Gurus state that big, hairy, audacious goals motivate us to reach for our dreams. Unfortunately, that specific piece of advice hasn’t done me any good. Ever. I finally found something that does, though, by using a combination of SMART goals and Low High Bar habits.
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How To Write a SMART Goals
SMART is a mnemonic used to remember the guidelines on setting goals. It stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-based. Adding a range to the goal allows for success even if the high ceiling of the goal isn’t reached. Confused? Don’t be! I’m going to break it down for you now.
One of my SMART range goals for this year is to read 12 to 24 fiction and non-fiction books by December 31st.
S – is it specific? I’m reading fiction and non-fiction rather than just “books.” I could make it even more specific and include genre and format.
M – is it measurable? Measured by the output (how many books) and type (fiction or non-fiction).
A – is it attainable? At most, it’s two books a month. I believe that is attainable, depending on the size of the book chosen. Some months may see more reading than others because of it.
R – is it realistic, given my lifestyle and resources? Yes, if I lived in a perfect world. That’s why I used a range of effort. I’ll still be reading despite the size of my TBR (to-be-read list).
T – is it time-bound? Yep, the end date of December 31st of this year.
By creating a range of measurability – twelve to twenty-four – I am successful even if I don’t reach that high ceiling of twenty-four books. Nice, right?! Now that we have a better handle on goals, let’s look at why I’m also using Low and High Bar habits.
Why I Need Low High Bar Habits
I have a very full life. On the home front, I have kids and a husband, teach several classes a week, attend church and volunteer, and struggle with an autoimmune disorder. Professionally, I write novels, create online courses for clients, and travel. My expectations must be realistic.
That means I need something that will help me move towards my goals, even if it’s at the very basic, baby level. That’s what Low High Bar habits do for me: they set up automaticity even when I don’t want to do it. Plus, it gives me a sense of fulfillment when done, regardless of the level of effort.
Setting Up the Low High Bar Habit
Created a SMART goal? Check! Next up is to create daily habits that will get me to it. Which ones will I need?
Off the top of my head, I‘ll need to:
- choose fiction and non-fiction books
- read daily
- log my reading
That’s plenty of daily habits to create and keep. That’s where the Low High bar habit steps in.
Remember, the low bar is the least amount of work that 1) maintains the automaticity of the habit and 2) gives a sense of satisfaction when done. The high bar defines where I want to be on a daily basis. Let’s set up those Low High Bars for those habits, shall we?
|Habit||Low Bar||High Bar|
|Daily Reading||Read for one minute or one page, whichever is easier.||Read for one hour or five chapters.|
|Fiction/ Non-Fiction||Use a pre-determined reading list, like the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.||Choose my books carefully from recommendations, research, and/or interest.|
|Log||Write down the title, date, and approximate pages/chapters read once a week in my reading journal.||Post to GoodReads daily on pages read progress.|
See how those low bars are, well, low? It’s a trick to keep the habit going and forces me to maintain it, no matter what. That’s the point. I know that once I get in the groove of reading, I’ll just keep going. A low bar helps me move towards making reading automatic, rather than sporadic, and by being consistent I’ll be able to read twelve to twenty-four books this year.
Habits are hard to create. You’ll know if you’ve ever tried to make a new one or change an old one. The only way to reach that goal is to use a daily habit, setting a low and high bar for it, and being okay with either extreme.
Your SMART Goals and Low High Bar Habits
I’ve got more goals than the one mentioned, both professionally and personally. They’re SMART goals with a range of expectations and Low High Bar habits to move me in the right direction.
What SMART goals did you make for the year? How will you use the low high bar to create a daily habit to move you toward them? Tell me in the comments!
Disclaimer: I didn’t come up with the idea of Low High Bar habits. I watched a YouTube video by Improvement Pill called How To Properly Build Your Habit in which he shows how to build a habit with Low High Bars.
Resources for Creating Goals and Making Habits Stick