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.
There is a phrase that you have likely heard at the beginning of any dramatic movie trailer: “in a world….” The phrase typically sets the stage for a world drastically different than reality. It could be a world filled with aliens from another planet or a world led by humans with extraordinary powers. The past few months feel like someone has said, “in a world…” and we are living in a high budget Hollywood movie with John Williams composing the soundtrack.
Islands devastated by hurricanes. Municipalities saturated by flooding. Cities crumbled by earthquakes. A President gone rogue. Communities deeply divided by hate. And now one of the most visited tourist sites shook by violence. Not sure how the filmmaker would finish the sentence of “in a world” given the diversity of destruction, but the stage is set for a blockbuster.
One day I will research the past century to see if there ever was a point in time that resembled one like we are in. Perhaps my self-absorbed tendencies drive me to believe these times are different from others and life is moving just as it has in decades and centuries and millennia prior. Or perhaps not.
Perhaps the frequency and intensity of catastrophic storms has increased and what we have experienced over the past two months is a prelude to what is to come.
Perhaps parts of Earth that have remained dormant for ages are awakening and preparing to engulf its habitats with violent shakes and explosive fire.
Perhaps the expectation of leading with integrity has finally faded with morals and a sense of compassion for the weak and lonely, replaced instead by histrionic, narcissistic displays parading proudly.
Perhaps love is fading and the lonely, disenfranchised have had enough so they choose to inflict pain on the weak to feel strong and seek revenge to appear powerful.
Perhaps this world existed when I was a child but I was too blind to see.
If this movie continues, what will final scenes look like? Who will take the lead roles? Who will be the last survivors? How will the set be designed? What will be the sound of the score?
There is a lot of work for us to do if we want a say in the final scenes, whether we are here for them or not. The actions we take today will directly impact weather events, political decisions and the actions of our fellow man.
YES! YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
While the Earth has a natural rhythm, we have the power to disrupt it. When we take more than we need we create an imbalance. When we dirty the air and the water and the land we chip away from the whole we were trusted with. Take only what you need; care for the rest.
Elections take place every year, sometimes more than once a year. Let your voice be heard – VOTE. Vote at local elections. Vote on bills and amendments. Vote to represent your community. Many elections have come down to the difference of a few votes. Your vote can be the difference, don’t let it go to waste.
Finally, love. Love without boundaries. Love because everyone deserves it. Love because you can’t stand to see another senseless act of violence. A compliment or a kind word might change the course of someone’s day. The gift of compassion might change the course of someone’s life. Love because you want to be loved. Love because love.
The only drama I want to see is on the big screen. The phrase “in a world” is completely appropriate for escapism at the theater, but I could do without it on the small screen.