(Podcast of this blog is Here)
This week I am talking about time and the use of 'goals' to balance that all-elusive work-life balance.
We all know we rarely have a healthy work-life balance these days, and many people try lots of ways to improve theirs, including using techniques such as setting SMART goals.
Now, SMART goals are those which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound, which when got right are a great way to get real focus on the best and most important things in life......
.....it is very important to understand each element of the acronym, especially the S (Specific) definition, and to fully understand the outcome you are actually trying to acheive.
When defining the Specific details of your goal, you MUST consider not just yourself, but also everyone who will be affected by your actions, and make sure you are very clear on how they understand or interpret what you are saying and promising to try to achieve.
A perfect example of this not being fully considered comes from a conversation I had whilst having a casual dinner recently, when one of the guests was telling me how they had set a 'goal' of "leaving the office at 5pm every day" so they could be at home earlier than they currently manage every day.
I noticed whilst they were speaking, that they were leaking information telling me they did not entirely believe what they were saying, and were clearly not as happy as I would expect them to be with this extra home time, so I asked how that goal was working out?
They said "O-kay" with a strained smile, so I asked them what the purpose of that goal had been when they made it, and they replied "well, to spend more time with my family, of course".
When I pressed them a bit more about what they had said to their family about their goal, and then about how many times they had 'failed' to leave at 5pm, it began to dawn on them that not only was the goal 'Unrealistic', because there will inevitably be days when it will not be possible to leave at 5pm, but also that they had unwittingly set expectations in the minds of their family members, which would not actually always be achievable, so they had set themselves up to fail occasionally and thus to disappoint their family occasionally also.
I also asked how many times when they HAD left at 5pm, had they 'taken their work home', either literally by carrying on working from home, or mentally by not being 'present' at home other than physically? "Quite a few" was the sad answer.
On this realization, I sat with them and walked them through determining what the real result they were trying to achieve was, which was to spend more TIME with their loved ones, and that setting a realistic and achievable goal of 'trying to leave work earlier more often' would be more effective.
I pointed out that it is equally, if not more important, to explain to them that for those days when they DID get home early, they would be present fully in mind and spirit, so that they would also accept it would not always work out that they left early, but would not feel let down by a failed promise, and that they could look forward to REALLY having them home early when they did manage it, and not just watch them head off to the study or a table to carry on working, or even worse, sit by them completely disengaged through being pre-occupied with their mind still being 'at work'.
SMART goals are fantastic and a powerful tool but they MUST be understood and created correctly, otherwise they can cause more harm than good.
I provide a short masterclass on SMART goals both for corporate and home life, so drop me a line if you are interested in attending one either in person or online, or talk to me about a personal class on this subject.
That's all for this week, so as always:
Live Life, don't Watch Life.