The 3 Layers of Goal Setting: Smarter than ‘SMART’

admin - Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Of course, we want to see results for our efforts.  It’s natural for us to put our attention on results.  Most goal setting tools encourage this kind of attention.  But we all know that so much of what happens in life is outside our control, and we are laughed at when we attempt to ‘control’ the results.goal

None the less, high achievers do set goals.  ‘Unless you have a destination, you go nowhere’.   So go ahead and set your goal, make them SMART goals, if you wish (you can find heaps on the internet about SMART goals). This is the first layer, the outer layer, where we have the least control.  Then, after determining your destination, ‘let it go’ and focus on the actions and attitude that are likely to lead to the result, because that is all that you have control over.

Allow me illustrate.   I want to improve my cardiovascular fitness.  That’s one of my goals at the moment.  That means I need wide, strong arteries and veins.  You will agree that to go directly to my arteries and try widening them would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it.  Instead, I leave my arteries alone and I focus on actions that will lead to strengthening and widening, such as regular exercise and healthy eating.  ‘Actions’ are the second layer, the middle layer, where we have some control.  Now you can drive to your destination.

But, we also know from experience that our behaviours are influenced by our state of mind, aren’t they.  I tried to exercise regularly, but my attitude wasn’t supporting me.  So I backed up another layer and chose an attitude of ‘determination’ i.e. no conversation and no excuses.  Choosing ‘how’ I do my actions makes all the difference.  In NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) this is referred to as ‘setting your intention’.  This affects your ‘state of mind’, and we all know how powerful that is, don’t we. This is the inner layer – the layer totally under our control, once we learn how. Now you are doing the most important thing, choosing ‘how’ to drive to your destination, choosing the correct gear for the circumstances.

Now you can go ahead and acknowledge the results you truly want, then ask, ‘what can I do that is likely to lead to that result’, and then ask, ‘with what attitude will I do it’, and be prepared to be surprised at how energise you will feel.