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How S.M.A.R.T. goals almost killed my dream

Martin Luther King didn't say he had a goal he said he had a DREAM.

When I read this recently in a blog by Pam Grout, I felt a deep sensation of a truth, an aha moment. We don't get excited about a goal, we get excited about the manifestation of our dreams.... just listen to the difference as you say out loud "I have a goal" vs. "I HAVE A DREAM".

At one point in my life I felt a need, a huge desire to reconnect to the inner determination and drive that I seemed to have misplaced. At the time I had sold my business and was home with my 1 and 3 year old. I had no job of my own for the first time since I was 15 yrs old. Without knowing it I slowly lost my feeling of independence, self worth and tenacious drive that really made up the part of me I connected with and loved most. I was losing myself. Yet I had sold my business to be present and home with them for the next few years. A CHOICE I made. So now what? I needed to find something that was for me and connected me to my strengths.

I wasn't ready to start a new career yet but I certainly wasn't ready to die yet either.

The moment I had this sense of clarity, I kid you not, a magazine dropped out of a pile I was throwing away. On the cover was the title "Run Your First Marathon (26.2 miles)." hmmmmmm.....

This is something I could do, or could I? And in that moment I knew I could. I didn't know why but I was going to try. It seemed to fit within the structure of my life. It would require determination. It would be something for myself. In that moment I could feel this burning desire develop. (I promise I'm getting to the SMART Goal part.)

So I made a plan. I invested in my dream. A dream that was big enough for me to find a way through the obstacles. A dream that was big enough for me to sacrifice lazy mornings on the weekend. It was big enough for me to work through the physical pain, and there was pain.

I picked a date. I picked a plan. I set my goals - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. (breakdown at bottom of post) I focused on the plan and I followed the plan. I focused on those goals and I became obsessed with the perfect completion of them. I ran when it said to. I pushed myself to keep running even if my body told me otherwise. I stayed focused on checking off the task. I didn't want to fall behind because I thought that would mean I failed. Yet that is just what I did. I forgot that my body had a mind of its own. I got hurt. I had to stop running for over a month. I had to cancel that race.

S.M.A.R.T. goals almost killed my dream.

I got so focused on completing the goals that were in front of me and so focused to stay on task that I lost sight of what my dream really was. My dream was to reconnect with my strengths, by training for, and completing a marathon, as I learned and grew within the process along the way. My dream was:

To become a better version of myself, to become the person who set the goal in the first place.

I was not becoming a better version of myself. I didn't know what was achievable, realistic or timely when I set the goals. I was focusing on the wrong thing. So I threw it out and started over! I picked a new date. Picked a new training program. Healed my legs. And I engaged in a new process with my new awareness.

Yet this time...I focused on THE NEXT RIGHT STEP. I stayed in the process and in the moment. I didn't tie up my worth in the completion of the task. When I had to adapt the plan I reconnected with the dream and the desire and I adjusted, I adapted and I knew that success would come only if I stayed focused on the next right step for ME.

By engaging in the next right step I was able to build momentum moving forward to achieve my dream. And in doing so I would build the momentum to not only complete that marathon but I completed a total of 6 in the next 3 years.

I certainly have to re-learn this lesson often in all areas of my life and career, probably too often. Sometimes I think I just might be a slow learner... yet when I re-engage in keeping my focus on the next right thing I always come out the other end with the momentum needed to achieve success.

So if you are one of those people that just can't seem to make the SMART goals work for you, don't beat yourself up... know that it might be as simple as focusing on how to keep get moving first.

Connect to your dream and stay FOCUSED on the next right step, build on the momentum and let that step determine the next right step for you.

I did eventually set smart goals after my first two marathons. I had become a runner and I wanted to push myself further. I already had the desire and the momentum and had grown in knowledge so setting specific measurable attainable realistic timely goals became a tool and not the focus for me to reach even greater success.

What is your next right step in your life? In your career? In your health? In your spirit?

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