In this article, you will learn 4 key steps to help you set wise goals that will support true success.
This article is especially relevant for those who:
- value learning, growth and personal development,
- are interested in improving their life and becoming successful on healthy terms,
- individuals who are not sure what goals to set.
The insights below will also benefit regular goal-setters.
Importance of setting the right goals for success
Many people chase success but can find success deeply problematic, overwhelming, or lacking. These people are not rare celebrities. Many of them are ordinary human beings. You could be one of them.
Consider this quote:
Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really livedDalai Lama
So many of us focus our efforts on things that don’t always deliver the imagined happiness or even security we were after. I invite you to listen to Allan Whatts, which I find timely and relevant.
SMART goals also need to be WISE
You probably heard about setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound: SMART goals. This concept can be found in many management training and personal effectiveness programs. Coaches also use it to support clients. But, there is more to wise goals than just making them SMART.
According to Edward Locke and Gary Lathman, leaders in goal-setting theory since the late 1960s, goal setting is a powerful and highly effective technique for success when they meet five principles.
- Clarity that eliminates confusion.
- Challenge that helps one grow and expand.
- Genuine commitment to the goal.
- Feedback that can guide and correct action.
- Task complexity that aligns with the goal complexity, so that there is sufficient time to support good morale.
For me, these principles are worth considering if we want to set goals that are also wise.
According to Phillip Moffitt, author of Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, “Wise action is any action that liberates the mind, moves you toward freedom from suffering, and supports a feeling of well-being that is independent of external conditions.” Wise goals ought to do the same.
4 key steps to help you set wise goals
To set wise goals, consider taking these 4 steps:
- Ask What-if? to evaluate whether the goal you set is indeed wise. Will it expand your mind? Will it move you towards greater freedom? Does it support your wellbeing?
- Imagine yourself in pursuit of this goal and notice how your body reacts? What key thoughts arise? What emotions fill your heart? And, does your spirit generally expands or shrinks as you bring attention to this goal?
- Assess whether the goal you’ve chosen is systemically grounded. In other words, does success in one sphere of your life or ecosystem, for example work, business or team, create unforseen trouble(s) elsewhere?
- Check that the journey towards this goal will be equally, if not more, energy giving than getting to the finish line.
These four steps have helped me dismiss a number of goals that I could make into SMART goals and spend a great deal of time pursuing but my life would not be better for it. This included house moves, jobs, specific projects, and books. There is something far priceless than a constant pursuit of this or that, and that’s a personally meaningful and enlivening one. Is what you seek a path to greater joy or suffering.
How our Grid method supports wise goal realization
Our Grid method helps you design and work towards wise goals and wise action in the spirit of making the best of time, however long it may be, or not. It follows the Lack and Lathman theory and, by design, will help you ask the bigger questions such as:
- What does success mean to me and what constotutes success?
- What do I need to be safe, connected and happy as far as my nervous system is concerned, and not just what the world tells me should matter?
- How do I move forward in balance with the natural force of life instead of having to struggle against it?
- How do I keep myself resourced and refreshed in my journey through life?
- How do I appreciate and celebrate the person I am today?
- Who am I becoming?
This is why we use the Grid framework to support our leadership development journeys and client coaching.
Wise Goal setting – Your turn!
“The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”.World Health Organization
- How you want to grow,
- What will create greater freedom for you in your life,
- How to bring more wellbeing into your life.
These are important goals in and of themselves as they set you up for all else you will ever accomplish. The latest research from the USA and the UK shows that the number of people with depression after the pandemic is doubling. Whether I’m talking with my clients many of whom are working professionals or my 15-year old at home, more people wonder what they should do with their life. I help clients sit with these questions and pay close attention to the answers that emerge. They always do if we know how to look and have courage. With clarity and conviction that we’re on the right path all goals and effort, helps us move in the right direction.
Here are some practical ways that my work and learning can serve you: