If we told you we knew the secret to getting the life of your dreams, would you want to hear it?
Of course you would.
Although you might not want to act on it.
Because it requires effort.
And a commitment to consistent personal development.
It means avoiding average, or second best.
And that’s because the solution is this:
Turning up as the best version of yourself, every single day.
This is not as daunting as it might first seem…
Because when you realise that being the best version of yourself is the path to get to where you want to go, it suddenly becomes more exciting than overwhelming.
And as with any exciting journey, its best to start by thinking of the destination.
So, try closing your eyes for a few moments and envisaging yourself having the most perfect work day possible.
What are your working hours? How do you fill each one? What’s your job title? What are your duties? What is the impact your work has on others? How are you regarded within your industry? What is your salary? What is the very best thing that you get to do? What is the impact on your life as a whole?
Keep going until you’re so excited about your destination that you feel butterflies. Visualising your goals like this is daydreaming with a purpose. It gives you a clear goal to work towards as you break down the journey into smaller milestones.
Using SMART metrics to set these smaller goals is an effective way to turn your goals into action, and long-practised in the business world. To illustrate how SMART goals work let’s imagine you’ve completed the exercise above, and decided that your dream destination is to be the best salesperson in your industry.
Specific – what, exactly, do you want to achieve? This is where you concentrate on the immediate future. For example, you might want to be the best performing graduate in your sales department.
Measurable – use numbers as much as you can! Don’t just say you want to achieve more sales. Say you want to increase your sales by 25%.
Achievable – (can you do it?) the goal must feel like something you can reasonably expect to accomplish, given your time, effort, skills, and determination.
Realistic – (will the world let you?) make sure it is realistic! If you only joined last month, and your colleagues have been doing it for years, assess the realistic probabilities and stick to them.
Timed – there must be a deadline! Plans without a deadline are just dreams, so you’re not just aiming to be the best graduate in the sales department, you’re going to be the best graduate in the sales department by Christmas.
The next step is the possibly scary (brave) bit…
You tell your boss about the goal and what you plan to do to get there.
Because even once you have clarity on your SMART metrics, they don’t add up to anything unless you act on them. Telling your boss will make you much more likely to stick to your plan, and it will also impress them. Here is a graduate so responsible, enthusiastic, and driven that they are setting their own targets and asking to be held accountable to them!
Once you’ve triumphed in the workplace you may want live SMART in other aspects of your life. After all, the key to overall wellbeing is to make your personal life as fulfilling as your career.
Begin by working out what matters most to you right now. It could be friendships, romantic relationships, home, physical or mental health, creative output, or grass-roots campaigning.
Then create some SMART goals. To begin with it might feel a bit odd to treat your personal life as you would your ‘day-job’. But doing so with the same sense of purpose will help you gain both clarity and a sense of control, and who wouldn’t want that?
And you’re allowed to have some fun with it too! For example, you could commit to going for two dates a week for the next eight weeks. Or joining five different Facebook groups who are connected with a political or cultural cause that you’re interested in. Or joining an exercise class to meet new neighbours and grow your network.
But please don’t exhaust yourself too early! Instead of spreading yourself thin across a lot of areas, maybe just pick one at a time, and give it your whole attention. Because when it comes to showing up as the best version of yourself, the process should be really enjoyable, and always sustainable, and so move you happily towards the life of your dreams.