Friday, October 27, 2023

Have you ever experienced that feeling of being stuck on a hamster wheel, where life seems to be a never-ending cycle of routines and mundanity? We’ve been there too. Just a short while ago, Ken and I found ourselves in the midst of a several-month-long slump. Now, don’t get me wrong, we were still efficient in our day-to-day activities. We still worked hard, served our clients with excellence, and did what we set out to do. And yet, there was an undeniable lack of zest in our lives. It was as though the vibrancy had faded away, even in our relationship – not bad, just not quite as inspiring as we wished. Lackluster. Like we lost our shine.

Here’s the thing: we’ve always understood the power of having a shared vision as a couple. We know that when we have a compelling vision, life thrives. And when that vision begins to wane, we start going through the motions, still committed but missing that spark that makes life genuinely exhilarating.

This transformation in our perspective and the rekindling of our enthusiasm for life came about thanks to the wisdom of our longtime mentor and friend, Dianna Kokoszka, an accomplished business leader who has been guiding us for over three decades. She invited us to join her book club and move through her newest book, Becoming More. One chapter in particular helped us move past our slump. Those of you who know Ken and I know we’re no newbies to goal setting. And Dianna introduced us to a new approach to goal-setting that helped us rekindle that spark in our lives.

We are so excited about it that we had to share it with you. Let’s dive into this powerful approach – SMART-ER goals, which builds upon the traditional SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) by adding an “ER” for Emotional and Rewarding.

“S” – Specific: 

Imagine setting a specific goal: “I will gain 15 new clients by December 31, 2023, who I can serve.” This level of detail is clear and precise, so you know exactly what you want to achieve. Clarity like this helps you focus your time and energy effectively because you have a strong sense of direction.

“M” – Measurable: 

Dianna emphasizes that goals should be attainable and measurable. This doesn’t just mean reaching the finish line; we must also monitor our progress throughout the journey. For example, when I swim my goal of 1000 strokes a day, I track how many days I do it each month. This way, I can continuously assess my progress. Seeing that I swam 60% of the days in a month makes me feel good and want to keep going! Goals aren’t just dreams; they’re milestones we track and reach along the way.

“A” – Audacious: 

We all know there is no point in setting goals we can’t achieve. Dianna challenges us further in her book. Instead of setting easily achievable goals, she encourages us to strive for goals that are audacious and bold. I’m not inspired to do something I already know I can. Where is the excitement in that? Your objectives should stretch you, inspiring you to aim higher than before. If you’re into fitness, setting a goal to complete a marathon within a year is much more inspiring than a simple morning jog. If we aren’t stretching ourselves, we aren’t embracing the true potential of what we offer.

“R” – Relevant: 

There is no point in going to school to be a physician if you can’t stand the thought of looking at an injury. Becoming a pig farmer is similarly odd if you enjoy eating pork. Your objectives must be directly aligned with your values, mission, and the broader vision for your life. When your goals have a meaningful purpose, they become more and more relevant. Focusing on what resonates with us makes us more likely to find fulfillment and success in our pursuits.

“T” – Timely: 

What’s missing? That ticking clock, the calendar pages flipping, and a finish line in sight. That’s where timely comes in! Imagine you have a goal to run a marathon. You could say, “One day, I’ll run that marathon.” But with SMART goals, you’d say, “I will run the Chicago Marathon on October 13, 2024.” Now, that’s a date to remember. You’ve set the stage for your success.

This timeframe lights a fire under you. It makes you lace up those running shoes, hit the pavement, and train purposefully. Why? Because you’ve got a date with destiny! Committing to that goal within a specific period keeps you accountable and dedicated.

To make your goals SMART-ER, Diana adds an “ER” – Emotional and Rewarding aspects.

“E” – Emotional

It’s incredible, but studies show that our subconscious needs to be on board, so to speak, to help us fulfill our goals. Otherwise, we unwittingly sabotage ourselves. We enlist the support of our subconscious by attaching emotions to our plans. When we envision what it feels like to reach our goals, this fuels our emotions and drives us to take action. If you dream of being a famous public speaker, envision yourself on stage while people applaud after your talk. Picture people’s faces lighting up with new understanding and inspiration. Imagine people approaching you afterward, sharing how your talks have changed their lives. Similarly, writing out your goals by hand and reading them reinforces the connection to your subconscious. This deep emotional connection to your goals drives your actions, pushing you to keep going when things get tough.

“R” – Rewards

For some of you, it may be surprising that these are so vital. It’s not about being selfish; it’s about acknowledging your hard work and accomplishments. These sparks of joyful enjoyment fuel you. They keep you going and make the journey so much sweeter. So, when you reach a milestone, take a moment to celebrate. Ken’s celebrations almost always involved food. Mine usually are spending time with people I love. Maybe yours is treating yourself to a trip to get your nails done, a quiet evening with a good book, or a round of golf. These rewards remind you that every step on this path is a victory and you are worthy of joy. After all, in the end, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about relishing the journey.

Finally, I have a challenge for you. If you find your life is becoming more lackluster, or if you and your significant other need a jolt of inspiration together, take some time out. Earmark a day together. First, set your own goals individually and then come together to see where they align and where you can support each other. You’d be amazed at the clarity it can bring to your marriage and your understanding of each other!

In this synergy, this beautiful dance of dreams, the enchantment of SMART-ER goals come alive. Each day becomes an opportunity for growth and connection, propelling you both towards the life you’ve imagined. Where your goals align and intertwine, a profound connection blossoms. You uplift one another, supporting what’s most important to you both, and together, you cultivate a deeper bond and a life infused with purpose and passion.

As you revisit your goals with Dianna’s SMART-ER lens, I hope your future looks more and more like a canvas, brimming with thrilling possibilities. When this kind of goal setting occurs within a marriage, your love story and individual dreams weave together into an epic narrative. That’s the magic of SMART-ER goals and where the extraordinary awaits.

Dianna’s Becoming More is so inspirational, we will be hosting a Zoom book club starting November 23 at 9AM so you have the opportunity to join others on the journey. To pre-order Becoming More, go to That way you can get a jump on the reading. If you are interested in finding out more, email us at We’d love to get you connected because when we move forward together, together, we’ve got this!