I love setting goals; and have loved it since I was a little girl with plaits. I vividly recall being around 9 years old stating I was going to go to Julliard School of Music to play the flute. Over the years my goals changed a bit but I was still making goals. (I’m lookin' at you 15 year Ashley René who dreamed of being a serial entrepreneur.)
I was unaware of SMART goals at the time. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was exposed to this method of goal setting. A professor introduced it to me as a way to plan better.
The method was great. Very well structured and easy for me to follow through on my goals. For those of you unfamiliar with the SMART goal method, here it is:
T: Time Bound
This tried and true method has helped me read 10 books one year, run a marathon another year, get amazing promotions at work multiple years and become a better business woman last year. But I wonder if this method has kept me from really reaching my full potential.
You see, I take exception to one word in the SMART goal setting method – Realistic.
Oxford Dictionary defines realistic as “having or showing a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected.” Just reading that definition gets me worked up. It is #plainjane #boring
What is the fun in living a life that is merely “sensible” or “practical?” The world has NEVER been changed by individuals who acted sensibly or practically. The world changes when people take the road less traveled. Sure, lives can be impacted by sensible and practical people, but the people who make the biggest impact on someone’s life are the people who dare to be different and do what seems impossible.
The world has given us clear directions on what is realistic and to be expected. Wake up. Go to work. Perform your job as best you can. Leave work. Go home. Tend to any people or pets you have. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. You can throw in fun activities, but they need to fit into what is acceptable.
If this makes you happy then I am happy for you. For me however, I can no longer do realistic. Realistic has come to bore me and stifle my potential.
This year, as I make my goals I am still going to employ the SMAAT (pronounced SM-AHT) goal setting method
T: Time Bound
Your goals should be AUDACIOUS! They should seem so impossible when you share them people will be a little confused. Audacious goals make us work harder and keep us dreaming, just as we did when we were a kid. See, I am sure many of you once dreamed big and bold but somewhere along the way you were told that big and bold dreams weren’t for people “like you.” A female. A kid from poverty or from a small town. A kid of color or with a disability. And like that, your dreams became smaller and more practical, reasonable.
I love this quote from Steve Jobs, "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Safe keeps us safe, but audacious can take us places. When executed smartly, audacious can change the course of history.
You were meant to do great things. You were meant to have happiness and success as defined by you. Now, you still need a have a plan to get there but do not let the enormity of your dreams stop you from pursuing them. Could you imagine if our trailblazers listened to those around them telling them to just stop: Sojourner Truth, Booker T Washington, Henry Ford, Madame CJ Walker, The Wilbur Brothers, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep.
This is your year my friend. Whatever you have been holding back on, this is the year it comes out. It is your year to break personal records and impact the lives of those around you. It is your year to see gains in areas of your life that haven’t seen gains in ages. This is your year. Don't be afraid of your audacious goals - go after them and make it happen.
Time flies. We all have felt it at some point. From our first, childhood memories of summer break to the first summer we had no break. From celebrating the last day of high school as a perky teenager to suddenly experiencing the first day of Kindergarten as a parent. From giving our parent’s grief to grieving for our parents. Yes, time flies.
And though we recognize we cannot stop time and we cannot slow time down, we still waste time. We waste time on things that do not matter and things that do not give us joy. Filling our days mindlessly.
As difficult as it might be, you must make time work for you. It won’t be easy, but you can do it. To help you get started, here are three ways you can begin taking control of your time starting today.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
Prioritize what gets your attention. Above all your health must come first. If you are not healthy you cannot serve. You must do what is necessary for your physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual self to be fed. Making time for self-care is not selfish, it is necessary.
Second to health is stealth, or relationships with others. Once time passes there is no going back. Nurture relationships with your loved ones, make time to laugh and live. Splurge on a night out. Skip that work thing. Sit and lose track of everything around you.
And finally, wealth. Earning income is essential to maintaining a quality of life, just don't make it your life. Set boundaries and stick to them. Have open conversations with your supervisor, team and clients regarding how you can flex your time. Leverage technology to make it a win-win for everyone.
DELEGATE AND EMPOWER
Give others a chance to try. This goes for chores at the house, activities of the non-profit, projects at work and anything else where there are others who can take on the task. Allow them to do what you are doing or teach them. If you are constantly doing everything for everyone then they will never learn the value of DOING. Not to mention, by doing everything for everyone, we cut into time for ourselves and the things that matter to us. We must be willing to trust those around us to do things as well.
If there is no one readily available to delegate something to and it is a task that still must be done, hire someone or something else to do it. Many people have a maid come in to help clean around the house. Don’t want the monthly bill? Purchase a Roomba or Bravaa, two robots to at least take something off your plate by cleaning your floors for you. Consider investing in tools that can automate processes for you.
Do not be afraid of letting go. It is quite liberating.
JUST SAY NO
For many people, especially women, this is the most difficult thing when it comes to blending work and life. The most common thing I hear, is “I would feel guilty if I said no.” All the while they are secretly stressed and bearing a weighty animosity. Others (ahem, cough, me) push through because they think they can do it all and want to help heal the world but end up crashing hard and everything falls apart.
Whether it stems from a feeling of guilt or fear or not wanting to disappoint or a false sense of being able to do it all, we tend say "yes" when we want to say "no." Too often we stretch ourselves thin and end up stressing ourselves out. One word can change all of that. No. If you struggle with this, practice in the mirror, "NO." It takes practice and a confidence to actually do it when the time comes, but it is doable and incredibly empowering.
Time is finite. And because we do not know how much we have, we must be willing to be stingy with it and spend it in the places that matter doing things that matter. Setting boundaries and leveraging technology to create a life that is rich for not only us, but for those who depend on us.
I have a super fun workshop that I lead to help people better understand where they spend their time. Email me at Ashley@ashleyrenecasey.com to set up time to talk about how your organization could benefit from the workshop.