Do you DIPMCS?
I have always had issues with SMART goals. I believe they are not suited for the majority of people making everyday goals, so I came up with a new process. This is the process I use for myself, my clients and anyone else who will listen, and it has brought about more ‘aha’ moments than I can count.
Give it a try and hopefully by the end, you’ll DIPMCS too!
Set a Direction, not a specific goal.
The things that are important to us are often not fleeting. We want to succeed in our endeavours both in the short and long term, so why set limits for ourselves? Instead of saying ‘I want to run a marathon in under 4 hours’, or ‘I want to hit $100,000 of sales this month’, why not say “I want to be the best marathon runner’ or ‘the best salesperson I can be’. When we set ourselves a direction we can always be moving in that direction. It has become our path, instead of just a one off target. There is no destination on the path, which means that as long as we stay on the path there is no limit to how far we can go.
Identify: Change your mindset.
By changing how we identify ourselves, we can change our thought pattern and, in turn, our behaviour. Rather than trying to motivate yourself to perform and trying to make the right choices, instead become someone who makes the right choices instinctively. If your goal is to get fitter and healthier, identify as a fit and healthy person, you could even identify as an athlete, and then make the choices that a fit, healthy athlete would make. This approach can work for any scenario. If your goal is to save money, identify as someone who makes informed decisions about spending. If your goal is to reduce your carbon footprint, become someone who is conscious of the environment. By identifying as someone who would be successful in achieving our goals, we can ensure that the choices we make in pursuit of them are not only the right ones, they are the easiest and most logical ones to make.
Process, process, process.
No matter how well intentioned and thought out our goals may be, without a process they are merely wishes. We need to create the habits and systems that will lead to progress and success on our chosen path. What do you need to do each day to achieve your goals? What is the step by step process involved? What is the input required to create the output desired? The process is the only thing that can affect the final outcome. The cake that comes out of the oven will be a direct result of the ingredients and method used to prepare it so if the input is lacking, no amount of wishing will give you a tasty treat at the end. If you can, start from the end goal and work backwards. If you don’t know the daily input required to reach your goals, then your first step is research. You must know the process involved in achieving what you want, otherwise you’re just guessing and hoping. It’s like building a house without a plan. You may somehow get there in the end, but chances are even if you do, it will be an expensive and shoddily built house. Research is key, process is everything.
Set Milestones, not end goals.
Milestones can be used in two ways. They can either be something to aim for along the way (future milestones), or they can be markers to look back on that show us how far we’ve come (progress milestones). Future milestones can be thought of as the more specific things we would like to achieve. Maybe there’s a holiday you are saving for, or a wedding you want to lose weight for. By setting these as milestones on your path, rather than the end of the path itself, you don’t limit your success to that event. You presumably still want to save money when your holiday is over, and be healthy long after your wedding has passed, so instead of giving up once you reach your targets, turn them into stepping stones that can launch you to the next success, and the one after that. It’s also important to pay attention to progress milestones to show how far you’ve come. They don’t always have to be planned ahead of time, just make note of them as they come up. This could be anything, like noting how much weight is now on the bar as compared to last month, or how you can now play the guitar without looking at your fingers. It can be anything you like, just make sure you pay attention to how far you’ve come and how great you’re doing along the way.
Consistency: Don’t miss twice.
In the pursuit of success there is one factor prized above all else, consistency. This is the element that is missing in many failed resolutions and goals, and the reason that the new habits we want so badly rarely stick. When we are inconsistent in our approach, we can’t hope to get the outcome we want. The good news is that according to the research, skipping the process here and there does not have any measurable effect on the outcome. If you miss a workout, or overspend one weekend, you can recover without too much trouble. The damage occurs when we skip the process consistently. So the answer lies in the adage ‘Don’t miss twice’. If you slip up and have an unplanned cheeseburger meal that’s ok, just make sure your next meal is packed with fresh veggies. If you’re tired and want to watch Netflix instead of going for a run that’s no problem, just plan a route with a few extra hills in it tomorrow. It’s ok to miss now and then, just don’t miss twice.
Be kind to yourself
Self-kindness is not only a way to improve your happiness, it also makes you more successful in your pursuits. Studies have shown that employing self-kindness about your mistakes makes you more likely to learn and grow from them, and be more effective the next time you are faced with a similar challenge, than does dwelling on them. We all make mistakes, and sometimes we even make them twice. The important thing is to not dwell on them any longer than is useful, to never berate yourself for what has happened in the past, and to instead look to how you might do things differently in the future. Be kinder to yourself about your downfalls and you will have far less of them.
This is the process and, like any transformative ideology, it requires work in order to succeed. The good news is the work you put in is directly and substantially rewarded and, the greater the effort, the greater the reward.
If goals and resolutions haven’t worked for you in the past, or if anything in this article resonated with you, give this process a try. You have nothing to lose and, just maybe, everything you’re capable of to gain.
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