Let’s unpack those three questions from last time. When it comes to setting our intentions and related goals –remember, not New Year's resolutions, but goals-- I like to share a framework that I discovered a few years ago. Now, if you're in the profession of any industry, everyone's heard of goals, and most people have heard of SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. How many people are aware of AIM smart goals?
AIM is an acronym for Acceptable, Ideal, and Middle and it forces you to think of goal attainment in terms of stages. What's your acceptable outcome for a goal? What would be your ideal outcome for a goal? And what's the middle ground that allows you to recognize that, although I'm not quite there yet, I'm not as far off as I was when I first started?
Here's the thing about goals. I have found that too often in business, we tend to set all-or-nothing goals. And as individuals we do the same. After two years of stress-eating as we coped with a pandemic that is determined to hang around, on top of finishing up a holiday season of eating and throwing caution to the wind, some of us may be feeling the need to lose a few pounds.
The usual goal is 20, otherwise we don’t feel successful. Well, how about those first two pounds that lead to the 20? Those would be acceptable, right? Or how about when you hit that 10-pound milestone? That’s the middle and you’re halfway there. Or when you finally do hit those 20? That’s the ideal. Unless we celebrate those acceptable and middle markers along the way, we do ourselves a great disservice in terms of not allowing ourselves to experience goal attainment in increments vs. the all-or-nothing achievement.
Let’s look at this using another analogy. Remember, the A is acceptable, the I is ideal and the M is middle. We've heard the saying --and I saw it on a poster not too long ago—that if you shoot for the moon and land among the stars, you're still on high ground. And that's so true.
When we reframe shooting for the moon and landing among the stars as an AIM SMART goal, the acceptable would be moving from the blue atmosphere to the black atmosphere. Clearly, you've made some progress. The ideal of course, would be to land on the moon, and the middle is falling among the stars. And when I was sharing this notion with a recent group, one of the members said “Well, how come it's got to be the moon? Why can't it be Mars?”
That perspective takes us back to something I said earlier about evaluating our goals to see if it’s even the right thing. And then she said, “Well, what if we land among the stars? Can we take a shuttle to the moon?” That would be exploring the question, is this the right thing for me?
And then she said, “Why does it even have to be the moon?” Which begs the next question, “Is this the right thing for me right now?”
Sometimes we may need to hang out among the stars for a while to figure out if landing on the moon is really the goal, and if not now, when, and what can we accomplish among the stars that might better prepare us to land on the moon when the time is right?