“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.” – Orison Swett Marden
If you have done any research into goal setting, you will have heard of the SMART goal setting system. In case, you haven’t, SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound, being the characteristics of an ideal goal should embody, according to its proponents.
The SMART acronym first appeared in an article written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in 1981 and became popular with business leaders, behavioural scientists, motivational speakers, and coaches.
Over time, the terms assigned to each letter changed as people adapted the acronym to focus on specific areas of goal achievement. Some made it more corporate-focused, while others adapted it to favour teams. It was even extended to SMARTER at one point with the addition of two letters.
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The Dawning of the Age of the Acronyms
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Ziglar
The idea of an acronym representing the attributes of a worthwhile, well-formed goal took hold and several others appeared, including GROW, CLEAR, and FAST. They all share one or two characteristics with the SMART pattern but also contain unique characteristics according to their purpose.
The GROW pattern focuses on how the goal setter gets from where they are to their goal. Adam Kreek’s CLEAR paradigm is focused, instead, on collaboration and dividing a goal into manageable chunks. Finally, FAST goals focus more on the characteristics of a goal itself.
While each of these systems has its proponents, none is perfect and upon closer inspection, at least one major weakness can be identified in each paradigm, a gap where a crucial aspect of an effective goal is missing.
What Does an Ideal Goal Look Like?
But what characteristics should a goal exhibit?
Looking at prevailing opinions, a goal should at least comply with the following requirements.
It should be specific. This means that it should contain enough detail for the goal setter to know exactly what actions need to be taken to achieve the goal.
It should be time-bound. In other words, there must be a deadline by which the goal is achieved.
It should be possible to track progress towards the goal.
The goal should be challenging. Studies show that people achieve more when challenged.
The accomplishment of the goal must be important to the goal setter.
The goal should be divisible (i.e. it can be broken up) to make it easier to complete.
There should be an element of accountability and/or collaboration in the achievement of (or failure to achieve) the goal.
These characteristics are found in many of the previously mentioned goal-setting paradigms in different combinations, but none contains all of them.
Not Only Planning but ACTION Too
“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” – Pablo Picasso
One of the big problems with goal planning is just that: it’s only planning. Planning is all good and well but for a goal to mean anything, the action taken to achieve it is just as – or even more – important than the planning.
That’s not to discount the importance of planning. After all, it allows a goal setter to properly prepare for the achievement of their goal.
However, once the planning has been completed, the previously mentioned goal systems pretty much abandon you to your own devices, or to the whims of your coach or instructor if you are lucky enough to have one.
Enter GREATER² – SMART Goal Setting Done Right
However, there’s a new acronym in town: GREATER2, which is a worthy replacement for the SMART goal setting system.
It rests firmly on the best elements of those time-tested, established systems mentioned above, aiming to compensate for the weaknesses of each to create a well-rounded, balanced and robust new goal achievement framework.
However, beyond the focus on the planning stage, the GREATER2 system dedicates substantial attention to supporting the goal-setter in taking the action required to achieve their goal. It does this using well-established techniques borrowed from other allied disciplines including those of motivation and time management.
Characteristics of a GREATER² Goal
So, let’s take a look at what the GREATER² acronym stands for.
G stands for “Gaugeable” meaning that progress to the goal can be measured. To be gaugable, the goal must, by implication, be specific and precise, so those characteristics are included as well.
R stands for “Reminders” referring to the use of reminder cues to maintain motivation and focus.
E stands for “Emotion” indicating that the goal setter must be emotionally invested in the achievement of the goal. The goal must mean something to them or else they will not be driven to complete it.
A stands for “Accountability” referring to the goal setter being accountable to someone (or a group of people) for the completion of their goal.
T stands for “Take Apart” alluding to the goal needing to be broken up into a series of mini-goals (which are called “Step Goals”).
E stands for “Exigent”, meaning “ambitious” or “challenging”, and indicating that the goal should not be easy to achieve.
R stands for “Rewards” referring to the goal setter determining what incentives will be applied to the successful achievement of specific goal-related actions or outcomes.
R stands for “Resources” representing the determination of the goal setter’s goal-related “assets and liabilities” prior to them beginning their campaign to achieve their goal.
By the way, the “2” has been used instead of two “R”s at the end of the acronym (as in “R” squared) simply because it looks better.
The process of reaching a goal can be divided into three broad phases; a planning phase, a preparation phase, and an action phase.
Each of the characteristics of the GREATER² system can be assigned to one of these three phases, in so doing creating a sequence that will carry the goal-setter from the planning to the attainment of the goal. We can assign the characteristics of the GREATER2 system to the three phases as follows.
The Gaugable, Exigent and Emotion characteristics are assigned to the Planning Phase. These three lenses help the goal setter focus on the nature and true essence of the goal as well as whether or not the goal is worth pursuing.
The Take Apart characteristic is also included in this phase. This essential component enables the goal setter to divide the process of reaching their goal (the “Goal Path”) into manageable steps (“Step Goals”), translating into the ability to focus on each immediate and far more achievable step goal rather than having to keep their attention locked upon the remote and far more imposing ultimate goal (i.e. the goal that the goal setter is ultimately striving to achieve). Consequently, there is a higher chance of success and a greater sense of achievement for the goal setter.
The Preparation phase involves acting on the Resources and Accountability characteristics.
Through the Resources characteristic, the goal setter will prepare for the attempt to achieve their goal by making sure that they have the skills, relationships, and equipment they will need to do so, as well as being prepared to face any obstacles that may impede their progress.
Accountability to others adds a powerful driver to goal achievement, facilitating broad-based support for the goal setter as they strive to complete their undertakings.
Finally, the Action phase includes the Reminders and Rewards characteristics.
Reminders keep the goal setter motivated and focused on their immediate step goal, while Rewards incentivize the attainment of step goals, making it easier to maintain momentum towards the goal.
The Action Phase also relies on the establishment of an “Impulse Cycle” to generate momentum or relentless progress towards the goal. This cycle is the result of chaining motivation, routine (or habit) and perseverance to generate an “engine” that drives the goal setter towards their goal.
In a Nutshell
In a nutshell, the GREATER² Goal Achievement System consists of three steps and eight characteristics. However, this simplicity belies the power of the system when you delve into its “nuts and bolts”.
The GREATER2 Goal Achievement System is robust enough to offer a viable, realistic solution to virtually anyone wanting to achieve a goal, no matter their circumstances while being malleable enough to facilitate the adaption of its characteristics to enhancing the goal-setter’s strengths and at the same time, addressing their weaknesses.
A goal is one of those things that we all know the value of. It’s something we know to be a powerful success “force multiplier”. It’s something that we have all tried to achieve. And yet, according to statistics (admittedly, there aren’t too many of those relating to goals), fewer than 10% of us achieve the goals we set.
Why? Goal setting is free. It’s often easier than it seems, once the groundwork has been done and you “get into the groove”. And yet, many of us don’t do it.
If you have a goal that you have always wanted to achieve – an ambitious, daring goal – perhaps now is the time to take it on. Don’t settle for being what you are. Strive to be GREATER!
If you would like to discover more about the GREATER² Goal Achievement System, feel free to visit goalinator.com/book, where you can find out more about the “GREATER2 Goal Achievement System” book and additional FREE resources.