If you’re a helping professional, chances are high that you struggle with helping your clients set and achieve meaningful goals.
There are a lot of reasons for this (including the First Problem, which we’ve written about previously), but chief among them is that it’s just a really hard process. Taking this big thing called “life”, and trying to break it down into bite-sized and manageable tasks and activities is hard at the best of times, let alone when we’re struggling with some really stressful circumstances!
Of course, goals are essential for making progress towards a desired future, whether that’s a skinnier/happier/wealthier/smarter/whatever version of yourself, or a specific experience like “taking that holiday to Hawaii”. Or, if you’re helping people struggling with #addiction or #mentalhealth issues, feeling better, using less and engaging with the world around them in a meaningful way.
On the other hand, setting a goal means that you’re not OK just as you are. That happiness, fulfillment and meaning await you once you’ve finally gotten from A to B. A goal can be a constant reminder of failure and incompleteness. Mountains of research are piling up about the importance of mindfulness, presence, acceptance, gratitude…the internal states that truly bring meaning to our lives and have a difficult time sitting neatly beside “growth and goals”.
You’ve probably heard of SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound). It’s about the most boring process for setting goals imaginable. It’s not that setting SMART goals doesn’t work (it does, for those who like spreadsheets and other cerebral things), it’s that they’re not that motivating and engaging for a lot of us (or our clients!).
Enter SMARRT, our goal-setting criteria to make goals more meaningful.
- Strengths-based. We do what we’re good at. Identifying, building and leveraging strengths in the pursuit of goals is inherently motivating.
- Meaningful. Is connected to the things we need and value, what we care most about. Too many goals are extrinsic to our sense of meaning and purpose. Imposed by loved ones, employers and society. “Meaningful” means important…to you or the person you’re working with!
- Active. Involves “doing”. Is experiential in nature. Gets you off your butt and taking action, even tiny actions.
- Resourced. Has been allocated the time, energy, money required to complete. This means that you’ve accurately assessed what time, energy and money you have!
- Relational. Acknowledges and addresses the impact of the task/activity/goal on other people/dynamics in your life.
- Timely. Is time sensitive and scheduled appropriately.
There you have it, a SMARRTer approach to goal setting, designed to create more meaningful and engaging goals for you and your clients.
Grab our “Guide to Client-Centred Case Planning” below!