Power of Goal Setting Using ‘Range Goals’

Power of Goal Setting Using 'Range Goals'

Like me, I bet you’ve often been told  that if you want to achieve success, you need to have specific goals. The more specific the better right?  How many times have you heard that without SMART goals you lack focus and direction! Also like me, how often have you have you felt a felt a bit depressed and disappointed when you didn't quite reach your target, even if you have worked hard and done a good job.  

SMART goals may be a great way to keep track of progress and set you up for success by making goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The SMART method might help push you further, gives you a sense of direction, and helps you organise & reach your goals.

But… not always.  

In this blog I want to throw a spanner in the works when it comes to goal setting and the traditional “SMART” goal setting ways. I will show you why setting a forward-looking “range goal” is a smarter alternative to the traditional SMART goals.  We will look at what a “range goal” is, how range goals are better for your mindset and motivation, why they are more likely to help you on your road to success plus how you can adopt ‘range goals’ professionally and personally. And don’t worry, I will share some practical tips and tools to help set them and implement them. 

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SMART goals are NOT the most useful way to set goals in this life-by-design age.

SMART Goals Don’t Work 

When it comes to setting goals, we all get taught the traditional way of using the SMART model. The first-known use of the term SMART occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. However, SMART criteria are more commonly associated with Peter Drucker's management by objectives concept.  SMART is all about setting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The principal advantage of SMART objectives is that they are easier to understand and to know when they have been achieved.  

However, you’ll know from my “Why SMART goals are stupid” blog  that I don’t think SMART goals are the most useful way to set goals in this life-by-design age. We might get told all the time to set SMART goals, but they do simply do not work. After all, if they did then we would all be setting SMART goals and smashing every single one of them!  

One of my bug bears with SMART is that they are difficult to implement and often you don't feel you have achieved them. This is especially true if you're like me and are a bit of a perfectionist or a very all-or-nothing sort of person. The problem with having a specific goal is that when you don’t reach your target you will beat yourself up, even if you have done a good job.  

For example, let’s say you’ve set yourself a target of saving £100 a month for year, but you fall shy of reaching the full target and you end up saving £1100 in a 12-months time. I’d say that this is still extremely good and you are only a smidgen away off your target. However, that ‘all or nothing’ perfectionist mindset can make you think that you have failed because you didn’t hit your specific target of £1,200. This is why you need to set ‘Range Goals’. 

What is a “Range Goal”  

Range goals are something I have developed and something that I have incorporated into all my personal life and business objectives. 

Range goals still require you to set a goal but instead of setting a specific target, you decide what your target is within a range. So back to our saving examples, you intend to save £1,200 a year but your range goal might be to save between £1,000 and £1,500 this year.  

The first advantage of setting range goals is that you will not beat yourself up or be too hard on yourself if you just miss your target. The second advantage of range goals is that setting range goals also allows us to exceed our expectations. After all, if you achieve your goal early with SMART goals people normally stop. However, when you set range goals, when you reach your target you know that that they were not specific, and it will encourage to review your goals and you can just keep going if you want to.   

SMART goals are the most useful way to set goals in this life-by-design age.

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Range Goals can be applied in every aspect of your life, including health, finance, business, and other projects.

Practical Tips and Tools 

Range goals can be applied in every aspect of your life including health, finance, business, and other projects.

Tip 1. Set Your Range Goals 

You need to set your range goals with your full attention and intention behind it. Take into account your current position and also your expected future circumstances. Decide what your goals are and how long it will take to achieve them. Then calculate what range your target will be within.  

The best question to ask is: What do I have to do to…? This is an incredibly powerful question because it opens up your mind to the possibility of achieving your goal. The way this question is phrased means you are only considering ways to achieve, not ways you cannot achieve.

Tip 2. Write Your Goals Down

Studies have shown that when you write your goals down you are 40% more likely to achieve your targets. We Humans are visual creatures and we respond and process visual data better than any other type of data. In fact, the human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than visual text and 90% of information transmitted to the brain is actually visual. 

Writing down your goals activates your reticular activating system in your brain (aka RAS). We’re bombarded with information all day, every day so your Reticular Activating System (RAS) is the brains way to filter out unnecessary information so that you just received the important stuff. We have to almost ‘switch on’ the RAS and tell it what to look for, so writing down your goals will help by visually showing the brain what it is you're after. 

As Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ and the author of Hiring For Attitude writes in his fascinating Forbes business web site article, Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them, Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success, and people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals than people who don’t. 

Tip 3: Regularly Review Your Goals 

Don’t just write your goals down and file them on the shelf.  You need to review your goals daily. You can make reviewing your goals a continuous process by putting them in an obvious spot, such as on your refrigerator or setting them as a screen saver on your computer or mobile phone. 

When you review your range goal, you need to decide whether you have achieved it yet or look to see if you are still on course to achieve it. However, remember you have set a range goal and so you might have hit your upper target but that is not a reason to not to extend the goal if you have already achieved it. 

Also, don’t be afraid to change or tweak the goal if it is no longer relevant in light of new circumstances. So much can happen and change in a short space of time and we cannot predict the future. Has anything changed? Are you in a new relationship? Have you changed your job? Do you still feel the same about your goal? It’s normal for our desires to change over time and our personal goals need to reflect this.  

Remember, reflection is a useful tool in realigning your goal to any changes and it’s important to keep on the right trajectory towards it. Writing and referencing your goals on a daily basis is a habit that will focus your energy and set you on a path to get what you really want out of life.

Bonus Tip : Create a Vision Board and use Visualisation

Creating a vision board will help you to achieve your range goals. As I explain in my blog article, Vision Board — A Powerful Tool to Achieve Your Goals, vision boards are also a useful visual tool for reviewing goals and continuing to reinforce the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Visualisation is also a powerful technique that can help you manifest and attract what you want by programming theReticular Activating System (RAS).  My blog Harnessing the Power of Visualisation to Create Success explains the concept of visualisation and also how you can use visualisation as a powerful technique to create success. 

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Vision boards are a powerful ways to keep you focused.

Time to Take Action

Now you understand the idea of 'Range Goals', it is time to sit down, grab a pen and some paper and write down your goals! Don't forget to set some time aside to review your goals at least once a day. I have incorporated my daily goal review in to my miracle morning routine.

The power of setting goals using 'Range Goals' is one of the many topics I cover on the Own Your Day 8-week Time Management Course. This is a value packed course that will empower you to accomplish your goals and create a life by YOUR design through mastering your time management and mindset. It will challenge the way you see time, how you approach your time management and goes against the usual “time management techniques” that often don’t serve us. As Jamie, one of our previous course participants said, “if you feel like you don’t have enough time and never get the things done you want to then this is the course for you”.
The course start soon and places are limited so find out more HERE!

Would you like to know how to work towards you goals in easy bit-by-bit approach using the compound-effect of the  Law of the Slight Edge? In a nutshell, the Slight Edge is the law that everything adds up bit by bit. The actions we take will move us either towards our goals or away from them.  Learn more about the Law of the Slight Edge in my ground-breaking article Using the Slight Edge to Achieve Your Goals. 

Are you interested in creating a vision board?  Creating a vision board will help you to achieve your range goals. Find out  my blog article, Vision Board — A Powerful Tool to Achieve Your Goals.


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This article is written by Alice Dartnell, life and success coach of Alice Dartnell Limited. Alice empowers busy professionals to be successful, transform their lives and achieve more by improving their confidence, mindset and time management.

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