To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all. – Oscar Wilde
Recently, I have been facilitating a course on documenting workplace performance within a large organization encouraging individual accountability as part of its culture change initiative. Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-based) goals is the foundation of this seminar. We are often required to set goals and have professional development plans to keep us on track at work. Yet, how frequently do we apply this type of forced focus in our personal lives?
Personal development is an ongoing journey. Most journeys require some form of ‘plan’ or ‘roadmap’ that guide us in the directions we want to go. Setting goals is the first step. The next step is asking ourselves how we define and will measure happiness and success against our life goals in depth and detail. Without a personal development plan – and the ability to effectively articulate our goals within it – we tend to wander rather than consciously lead ourselves through life with passion and purpose.
Core values as anchors
Personal development plans and goals reflect our core values and anchor us to life. Often, our goals are the personification of who we want to become. The absence of concrete goals and measures is frequently rooted in apathy, confusion and fear of potential rejection or failure. The results are feeling stuck and living on the periphery of life without taking initiative.
Smart goals, real gains
Just saying we want to do something in our lives – like getting in shape and losing weight – are empty goals unless we consciously attach benefits to our actions along with targeted measures for incentivized success. A smarter goal is, “I want to tone up and lose eight pounds over the next six months by lifting weights and doing cardio three to five times a week so that I feel better physically and am more confident in my summer clothes.”
This all might seem obvious. And, think about how many times you have thought or talked about a personal goal and did not follow through with it because you did not have a set plan on how to achieve it. If we do not set and hold ourselves accountable to SMART goals in life, who will? Why would we leave our personal development to chance? Actively establishing personal development plans and goals helps us to live with increased control, clarity and confidence – and to create and attract more of what we authentically desire and require.
In the driver’s seat
One of the best things about personal development plans and goals is that we hold the power to continually revise them as we learn and grow with age and experience. The plans we plan – and the lives we live – are the products of our individual accountability and engagement in them. We are each in the proverbial driver’s seat of our lives and careers. Having roadmaps for how we define and measure happiness and success in life and at work is smart – even if we decide to take alternative routes along the way.