspired us to take action in the first place. And connecting with this source of creative energy invites a state of flow.

Photo: Cait Scudder

When we’re connected like this, we feel more purposeful, more passionate, and less burned-out as we work. The more we connect to the energy that catalyzes our desires and propels us in the direction of our dreams, the more powerful we are and more energized our goals become.

Here are three simple steps to setting goals that light you up from the inside out.

1. Visualize the outcome you desire.

Before you follow the SMART goals template, visualize the end goal—the ultimate outcome you desire. Visualization is one of the most powerful tools in seeking clarity. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Ask yourself: What bigger dream am I working toward? What does that dream look and feel like, and how do I feel inside of it?

Envision your ideal reality, and let yourself feel what it's like to have achieved that. Bring into your mind’s eye the fullness of the outcome, as if it has already happened. Write down what your life looks and feels like in this future. Then and only then, follow the SMART template to set goals that incrementally move you toward this place through concrete, measurable action.

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2. Name and claim your underlying motivation for pursuing your desires.

Now that you have a clear vision of what you desire and how you feel when that desire is achieved, ask yourself why you want it. What's fueling your passion to fulfill this desire? Why are you pursuing these outcomes? How do you want to feel? What difference do you want to see/make in your own life, the lives of those closest to you, and the lives of others?

3. Keep your vision and your motivation front and center.

Write your vision and your motivation for achieving that vision on a piece of paper and hang it up in your office, on your bathroom mirror, or somewhere else you will see it every day. At the start of your workday, before you dive into the day's action, take a minute to meditate on your motivation to work toward those goals. And maybe, just maybe, bring some gratitude to the table.

Be grateful for the opportunity to work toward your vision, for the inspiration to create the magic you’re making. Reconnecting with your motivation on a daily basis has the power to amplify the impact of your action big-time. Keeping your vision front and center naturally sparks gratitude. It's a joy and a privilege to be able to work toward such an inspiring outcome, isn't it?

Want more insights on how to level up your life? Check out your July horoscope, then find out why holding on to past relationships is the worst thing you can do for yourself.

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