Be Courageous in 2020 not SMART

Personal development always gets a boost with the dawn of a new year as we focus on the possible achievements of our next chapter in life.

Promotions to push for….

…. knowledge we are seeking….

…….. skills to master….

………….holidays to plan……

…and then if we are organised enough, we jot them down into a development plan to hold ourselves to account at the end of the year.

How will you set your goals? What format will they take?

Ever since my days at Sun Microsystems, I have always been coached into setting SMART goals.

  • > Specific
  • > Measureable
  • > Achievable
  • > Relevant
  • > Time Bound

That’s relatively easy for me. Being a detail person, I like to know what specifically I am aiming for, and by when.

I am also drawn to achievable to build momentum and not be disappointed at the end of the year.

So, I’ve always supported the SMART approach, but maybe we shouldn’t support it exclusively — particularly for development plans.

I’ve just finished reading John Blakey and Ian Day’s — Challenging Coaching where they explore the idea of COURAGEOUS thinking in relation to goals.

If you are a do-er by nature, you like to be able to tick things off your list. With the SMART approach the temptation would be to set simple goals… realistic achievements… to ensure you get a ‘tick’ at the end of the year.

But what are you missing in the process?

Could you have aimed higher?

Are other opportunities presenting themselves?

Do you brush them off, in your quest for a very satisfying ‘check mark’?

This becomes even more pertinent when it comes to the technology sector, where the world changes so quickly. The goals in January might be out of date by June.

Most people also believe there can only be limited growth available if you are in your comfort zone. How comfortable are the goals?

So here are some tips for being more COURAGEOUS?


Your development plan MUST be a living document

Don’t make your development plan or goal setting for the year another tick box exercise.

You must revisit your goals yourself…and regularly.

Grab a cup of tea and settle down for a moment of indulgence with your dreams.

What are you missing? What’s new you could add?

Do you still get excited by the plan?

Are the goals really what you want to achieve?

How often? — a minimum of an hour a month.


Brainstorm your plan, don’t just write it

Development plans should be brainstormed regularly, with others, to get new ideas and input.

It’s good to have your goals reviewed and use curious colleagues, peers and external help, to question your motives and goals.

Perhaps they can help you see opportunities you didn’t see before.

Or subtly let you know you could aim for bigger, bolder goals.


Goals should include ‘the why and how’ not just the ‘what’

Write down the why in your goals and how you would like to achieve them — this is so important.

By describing the environment in which you would thrive around a particular goal — will make it easier to match new opportunities to your goals when they come along.

For example, you have a goal to become a manager because [your why…] you love to see people thrive and grow.

If you have an opportunity to lead a development task force — would you take it? You’d get the thrive and grow, without some of the other duties? Worth considering this new and different path?

A simple example but demonstrates maybe other paths might come your way.

Being flexible also helps to not get disappointed when the exact opportunity we envisaged is not on the table. Perhaps another path is a better one in the end?


Keep looking for inspiration

Finally, keep looking for inspiration.

Talk to people. Meet new contacts. Explore new development ideas.

No one has all of the answers. Collectively, our knowledge increases.

Share your goals and garner ideas to ensure you keep your goals as fresh and inspiring as possible.

And most of all. Be bold in 2020.

Be Courageous.

There are many bright stars to look at on the way to the Moon — don’t miss the view and new opportunities along the way.