By Jessica Sunier
There are numerous articles already printed about goal setting, and each of them have something valuable to offer. I am a firm believer that goal setting strategies are as varied as the individual and studying multiple ways to achieve a skill set should be part of someone’s personal growth process. The two most common strategies I have seen are the “purpose driven” mindset and the “S.M.A.R.T.” approach.
Purpose driven mindsets are good because they have that one major goal that you focus on. We will call these “telescope” goals and they should be set months or years into the future. Telescope goals are the big picture goals. That purpose and hunger for something more or better.*
S.M.A.R.T. goals is something we have heard many times. S, for specific; M, for measurable; A, for attainable; R, for realistic; and T, for timely. This model also fits nicely into “microscope” goals. The hourly, daily, and weekly intention that chips away at our telescope goal. We use the S.M.A.R.T. model at FitPOWER, but for years I have been struggling with this model. For many this method may be enough, but after reviewing multiple goal sheets I have found that my clients have trouble breaking them down even further. This is where I come in as a coach and try to figure out why some of my clients, much like myself, have trouble really diving into the S.M.A.R.T. model. What did I find? I found I needed to take the elements of that model and break them down into even more microscopic goals, and here is how I did it: Input vs. Output vs. Outcome.
I stumbled upon “Output vs. Outcome” when my husband and I were discussing goal setting similarities between those in the worlds of tech and strength. The minute he brought it up I was curious, and when it was mentioned again in a nutrition course I’m taking I started paying attention. Historically I tended to ignore signs slapping me in the face, but after a major slap a few years ago I have become more aware when something is being pointed out to me. As it turns out, this model helped me break down and see my goals clearer than I had in awhile. Let's take a look at the model and apply it to your goals.
When we talk about goals we are referring to a desired outcome. These outcomes vary person to person and while they may feel identical to goals you have seen before, they won’t look the same across the board. It is actually a complex system with many situations that you can control, and many that you cannot. Reaching your goal is the outcome. It is the final destination, the result of hard work, small consistent decisions, access to resources, a little bit of luck, and a touch of unicorn dust. When it comes to goals and outcomes, if someone tells you it’s black and white, a “you do it or you don’t” situation, they’re lying.
Finally we have reached inputs. Input is the energy, willpower, and dedication, as well as physical tangible objects, we have to put towards our goals. Inputs are what you put into your system that converts to outputs which equals your outcome. This is part of goal setting that I see clients, myself included, not paying enough attention to, and these guys deserve our focus.
If we shift back to the S.M.A.R.T. model for a moment, your inputs should have their own model dedicated specifically to them. Your inputs need to be obnoxiously specific, and you need to be able to measure how much or how little energy you dedicate to them. How much attention are you giving your most microscopic goals? Next we need to accept that all of our inputs may not be attainable every day. There must be some give and take. A little ebb and flow. As long as the majority of your inputs can be attained daily you have wiggle room. However, here is where some clients fall short and get frustrated.
If you find yourself unable to sustain your inputs you have to ask yourself if these inputs are realistic in the timeframe you’ve allowed yourself. This is where the “aha” moment comes in. If many of your inputs are hard to attain in the time frame you have set for yourself, perhaps one of your inputs should be a goal or skill you need to focus on first.
Below I have included a personal flow chart I created for myself. It includes my first goal I have set for September 2nd of this year. All of the extreme specifics I have logged on a personal platform for my eyes only, but you can see below that my inputs are as specific as in order to purchase healthy food I need to have money. Yes, that specific. Why? Because this means part of my time in my day has to be devoted to earning an income. This is what we mean by your goals are not black and white.
I hope this helps someone out there create an even more specific way to approach your goals. As I stated earlier, this is one method, and it works well for someone like myself who needs data and a laid out plan. If you are someone who finds the more information they receive the more anxious they get, either because you feel you are underperforming if you don’t hit numbers by a specific deadline or the idea of being this diligent is an added stressor, then there are other methods we can explore. Feel free to reach out to me or your coach and let us help find the most effective approach for you.
*Before you should want more for yourself you have to accept your starting point. It does not mean that your life isn't good the way it is, or that there is anything wrong with you. Wanting more for yourself is what keeps you learning, growing, and evolving.