Tuesday, 2 June 2015

How smart is SMART? Comment on realistic


The famous business SMART targets are great:


Most business people and high achievers know them and many others who are not immersed in the world of self-development may have encountered them at one time or another in a work seminar or professional development course.

I often use them with young clients to sharpen their ambitions. I used them recently with a client (17 years old) who said he'd do his revision "this week."


"This week."

"No, what days? When is your exam?"


"Right, let's be more specific about the timing. When are you going to do the revision?"

"Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday."

"Ok. What times?"

"12.30 each day. Till 3.30."

"Great. Now, where?"

"Dining room. No distractions as everyone will be at work or school..."

"Sorted! Now we have something specific - what you'll be revising and when you'll be doing it, for how long and where. This alone will help you actually do the work! Much better than, 'Oh, I'll get it done this week.'"

But what about realism? 

How realistic are our goals? For my client, the goal of sitting down and implementing his revision was relatively painless. He had to do it and the questions helped him visualise (which I also got him to do) when and where he would be working.

Realistic targets are something else though.

We have dreams - and dreams can only become realised if they are realistic. But to whom, when and how - well, these are a little bit more sensitive issues.

Realistic connects to achievable. And frankly, if we're not physically or mentally limited then we can achieve what we set out to achieve.

The problem is realistic...as perceived by other people we know.

Again and again I hear stories of people not even trying for their goals because other people say that they are not realistic. We have to learn and then accept that that is other people's perception though - usually of their own lives. If the great achievers of life (at all levels, known and unknown) listened to the dream-stealers and nay-sayers, not much would be achieved.

What is realistic relates to what is achievable and as long as we're not trying to break the laws of the universe and we're working with them: what's stopping us?

Other people usually.

Which is why we need to block the thoughts of others affecting our dreams.

When my wife and I decided to have home births for our babies, we were coached by Mia Scotland in hypo-birthing techniques: Mia taught both of us - especially Moira - to block the negative comments people often make to pregnant women: "Oh, when I had my baby, it was dreadful..." Not very helpful. Not that the midwives were great either. "Now, these are the risks of a home birth...death, death, death." Seriously. We had one supposedly high level midwife write that three times on Moira's sheet. By then though Moira was inured to the comments and just thought it was funny. I believe Mia uses the quotations to educate midwives in what NOT to say to women about to give birth.

We went on to have two great home births. We learnt to visualise what we wanted and we got it - it was hard work on our part as we had to invest in our dreams and the SMART targets implied in them. But against the nay-sayers, we had to arm ourselves: what they considered unrealistic was based on their occupational conditioning - the expectation that women should give birth in hospital.

It's the same with our professional or business dreams. Listen to yourself and let the ideas and visions flow. Expect people will say it's unrealistic and just change the words to 'unrealistic for them' in your head; or 'I wouldn't do that...' to 'No, you probably wouldn't - but you're not me.'

What is real is what you make of life. It's your life so live it to the full. And keep the buzzing dream stealers far from your heart and mind!

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