The Secret to Achieving your Objectives is Staying “in the Zone”!
If you practised setting goals the SMARTEY way, I hope you found it helpful in getting clear about your goals, both in your head and in your gut so that you felt energised about starting to work on making your goals happen.
In my experience, the SMARTEY way of setting goals is not just a memorable acronym for a useful process, it is also key to staying motivated to make steady process on your goal and do whatever it takes for however long it takes until you achieve your goals.
And this is because using the SMARTEY method gets you to a special space of comfort around your objectives from which you can draw strength and motivation until you succeed. I call that place the “zone” and when you are in the “zone”, you:
- stay Connected to your goals,
- remain Confident about your success and
- retain Control over your objectives.
Let me illustrate how staying in the “zone” will help you achieve your goals as well as share the pitfalls of not being Connected enough to your goals, not feeling Confident enough to achieve them and not being in Control enough. Let me use an example which I think may resonate with many of you: studying for the theoretical part of your driving license exam. I don’t know about you but I nearly lost the will to live when I had to pore over the Highway Code. I enjoyed the driving lessons – that was exciting! But I got cross-eyed looking at all the different signs in the driving manual.
- Staying Connected.
What helped me get through it was that I found a way to connect with my goal of passing that part of the driving test. In my head, I reminded myself that I would not get my license unless I could also demonstrate that I knew the rules and the meaning of the signs and markings.
But I also combined this very intellectual reminder with images which spurred me to study. I visualised myself driving not just competently but also feeling relaxed, safe in the knowledge that I mastered the Highway Code.
In addition to imagining what it would be like to drive well, I also had pictures in my mind of what I wanted to avoid, like crashing and hurting myself, or hurting someone else, or being detained by the police, or embarrassing my parents!
If I hadn’t stayed connected in my gut to my goal, I think it would have taken me ages to pass my driving test!
- Remaining Confident.
Through the boring hours of studying all the rules and signs, I kept my confidence up by recalling that I had a well-trained memory which I had relied on to pass much more arduous exams. All of you will recall having to memorise pages of history books, absorbing complex and learning new languages!
In that way, even when I sometimes confused this sign with this other one, I kept myself together. I didn’t worry needlessly and just plodded on. Being confident allowed me not to disturb myself with anxiety, not to lose time with unproductive thoughts and thus to get through the learning without too much pain.
- Retaining Control.
Finally, the control part. It was up to me and me alone. But I could still get sick on the day of the exam, or I could worry all night and feel too rough the next morning to perform well, or I could simply draw a blank when given the exam paper. This is what I call the ‘what if’s’ of worry and they can make you lose control easily.
Control is about the influence you can reasonably expect to have over reality. So if you worry, just elaborate a contingency plan and move on. In my case, I avoided catching a chill, I took a sleeping pill and… I just crossed my fingers that my brain would function on D-day!
Control is also in your head – about how you feel about your ability to do something (and therefore it is different from how factually capable you are). Control is about realistically believing in yourself. So what got me my driving license was, in the end, my belief in passing the darn test – mind-numbing theory included!
Did this example remind you of your own experience when you took your driving test? And was it helpful in showing you how staying Connected to your objectives, remaining Confident and retaining Control will maximise your chances of success, save you time, stop you worrying needlessly, focus your attention and mobilise your energy?
In closing, let me flag that staying “in the zone” will not always be easy. Things will get in the way but I will share with you how to cope with setbacks and slippages, to help you get back on the horse and achieve your goals in spite of the difficulties you may encounter.
Let me know what you thought about this post by leaving a comment (see above). Or, if you’d like that better, don’t hesitate to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions!