Well well well, what do we have here? One of the assistants has taken over Leonie’s blog! She’s a leeetle nervous about it but she’s started now so no going back. Also she should also stop writing in third person…

Hello hello dearest friends of Leonie!

A few days ago, I (Zita, Leonie’s online business manager, hi!!!) wrote a cheeky little blog post over on my own website talking about the goals I’ve been setting for 2022.

I will admit, I am less goal oriented than Leonie. At any given point Leonie has over 150 goals actively on the go (and fucking SMASHES them by the way, #ProudOBM), meanwhile I am failing the one (1) health goal I’ve set so far which is “eat less cheese, you are lactose intolerant and nearly died over Christmas.”

But I digress.

Leonie read my blog post about goals (literally the most supportive boss ever) and sent our group chat the following message:

You might be wondering what the hell SHMART/SMARTH is and I will get to that in a second dear reader, but when I read Leonie’s request: “Can you write a blog post for my blog about this?” I was like ‘Yeah, sure! Add it to Asana for me and I’ll get it done this week!”

I figured it would be the usual: I write the skeleton of the blog post and then Leonie comes in, sprinkles some glitter, adds the heart & soul and BAM the skeleton comes to life.

So imagine my surprise, the SHOCK, when I read the task instructions in Asana and the last sentence said “written in full as you, not me.”

Uhhhh I get to write a guest post FOR Leonie Dawson… About GOALS?!… 

Pack it all up folks. I have ascended, I am no longer of this mortal realm, I can eat as much cheese as I want because oh my god 2022 isn’t gonna get any better than this.

Truly, I’m living.

But let’s get right into the nitty gritty of it…

hey look! it’s me with Leonie’s undated LIFE Goal Getter Workbook!

It’s time for SHMART goals!

“Zita… What in the ever living ham sandwich is a ‘SHMART goal’?”

Well, let’s bring it back a bit. Perhaps you’ve heard of S.M.A.R.T goals!

  • S – Specific
  • M – Manageable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timely

It’s an acronym us goal getters and setters use to really help nail down the nitty gritty details of our goals. Setting SMART goals as opposed to say, making a vague New Year’s resolution means those goals are more likely to be achieved. Here, I’ll give you an example that I mentioned in my original blog post!

One of my 2021 goals was: dive with Great White Sharks.

Now if that’s how I left the goal (“this year I’ll go diving with Great Whites”), you can see it has no direction. No plan or structure of any kind.

Buuut if I rework that goal to be a SMART goal, it now sounds like this:

  • I will go diving with Great White Sharks in November as that’s the best time to see them
  • I’ll go with a research company, so that the dive is sustainable and the money I pay goes towards protecting the sharks & their environment
  • The diving package costs $4k, so I’ll put aside $600 per month between January and November to cover travel costs + the cost of the dive (which I’ll book in August)
  • Great White Sharks are my favourite animal, I would love to see them in the wild and contribute to their conservation & protection

You see how much smarter (pun fully intended), that sounds?

Now that I’ve reiterated to myself why I want to go diving with sharks + who I’ll go with (Specific) , how much it’ll cost + my savings plan (Manageable, Attainable & Realistic) and when I’ll go (Timely), the goal seems less like a pipe dream and more like something tangible. Something actually achievable.

Now. I wish at this stage I could insert a nifty little photo of me in a dive cage with a beautiful apex predator looming in the background. I wish I could regale you with tales of teeth and salt and sea air, because the only thing better than Leonie asking me to write a blog about goals would be if they asked me to write about sharks…

But I didn’t go diving with sharks in 2021. Even though it was literally my first goal on the Goal Getter 100 Goals list for 2021, even though I could afford it, even though I had the time.

So I started asking myself: “why DIDN’T I go diving with sharks? and why am I so reluctant to put it on my goals list again in 2022?”

And I realised yes, the goal is specific. Yes it’s manageable, attainable, relevant and timely. But it isn’t healthy.

I have chronic pain (CRPS) & ADHD, and we’re two years into a global pandemic. I spent the majority of 2020 and 2021 dealing with significant burnout while managing a whole host of personal life + health stuff that walloped the shit out of me. Much like a lot of people reading this, I barely have the energy to make it to the fridge to eat delectable, damaging cheese, let alone travel into another state for a week and then maintain a high level of physical activity (#yeugh).

This was my realisation:

For starters, I’d have to get to Adelaide [where the dive company is]. Difficult, when for the majority of the year the borders between South Australia (where the sharks are) and Victoria (where I am) were closed.

But even if they weren’t, how would I get to Adelaide? I can’t drive it on my own with my CRPS, if I fly; no car and limited transport.

And then, even overcoming all of the above, multiple days on a boat? With complete strangers? Diving (exhausting) with apex predators (cool, but also respectfully terrifying)?

So actually, it’s not as attainable or as manageable as I thought. It’s not a healthy goal for me to set right now and it wasn’t a healthy goal for me to set at the start of 2021 either.

And so that’s why I decided to add a ‘H’ to SMART goals.

I felt very clever and called it SMARTH. And then Leonie came up with SHMART and how the hell did I not think of that one?

Look, don’t get me wrong.will see Great Whites in the wild one day. And you’ll read about it because I will gently bully Leonie into letting me write about it here (I’m kidding, I would never bully my boss).

It’s just not healthy for me right now. I’m too burnt out, too nervous about the pandemic, too under-prepared for the toll it would take on my health.

So does that mean I failed? Should I feel bad that I didn’t achieve it last year and that I’m not even including it in my goals for this year?

Absolutely the fuck not.

We’re not defined by how many goals we did or didn’t achieve EVER, but especially during a traumatising and exhausting global event such as a pandemic.

You’re enough regardless of your achievements. You don’t need to be the Queen of Productivity in order to be worth something. You’re worthy no matter what.

It’s okay if you’re surviving not thriving. It’s okay if thriving isn’t even something you can focus on right now. It’s okay if rest, fallow, recuperate are the only things in your sight.

Because getting through this brutal, devastating experience is taking so much of our energy & patience, which in itself is one hell of an achievement.

My advice? If you wanna set goals, set them and set yourself up for success.

That’s one of the biggest things pain management taught me. That and there’s no such thing as a goal that’s too small.

If you don’t wanna set goals this year? If the idea of planning makes your knees want to suck up your legs so you can’t go anywhere or do anything? Well that’s just valid. So valid.

And if you do want to give goal setting a go this year, check out Leonie’s Goal Getter workbooks (legit they’re frickin’ brilliant, especially for my ADHD brain), use the SHMART goal setting system and go easy on yourself.

Whatever you bring to 2022 is enough. Just like you.

With love from the sharks, cheese and me (your friendly neighbourhood OBM),