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Setting Goals That Stick: Part VII

Posted on March 11th, 2014 by Stephen Hardy | Print

In previous blogs we’ve looked at the process of setting SMART goals. SMART goals are:





In this, the final blog in this series, we will look at making them SMARTER.


Later workers in the area of goal setting have extended the idea of SMART goals to making them SMARTER. The additional letters stand for:


The Scottish poet Robert Burns in his 1785 poem “To a Mouse” put it nicely:

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

The loose translation of which is: Things don’t go according to plan and you get hurt.

Aside from death and taxes, change is the only certainty in life. Sometimes your tastes change, sometimes your priorities change and sometimes circumstances change them for you. Change can take place slowly and sometimes suddenly and unexpectedly. Change can be joyous and sometimes, crushingly painful. And when change happens, the goals you previously set yourself may no longer apply, or be appropriate, or seem as important as they were before. The opposite may also be true. So as you and your circumstances change, so your goals may need to change. This is where the Evaluate and Re-evaluate come in to make a SMART goal SMARTER.

To finish, we need to go back to where we started: Health is a marathon not a sprint. Staying healthy for life IS running an Ultra-Marathon. The trick is to make it fun and not a challenge. So never underestimate the cumulative power of successfully achieving lots of small or modest well-chosen goals: Change your evening meal from meat and two veggies to meat and three veggies. With this simple change alone you increasing the variety of vegetables you are eating by 50 %. Increase the amount of exercise from 1 hour to 2 hours per week. You’ve just doubled the amount of exercise you do. Cutting down from 40 cigarettes a day to 20 takes you a long way down the track to quitting. Losing 2 kilograms / 5 pounds in January and every month after puts you on track for losing the 20 kilograms / 40 pounds you want to lose in time for your wedding in August. Only put one sugar in your coffee rather than two. Over the course of a year and especially over a lifetime, the health benefits of these little changes will mount up massively.

So don’t give up on your health goals or New Year’s Resolutions just because you haven’t met them yet, or you’ve had an attack of the “guilts”. Maybe all that’s needed is to re-think the way you defined your goals and how you plan to go about achieving them.

Finally, I don’t know what your goals are. I don’t want to tell you what they should be. I don’t want you thinking every goal you set has to change the world. What I do want is for you to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Because what I do know, as sure as night follows day, is if more of us succeed in achieving and living the noble goals we set for ourselves, the world can’t help but change.

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

From “Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph” by T. E. Lawrence, more commonly known to the world as “Lawrence of Arabia”.

Until next time, stay happy and healthy.