Keep it Simple and S.M.A.R.T.

Continuing our theme of action planning in order to make the most of the remaining three months of the year, I wanted to explore the concept of using S.M.A.R.T. objectives for action planning. Read my end of year action planning blog Welcome October 

S.M.A.R.T. It’s one of those acronyms that is often referred to in articles and workshops about action planning, but what does it mean in practice? My aim with 13 Rhythms is to always make the content of my workshops, blogs and coaching sessions as clear as possible, demystifying commonly used phrases or concepts, without making assumptions about what someone may or may not know, just because I may be well versed in it. It’s all too easy when one works in a sector or industry to forget that there is information we are familiar with that isn’t so transparent to others.

Starting at the beginning – why do we use S.M.A.R.T?

Using the S.M.A.R.T. method is about creating objectives and goals that are clear in their intention and desired result. The clarity of how you communicate your goals to yourself, a coach, accountability partner or mentor, means that you have a clear idea of the actions you’ll need to take to achieve each goal. Using the S.M.A.R.T. framework is about articulating your goals in a way that means you are able to work towards them with focused direction.

So in the spirit of K.I.S.S. (“Keep it simple, stupid!”) I wanted to break down what it means to be S.M.A.R.T. in setting objectives and action planning.

felipe-furtado-678938-unsplash

So what is a S.M.A.R.T. objective? Let’s use the example of someone wanting to secure a new job, at a more senior level to the one they have now. How could they create a S.M.A.R.T. objective?

S is for SPECIFIC 

“I want a new job.” vs “I want a management role in the marketing sector.”

The more specific your goal, the clearer the message to your brain about what you’ll need to do to achieve it.

M is for MEASURABLE 

“I want to search for vacancies.” vs “I want to submit five application forms.”

Give your goal a definite point at which the goal is achieved. This action appears to do this. However, there are other elements that we can add to these goals to make them even more compelling. Let’s keep going.

A is for ACHIEVABLE

“I want a new job by next Monday.” vs “I want to be in a new job by March 2019.”

Whilst the first goal would be great to achieve, it’s impossible no matter how great a candidate you are! Logistics around job search and recruitment processes means that there will always be an amount of time that needs to pass before one can start a new role. Whilst it may be possible for the process to take place quite quickly, in creating your goal it makes sense to give yourself an achievable timeline.

In setting a goal for a new job, you might want to allocate up to three months – a month from submitting applications to interviews, then a minimum of one month as a notice period, then at least three weeks from an offer being made to an actual start date. It can happen sooner, but this is a realistic and achievable minimum. I’ve gone from submitting an application form to starting a new role in six weeks, but those were very specific circumstances, so it would be unwise for me to plan to this timeline in the future. I’d recommend that you give yourself a realistic time-frame to meet your goals too. 

To ensure your goal is structured in an achievable way, give yourself time to complete all of the necessary tasks that build towards achieving your objective. Crafting your goal is about articulating what you want to achieve in a tangible way, not setting yourself up to fail by giving yourself goals that are unrealistic. Which leads us to…

R is for REALISTIC

“I want a new job at NASA.” vs “I want a new job as a marketing manager.”

Unless you have experience in astronautical sciences…this one speaks for itself! Your goal should be based in your capabilities, with some stretch, not unobtainable pipe-dreams. Assuming you have work experience in marketing and have the skills and qualifications that are sought in marketing manager candidates, securing a new role as a marketing manager is a realistic option.

T is for TIMEBOUND

“I want a new job.” vs “I want a new job by March 2019.”

Giving yourself a deadline is going to structure your goal setting and your action planning and will give you a method of accountability. If you set yourself a goal with an unending time-frame there is little motivation, little urgency and little challenge to your mindset to make something happen. The time you give yourself to achieve your goal should be set within realistic – there’s that word again – time-frames.

marten-bjork-623843-unsplash

So using S.M.A.R.T. as the principle for action planning, how do we craft an objective that meets its parameters?

We go from “I want a new job.”

to:

“I want to secure a new role as a Senior Marketing Manager, in a creative firm in Central London, managing a team of five or less, with a minimum salary of £35,000, starting by 31st March 2019.”

This new objective gives you all the specifics that should be featured in a S.M.A.R.T. goal. It is specific in its intention, is clear in what will have happened when you achieve the goal, and requires you to be challenged to work hard towards your goal through the use of a time-bound deadline.

As we look towards the end of 2018, let’s focus on articulating your objectives using S.M.A.R.T. in order for you to plan and implement your actions towards your chosen goal.

All the best to your goal setting! 

Thank you for reading. If you would like to speak about creating and implementing your own dynamic action plan for your career and business development goals, schedule a no-obligation, complimentary Explore call with me here: Speak to 13 Rhythms

Natalie

Natalie  Freeman

13rhythms.com

 

Advertisements

Welcome October!

Welcome to October 1st.

This date marks the start of the final quarter of 2018. For many of us this date signals a slight panic, a bit of worry and comments about how “Time is running away!” or “Where has the year gone?” and of course, “It’s nearly Christmas!”

Not everyone works to the calendar year in their business or career planning, preferring to focus on the financial year, or the date of their incorporation, or the date their accountant tells them to; still others use the academic year based on the nature of their business or job. A “year” can start and end whenever works for you.

However, the final quarter of the calendar year can be a fantastic motivating factor which encourages planning, which in turn helps to ensure we end the year on a high, focusing on the specific goals that we would like to achieve before the end of 2018, and moving into 2019 with a clarity of focus and purpose. 

I’d like to share some ideas on how you can end 2018 on a high, create dynamic action plans that ensure you move into 2019 with confidence and enthusiasm, whilst focusing on achieving our sales, marketing, travel, lifestyle, career, earnings, promotion etc goals. 

Continue reading “Welcome October!”

Collaboration…

Be observant.

Identify partners.

Listen to them.

Share your goals and plans.

Clarify your thinking.

Introduce your minds.

Establish your collective goal.

Identify your action plan.

Allocate roles.

Implement and deliver.

Graft.

Enjoy!

Grow through the challenge.

Review and evaluate.

Measure results.

Forge your relationships.

Swell your networks.

Build your foundations.

Be a support.

Give of your best.

Demonstrate excellence.

Repeat…

Synchronicity

Last week I spent some time in the company of someone new to me.

As our time progressed a few things transpired that inspired this blog.

A third person joined us. They and I found we had a few things in common –  primarily some of my previous travelling experience,  and we spent a great amount of time laughing, sharing stories, reminiscing and in many ways forming a “connection” in the way that happens when you find someone that knows some of the same things you know, in a place where you wouldn’t expect to find that level of shared knowledge, and particularly not with someone so close to someone that is now in your orbit…Sync Level 1.

During the conversation they mentioned their interest in starting their own business and I gently sold my services. Sync Level 2 and this provided Lesson One – throughout our conversation and as we shared more and more information they said “I like you. Yes, I want to meet with you to discuss my business.” It’s this feeling of “likeability” that is so important in our businesses as we serve the aspirations of others. People share with us one of their most precious desires – their business idea, details about what motivates them to start or continue to pursue a goal, and who wants to do that with someone they don’t  “take to”? My likeability is of course subjective, and it isn’t an indication of the quality of my advice or the effectiveness of my work in developing the businesses of others, but it certainly forms part of our decision making when deciding who we wish to work with, or not.

Our three-way conversation continued and I mentioned some work I had done previously. We realised that we all shared similar frustrations in working on funded projects that ended, often abruptly, when the organisations we were engaged with decided to end financially supporting the innovative and entrepreneurial work we had delivered. Sync Level 3.

Then it happened.

We all realised that we had worked in the exact same field, in different capacities, different countries and for different periods of time, but there it was – our shared interest, shared expertise and most importantly our shared desire to continue the work – in front of us all in a way that was completely unexpected. Consider that the background to our conversation was completely unrelated; that person A and I had never spoken of this aspect of our careers before and this was the first time meeting the person B.

Excitement overcame me as I looked at the potential of the opportunities in front of me -and now I saw in these two new allies, collaborators, business partners, supporters – all of these roles and everything in-between.

To labour the point, because at this stage you might think it’s as momentous as I might be making it out to be: I don’t mean that we just worked in project management at some stage in our careers; the link is that we’ve worked on the same types of projects, same target audience, exact same subject area, with a shared geographical interest in the UK and internationally – of all the countries in the world, our link was to one that I definitely see in my future. I mean that level of synchronicity, Sync Level Bonus 1,215,332!

As always in our business lives, its not the incident that is relevant, but the action that is taken afterwards. Emails have already been sent, and I’m sincerely looking forward to the follow-up meetings and planning that will happen to take our individual ideas forward, now as a collective. Often the world of self-employment can be quite isolated, so whilst I work in supporting other people all the time, I’m always excited about working with others on my own pursuits and projects.

I like these two, too.

So, what’s lesson two? Maybe it’s something about being an active listener. Maybe it’s something about asking the right type of investigative questions. Perhaps it’s something about openness and being interested in others. Maybe there’s no lesson here other than to recognise that sometimes the universe aligns and presents us with what we need, and that it’s up to us to materialise these gifts into what we want.

Maybe it’s all or none of these things.

 

“Not another generic NYE message?”

Tomorrow, 31st December is New Year’s Eve, also known as Old Year’s Night. In fact we are subject to lots of “year endings” and new year starts. There’s the Gregorian calendar year end of 31st December of course. In the UK the financial year ends on the 31st March, and on the 5th April for those who are self-employed and who manage their own tax affairs.

Then there’s the “new year” that is our birthday – the beginning of another journey around the Sun. For those in the Islamic world and  for its adherents across the globe their lunar calendar sees the new year beginning on the 1st day of the month Muharram, on the equivalent date 22nd September 2017 in the Gregorian calendar. In the East African country of Ethiopia, the first day of the New Year is marked on Meskerem 1 on their calendar,  on the Gregorian calendar equivalent date of 11 September.

Across the globe the New Year is calculated by various methods including observing lunar months, by measuring movements of celestial bodies and observance of traditional festivals amongst others.

moon-phases

I mention this on the eve of New Year’s Eve as this time of the year is packed with many of us making commitments to make changes. We start off with great intentions planning to  adjust our diet, up our fitness level, implement career changes,  organise our finances, improve our relationships and promise to read more. Reading more is always on the list…! New Year’s resolutions are excellent. They provide focus, give us something to aim for and structure our plans. Taking time out to set new year’s resolutions is admirable, and sharing them with others is excellent with regards to accountability. Having someone other than ourselves hold us to our plans can be a great way to ensure that we stay on track.

Calendar with pushpins

If we happen to falter, some of us have a tendency to lack generosity towards our failings and we treat ourselves with disdain if we don’t keep up our plans into January, February and beyond. It’s all too easy to feel like a failure if we lose our way and fall off the wagon – or fail to get through the 75 books we promised ourselves we would finish by March…

But look! Look at how many “new years” there are. If we don’t stay on track there’s no need to wait until the next January. Life is beautiful in that it gives us endless options -the shift in mindset is the secret, not a date on a calendar. Set your own new year and create as many as you need to, just like the world has…and keep going…

Good luck…and Happy New Year for whenever you celebrate it!

 

“13 on the 13th”

Tuesday is 13 blog day and today is an extra-special Tuesday as it’s the 13th December. To mark the occasion I’m launching the new series “13 on the 13th”. This will be a hotlist of thirteen facts, tips or hacks related to an area of business or career development.  To kick off the series, today’s “13 on the 13th” will feature facts about me, Natalie, and 13 Rhythms, my service. Part of my increasing visibility about 13 Rhythms, will include people getting to know a little bit more about me. However, as I find talking about myself difficult, I asked for feedback from others – something that they associate with me. I’ve not censored their words, but did say it was for this blog so it’s all PG rated!  I’ve included some of my own comments too.

So. Let’s begin.

1. 13 Rhythms was born on Friday, 13th September, 2013. The idea that something positive and life changing could manifest itself on a date associated with bad luck and unhappy events, led to the name and the mission behind what I do – delivering services that focus on changing perspectives and removing limiting beliefs – beliefs from unknown origins which don’t serve our goals and aspirations.

2. My favourite quote is “Think. Act. Be.” mainly because it was my colleague, now friend, Hanson and my intern Lazza who came up with it and then painted it on the wall in our office.

3. I love giving people nicknames. If you have one from me, you’ll know this to be true!

4. “I remember your love for avocado and Freeze-Its.” Ice poles by another name on another continent.

5. Zimbabwe changed my life.

6. “Mama Nat can’t do tech!” This always makes me laugh! Oh and that’s one of many nicknames I’ve been given. Apparently I’m not very good with computers. This is only partially true. Kinda…

7. “Your love for wandering is what got us connected. Your wandering, dancing feet.” and “You like dancing Kizomba and crazy high heels.” I’m cheating here putting two together. I’m going to add that I have a wish/dream/aim to dance Salsa in Cuba. Serious cheating!

8.  My favourite colour is hot pink, time of day – sunset and season – summer.

9. “You have a great sense of humour and are the queen of one liners.”

10. “Freeman is direct and to the point after absorbing what’s going on.””You have a great grasp of a lot of topics and give great conversation.” “Natalie has acute attention to detail.” I grouped these together because they are so similar, even though they are from three different people who all know me but not each other.

11. I’ve never broken a bone.

12. I love cooking outdoors – meat, fish and vegetables on a BBQ makes me happy. Always.

13. “Everyone you come into contact with leaves in a better mood than before.” So this one made me cry – I am taken by sentiment (fact 13.5!) but it’s the meaning behind the words that gets me.


So that’s it. It is of course difficult to know what to share about ourselves, when and for what purpose. The lesson I’m learning more and more is the need for visibility of the business owner, in our people-centred services. No list is exhaustive but it can be useful to give others something personal about us that they can connect to.

So with the purpose of this blog being “visibility” the real breakthrough for me will be when I share these “13 on the 13th” lists via video…and I have a whole month to practice.

Wish me luck!

Acknowledgements: With huge, warm thanks and gratitude to WBPOWE, EK, KN, YA, DB, CH, CM and special thanks to LH for all the reasons you know in relation to 13. Thank you. All photographs taken by and owned  by me.

 

Is it you, or you?

Last week I observed an interesting exchange on a contact’s Facebook page. It became quite an argument with some fairly ugly and controversial opinions being expressed. I read the thread not only for the comments and their content, but from a business perspective.

The thread was one of many that we see shared on our various social media platforms, all day, every day. It was a combination of various opinions being shared and discussed, all originating from a fairly innocuous original post. What interested me was the way that an opinion being expressed by a business owner can be twisted into something else altogether, and the negative impact that can have on their business, their reputation and ultimately their financial bottom line.

It led me to reflect on who are we as business owners when we “speak” on social media? Are we our individual selves or are we our brand? Is it possible to ask readers to see the difference between “Natalie” and “13 Rhythms”? Is it even a reasonable expectation?

With the use of social media being such a strong marketing tool for so many of our businesses, our network has the potential for global reach, which is a great thing. It also means that our visibility is magnified and that means that the things we say and do have an audience. It means that we always have to be thinking about the opinion that we share online – it’s important to remember that even if an online discussion group, or a “private” Facebook page feels “intimate” it isn’t in any way. Even if you have a business page, your personal page will often be fuelling it. This means that our digital footprint follows us everywhere online.

padock
The thread that inspired this blog ended with people talking about taking their money elsewhere with comments relating to stopping patronising the poster’s business. What was interesting was that the offending comments weren’t made by the poster, they merely pressed a “like” on a comment that others took offence to. This was both interesting and scary to observe.

So I ask, is it you, or you? As a business owner, it seems that there is only one “you” – the choice is ours in regards to what we want to share, post and respond to in our online lives and we’re taking calculated risks with the impact it may have.

Let’s choose wisely…