Episode 8: What Are ISMMAARRRT Goals?

Every path along the staircase to success is still one step that puts you further to the mountaintop.

Episode 8: What Are ISMMAARRRT Goals?

This is the final part of our 3-part series on goal setting. On this episode, David goes over his variant on SMART goals and how to use them to execute your goals.

Show Notes

Coming soon!

Show Transcript


Hello and welcome to another episode of The Buck Stops Here Business Podcast. As always, I’m your host, David Maples. And today, we’re talking about our third part in our series of goal setting.



If you have missed the previous two episodes, you can go find those on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or you can go to The Buck Stops Here Business Podcast dot com (Go to thebuckstopsherepodcast.com), and you can either see the video or listen to the audio there as well. In the first episode, we talked about, kind of, the BS of goal setting.



Why goal setting doesn’t work for people, and how to set it up on your own. In the second episode, we created a review of the different frameworks over, kind of, what kind of goals do you set and why. It gives you an idea of different, kind of, goals that you want to set in your life.



And this is the third kind of workshop-y- All right, so I’ve got my goals and I-SMART, so how do I execute these goals? So, this is the I-SMART episode or the Why SMART set your goals episode where we’re going to talk about setting smart goals for actionable results.



So, this is really, if you haven’t listened to the other two, that’s fine. If you just say, “Hey, I know what my goals are, I want to know how to set them and achieve them,” we’re going to be walking you through kind of a variation of the SMART goal setting framework that we have found works very, very well for most businesses or individuals.



So, if you’re new to this podcast or have just caught it, you may have run across this and decided that this is a business podcast. But, what you’re going to find is that there’s a lot in this podcast that talks about things that can help you in your personal life because you are part of your business. There’s no separating you from the business many times.



If you’re a small business owner, you may find that bleeds over into your personal life. We’ll have another episode where we talk about that, about setting clear divides between your work and your home life. And I believe that’s going to be useful for any business owner.



And for those of you who aren’t business owners yet, – maybe in the future, maybe not – but who are working at home, I think that will probably work. So, it will be good for you to have some tips and tricks and things that we have discovered and even consulted on with other people about how to help separate those two things. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the meat of this episode. So, the first thing we’re going to address is, kind of, what are SMART goals? So, traditionally, SMART goals – and if you haven’t seen them, if you’ve been to any business course before, or self-improvement course, or whatever it is, you probably heard people talk about that.



By the way, there are some contrary other ways of setting up goals out there on the Internet. As we say here on The Buck Stops Here podcast, your mileage might vary. Pick what works for you. As we like to say, sometimes life is a buffet. So, pick the stuff you like and put the stuff back you don’t, but make sure you eat your vegetables. There are things there that are important for you. So, when we look at these kind of things, when we talk about setting a framework or goal setting, it is helpful to have a framework. So, SMART goals traditionally are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented or time-bound, depending on what you believe.



We believe that that’s kind of an oversimplification, but we believe that it’s a good way to work for it. So, we’re going to go through what we call the I-SMART because you are a smart person, or the Why SMART goals.



And we’re going to talk about, kind of, how we change this framework a little bit, and then how do you use it? So, we’ll basically go through outlining what we think the things are that you really should be looking at in your goal setting beyond just the traditional SMART goal setting and give you some ways to handle that and move through it.



So, the first thing is- and why do we call them I-SMART goals, or Why SMART goals, depending on what you’re going to do it? Is when you set your goals, one of the biggest problems on your goal setting thing is you have to remember the reason why you’re doing them. Or the “I” in this is the inspiration behind doing this.



Now, you don’t always share this with other people, but the “Why” reason, generally speaking, has to be some kind of emotional tie-in. So, I’m going to use weight loss because that’s the goal that everybody knows. I can use weight loss and nutrition because everybody is familiar with those, and it’s either falling short on their results or something like that at some point in time. And why do you do this?



So, when you talk about your why or the inspiration behind it- so, you want to lose 25 lbs. You want to have a beach body, stomach, or whatever it is, right? Why are you doing that?



So, the answer would be, oh, it’ll make me healthier, I’ll be better. That could be your reason why. But for most people, that kind of pales in comparison. I, in my full-time day job, work for an advertising and marketing agency. And what we find is that lies don’t become us. At the end of the day, and the buck stops here, we think you have to accept responsibility for choices you have to make. But we also believe that means you have to be brutally honest with yourself.



So, at the end of the day, your reason why you’re doing that might be because I am trying to attract a mate. I want to look hot when I go to the beach. It could be vanity. It could be those kind of things. Why I want to do that. It could be that you get shortness of breath when you climb a set of stairs, and you don’t want to die from a heart attack, and you’re scared to death because your father died at 45 of a heart attack, and you’re 38, and you know, you have the same health problems your father had. You’re overweight, eat too much red meat, and you’ve got issues with that.



It’s because you’re afraid of death. By the way, most people don’t like death, and most people- I think Steve Jobs, in his Stanford commencement address, said, even people who are devoutly religious don’t want to die to get to heaven. So, for most of us, that’s the door we have to pass through at some point in time, but most of us would like to put that far off in the future. Totally okay. But, be very honest with your reason why.



If it’s because you’re short of breath, but your kids are now eight and ten years old, and they’re running around, and you want to be able to go run in the yard and play with them, that’s a pretty compelling reason to lose weight and get in shape.



It could be a variant on that. It could be because your dad died at 45, and he wasn’t there to dance with you at your wedding and to give you away and walk you down the aisle. You’d like to be there for your kids, to see them get married. So, be honest with yourself for the reason. And the more you can tie it in- there’s some social science backing this. They’ve determined that one of the most powerful things you can do – and this is neurochemistry and brain science we’re going to talk about just for a minute – is to tie these to strong emotional reasons. Because it turns out most of the reasons you do things, and you have trouble overcoming an addiction, you know, things like that, is because the part of your brain that does that is not the executive control function of your brain.



So, you’ve got different parts of your brain. You’ve got the prefrontal cortex, executive reason part of the brain. And you got this limbic system in your brain, the cerebellum, the brain stem. Different parts of your brain control different things. [Automatic] functions, like heartbeat and respiration, are generally controlled by the cerebellum and the brain stem. I’m oversimplifying this a bit, but in most cases, you can override it and control it yourself. But it turns out the limbic, or the reptilian, part of your brain, that’s been around from an evolutionary standpoint for millions of years, is like the 800-pound gorilla, and the prefrontal cortex of your brain, which has the ability to handle math and reason and executive control, is very weak in comparison.



And it’s one of the reasons why, at the end of the day, “Man, I really like a piece of chocolate cake. I just like to relax.” Those things that the reptilian part of your brain wants, calories, cravings, those kind of things, things that a lot of people would consider vices, is a much stronger portion of your brain. And for you to override that and hijack it, by necessity, has to have something that’s equally strong.



And it turns out, the reason you go with your gut is not because that’s a reasoned response. It’s because it’s a very emotional response that’s tied into the limbic system your brain. So, if I’m going to arm someone to go into the fight in that arena with an 800-pound gorilla- “Why don’t I want to work out today? Because I really love chocolate cake.”



You guys- everyone I’m talking to out there right now has fought this fight before, and, at many times, you have lost. It turns out that if you tie it to a strong emotional reason, and you do that, then you usually are able to combat this or combat them much more successfully.



If you go through the ten-point data list reason of why I’m going to do this thing, why I’m going to set these goals, “Well, it’s really important for me to lose the weight because I could look better on the scale, I could get things done in my life, I could do things.” Whatever.



You don’t care about this stuff. When you’re tired at night, and you’re worn out, it’s really, really hard to look at those things and say, “How am I going to really stick to my goals?”



So, I think a strong emotional tie-in and emotional reason is the best way to do this. Now, in the first two episodes, I did say your mileage may vary. I will give you guys some kind of axiomatic things. So, things I think you should make part of it. I think you need an emotional tie-in reason for a goal that is seriously important to you. Period. So, reach down and get one. You don’t have to share this with somebody else. You don’t have to say- Think about it.



I think about, like, people who, all the time, keeps an old pair of jeans around, and then they say, “I was able to wear these jeans in high school, and I can wear them now.” Now, it sounds silly, but you guys have all had a significant other or someone in your lives who’s said that. You’ve heard your mother say that at some point in time. “I’m able to wear these jeans again.”



Because your butt looked amazing in those jeans, and you realize that, right? There was something tied to that. That’s an emotional tie-in. You loved how it made you look or feel. By the way, there’s no judgment here. We’re all human. We’re all animals, and just separated from the rest of the animal kingdom, but by a twist of fate, in many cases. It’s okay. Don’t lie to yourself about it. Find an emotional tie-in, and realize your reasons are your own. You do not have to share that with other people.



But I guarantee you every one of you guys is able to slip into that- I’ve actually lost some weight over the past couple of years. And the fact that I’m able to slip into a smaller-sized suit that I had tailored for me years ago, I didn’t have it adjusted and taken out. Everything else was new and off the shelf. And I have an athletic suit I can wear now, and it feels really good. Yeah, that’s vanity, but I am human, and I’m not going to lie about that to you guys.



So, find an emotional tie-in. Make the why important. Now, I always put that upfront because I think a lot of people, when I used to say this was your SMARTY goals, I put that at the end. But I think that emotional tie-in, I spend a lot of time on it because it’s really out there.



The goal should be specific. That’s the S in the SMART; specific. Specific means you can say it to another person in about five seconds and say what it is. Specific is not; I’m going to lose weight. Specific is, I’m going to lose 15 pounds. I’m going to drop 6% of body fat. Something that I can make specific. And that takes us right to the next letter, which is M, which is measurable.



I need to be able to measure that somehow. It’s a yes, no. It’s a number. It’s numeric. Saying I’m going to move ahead- So, in the last section, we were talking about different rubrics and frameworks. That was career, family-oriented, whatever it is. Saying I’m going to spend extra time with my spouse is not specific.



There’s nothing to measure it against, right? What does that mean? You have to know what you’re going against. If you say, I’m going to have one date night a month. And by the way, to help your relationship right now, if you’re not having one date night a month, you need to analyze your life and figure out what’s important to you. Go do that. Just put that on the calendar. Surprise the person you love. By the way, love is probably one of the most important reasons you’re here at the end of your life.



So, go do that. Put that on there, and then it’s specific, and you can measure it. Decide what you’ve done. Make it something specific you can measure at some point in time. We’ll get to the T in a minute, but that has to do with time.



I do think with measurable, I also like to add another M to it. So just, I think a lot of these letters can get overloaded. Make it measurable, but also maybe write down your motivations. Motivations here. Now, motivations are other things that support your big goal. If your big goal is I want to be able to run around with my kids, or I want to be able to walk my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, or something like that.



So, remember that emotional tie-in. Your motivations are the other things that support it, right? Then maybe you can share with other people, because you do want to share your goals with other people. And you may not tell them that deep-seated reason because that requires you to tell this whole tragic story about your father dying horribly, or something like that. You don’t need to necessarily do that.



But write the other motivations down. Those are other things that help support your why. It may be that you’re prediabetic, and you want to get your blood sugars in line. It may be that you want to wear smaller clothing. It may be you want to quit having your doctor lecture you every time you go see your doctor. The next time you go see your doctor, that would be a, “Damn, what happened to you? You’re half the man you used to be.”



I’m like, “Well, thank you. I lost all that weight.” That can be a motivation. And motivations are useful because you can key into other things, and sometimes you can share that with other people, right? Why did you lose weight? My doctor kept lecturing me, and I finally just said, “I’m tired of this crap. I know you’re right.” So, I think tying it to your motivation is useful. And by the way, not everyone wants to share their inspiration behind doing things. Remember that is your own story to tell. They don’t get to judge you based on that.



So, moving right along this one is actually kind of important. I’m a little mixed on this one. The A almost always, and I’ve seen it changed out, but it usually stands for achievable. Achievable. Achievable means if you do action steps, you will achieve the goal. I’ve seen action steps listed before too. I think achievable with action steps. So, I kind of like this as a AA one kind of thing.



I think it’s achievable if you take certain action steps, okay? So, that takes us right into the next one. So, it’s achievable if you take the following action steps. So, if you’re going to lose 20 pounds by some set of time, three months from now, what action steps do you need to take, and is it achievable? Important to write those things down. You need to write this down. That’s going to be one of the big takeaways from this is you have to write this down. You cannot keep all this stuff in your head.



I don’t care how smart you are. You may have a Sherlock Holmesian mind palace where everything- No. Write this stuff down. Write it down. There’s a way to do it. So, achievable with the following action steps, and write them down. Make the action steps specific. The next one is realistic. Realistic says, “Will you take these action steps?” If you’ve never gotten out of bed before eight o’clock in your life, it’s probably not realistic for you to say, I’m going to wake up at 05:00 A.M. every morning.



I’m not saying you can’t do that. It just maybe, maybe that’s a- In the previous episode, we talked about a longer-term goal. Maybe that’s, kind of, getting yourself to that place over the next six months to a year. Maybe the first quarter goal, if you’re going to set a short-term goal, is to, “I’m going to start waking up at seven o’clock instead of eight o’clock, or six-thirty instead of seven. You might be able to move yourself to it. And there’s nothing wrong with having stair-step goals.



Remember, every path along the staircase to success is still one step that puts you further to the mountaintop. That’s always okay. Remember, you want to take action, you always want to take action, and you want to have a bias towards taking those action steps, okay? So, realistic is important. It’s the kind of gut check. And if you tell your goal, like, “Is this realistic?” Now, in the first episode, we talked about setting these audacious goals. Yeah, if you really think that you might go achieve these things, make the goals big and audacious. Is it realistic that you will actually do it, though; is the question.



Because if you’re not going to do it, then probably it’s the wrong goal for you. Because ultimately, exercise and goal setting takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of time. So with this, when you’re looking at realistic, say, “Okay, this is realistic, I can do it.” Write down your roadblocks. I think there are three Rs, I think they’re all tied together.



They are realistic, roadblocks, and reinforcements. Realistic- write down your roadblocks next. What is getting in the way to your path to success? If I say I’m going to get up every morning at 05:00 A.M. and start working out, and I know I need eight hours of sleep at night in order to do this, that means I’m in bed, what, at nine?



If you’re not going to commit to that, you’re setting yourself up for failure. So make sure you know what the roadblocks are. If a roadblock is, well, I have to go take my elderly mother oxygen every day, and the oxygen people don’t arrive till 08:00, and I have to take it at her house, and I don’t get home until 10:00, then probably that’s going to be a problem because your roadblocks are real.



Now, that’s also an opportunity. You might be able to have somebody else help out. You might be able to set up a different time frame on it. It’s important to look at those roadblocks, and if there are roadblocks in your way, roadblocks are stumbling blocks. And by the way, roadblocks represent opportunity. There might be some things you can do in that to really remove those things and set yourself up more to be improved. If you don’t have a gym membership and you don’t own gym equipment, then you probably can’t set your goal is, I’m going to be exercising every morning.



Now, you could go find bodyweight exercise you’re going to do at home. But if you share a one-room apartment with four other people, probably that’s a major roadblock for you. So, you need to find out if there’s a way to do it. Now, when I say this represents an opportunity, there are other things out there you might be able to do with it.



You might be able to say, okay, what is an opportunity on this? Maybe I have a friend I can go share their flat with. Maybe I don’t have the money for a gym membership where I am. These are real roadblocks. Go and address them upfront. You can knock a lot of them out of the way. Ask for help with a friend. You might have a friend- because here’s the thing, you might be too mired in it, and you may not know about the other opportunities.



Reinforcements. This is one of the things people forget to do. Reinforcements means reading your goals every night before you go to bed or at least once a day. You need to look at them, and you need to write them down so you can look at them. You need a reminder. Reinforcements can be reminders. They can be telling your friends about it. It can be having, if you’re trying to lose weight, it could be a gym buddy.



Turns out that other human beings are really good in helping you holding you accountable. I suggest having an accountability buddy or partner on this mission with you. Someone who’s aligned with you. Maybe somebody who loves going to the gym all the time and they are happy as a clam to get somebody else out there into their gym cult. Totally works. There’s nothing wrong with that.



Use them as reinforcement. Tell your friends about it. Write the goals down somewhere you’re going to read it. But if you don’t do that, you’re more likely to fail. I don’t have the exact statistics on that. We know that a lot of people don’t achieve their goals. No one’s really done a study on setting up goal setting the way I’m saying, and maybe we do that at some point in time. But the idea with it is you want to reinforce those goals.



And the last one is the T. No goal works without having a time frame on when you’re going to measure it. You have to have a time frame. It has to be set to a time. So, all together now, specific goal. I want to gain 10 lbs. of muscle mass in the next 90 days. 10 lbs. of muscle mass. Okay, that’s possible.



Why? Inspiration for it. I want to have a six-pack of abs on the beach because I want people to look at me and say, “Damn.” This is not a real goal for me, necessarily. I’m naturally this way. Just kidding. But the point about it is that it’s a goal, and it’s okay for you to say that. But you may not tell people that, right? Okay, so why am I doing that? Because I want to look really good in a swimsuit and I want people to look at me on the beach, happily married or whatever it is. But it feels good. The vanity thing feels good. It feeds a whole bunch of receptors in your brain.



Is it measurable? Okay, cool. Can I get on the scale now? Can I get calipers and check my body fat measurement and say, 90 days from now, is that up or down? That’s a yes. You can absolutely do that. And remember, I already had the time baked in there. It’s 90 days. My motivations for this? Well, I actually have a beach trip – this is also reinforced with motivation, but I know I’m going to have a beach trip here at 100 days from now. Okay, that’s an example.



Motivations. Well, I know that by doing that, I like to eat some junk food every day. And I know that by adding 10 lbs. to my body weight, if I add 10 lbs. of muscle, I will burn an extra 500 calories at rest a day. And that’s one extra piece of chocolate cake a night. Okay, there’s no judgment here. That can totally be okay. But if you gain 10 lbs. of muscle on your frame-



I remember a story they talked about- I’m originally from Georgia in the United States, and the 1996 Olympics were in Atlanta. And one of the big things about it was they were- McDonald’s was the official food sponsor of the Olympic Village in Atlanta, Georgia. Everybody made fun of that. Like McDonald’s isn’t healthy. But it turns out, when you’re a champion weightlifter or gymnast and all these other things, they can’t get by with consuming 2,000 calories a day. When you’re an Olympic weightlifter, you have to eat like 5,000 calories a day. When you go to the restaurant, you don’t get a piece of chicken. You get three chickens. And so for them, they can actually eat this stuff that most of us would say, oh, you can’t eat five hamburgers. Au contraire, they need the calories.



So here’s the thing, if you gain 10 lbs. of muscle weight, you can eat other things. You can have larger portions with your meals, and you’ll have to support that amount of body weight. Is it achievable with action steps? Okay, so I need to go to the gym three days a week. I need to have a really hard workout routine to gain muscle mass. I don’t know how achievable it is for me. I need to make sure I’m eating a little bit more protein every day. But I need to make sure I’m doing this long a workout for this amount of time, et cetera. And I need to make sure I have a gym membership or a place to go exercise or whatever it is.



Is it realistic? Will I do that? Well, I like working out. I’ll probably go to the gym. I’m just going to hit the weights a little bit harder. I mean, you need to buy some more gym equipment, whatever it is. Okay, yeah, if I do those things, if I address these roadblocks- What roadblocks for it? Well, I don’t have a gym in my area. Okay, just address the roadblocks you got. Okay, cool, but I can order some dumbbell weights, some pretty heavy-duty ones. I can get some rubber mats so I can drop them on. Get a bench. I can spend $500 and do all that.



Okay, what other roadblocks are there? Well, I’m in an apartment. It’s small. I can’t drop the weights on the floor. So, maybe there’s a place in the basement. I don’t know. But there’s a way you can look at the roadblocks, you know, and say, what’s going to keep you from doing it?



I’m really bad about getting up in the morning. It turns out I work very long days at work, and I’m an executive at work, and I can’t leave work at the same time every day. And I’m going to have to do this five days a week. Okay, fine. The roadblock for you is that you can’t work out in the evenings because you don’t know if you’ll get home in time to do it. So, I’m going to have to get up an hour earlier every morning. That means I need to be in bed an hour earlier every night. Address those roadblocks because they’re one of the biggest obstacles to being successful.



And reinforcements. Okay, so how am I going to reinforce this? I want to write my goals down every night. I’m going to read them. I’m going to get one of those app things where I take a picture of myself in my underwear in front of a mirror. I’m going to post online to a special group every day. Okay, if that works for you. Again, do what’s going to work for you. If that’s not a reinforcement, if that doesn’t make you feel good about it, that’s fine.



Getting a support group is totally fine, and other people who have achieved success and transformation of their body will probably support you. Good idea. Maybe you get a gym buddy. Maybe you buy that mirror thing that lets you do the workout things in front of it. I mean, there’s a whole bunch of options out there. Maybe you’re super competitive, and you want to challenge other people and, like, kind of a, you know, greatest weight loss challenge thing. Okay, that works, too. You can look at those.



And then what is your timeline on this? How do you do it time-bound? Okay, it’s 90 days. Look at that. So, I have the why we’re doing it, the specific, measurable, motivations, achievable, action steps, realistic, roadblocks, reinforcements, and timeline. And if you do that and you read all those every day, then that kind of works for you, okay? Totally, that can happen.



So, just to, kind of, go back to your takeaways. So, your first major takeaway on this is going to be to write your goals down. Write these things down so you can look at them and decide how that’s going to work for you in a reasonable, actionable way. Write them down. If you don’t write them down, you’re asking yourself to fail because you need them written down somewhere. Because otherwise, you can’t keep all this in your head. I don’t even know what I just said 30 seconds ago about these goals.



Check in on your goals daily, weekly, or monthly depending on what things are. If they are short-term goals – 90 days – you probably need to check in on those daily. Probably is a reinforcement thing. Maybe your reinforcement thing is to get on the scale. Maybe it is to do your caliper thing for this weight gain thing I was talking about. Check in on that, and that means when you check in on your goals, look and see how you’re doing and actually read the steps you’ve written down to help achieve them. Totally do that.



And the last step on this is to have a bias towards action. Okay, so this is one of the ones that this is going to sound like I’m hedging my bets a little bit, but I’m totally not. With this, when we talk about your goals and how you want to do things on it, have a bias towards action. Even if you don’t achieve them every day and if you miss a day, go back to it the next day. Absolutely do that.



But what happens is that you may find yourself, kind of, falling off the wagon or not doing stuff on a particular day for whatever reason. Have a bias towards action. Take small steps every day to achieve your goals, and let’s say you don’t hit your gaining 10 lbs. of muscle mass, but you gain six. I guarantee you that at the end of that time frame, you’re going to be a lot happier with the results than if you dined another way.



So, this ends another episode of The Buck Stops Here Podcast. This is the third in your set of goals setting. I hope you guys found it informative. Do not forget to like and subscribe if you like the content we’re bringing you here. We’re committing to, in 2022, bringing you one episode a week. That’s kind of our goal here, and we hope to see you guys around. Again, if you have ideas for podcast episodes in the future, you can join the mailing list. You can actually send us stuff, or put the comments here below on YouTube or elsewhere. Again, you can find this podcast at any good place that podcasts are listened to—Apple and Spotify, in particular. And again, be well, do good work, and we hope to see you around. Thank you.


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