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PACT: A New Method for Achieving Your Goals

Notebook with words Goal List and 1, 2, 3 written on it with a woman holding a pen.

Goals are a method for accomplishing, achieving, acquiring, or experiencing things in our lives. Goals are a destination and give us a sense of direction that can provide motivation to get there. S.M.A.R.T. goals seem to be the gold standard method that leaders and coaches talk about - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based. All noble ideas. But I have a confession to make: I don’t like S.M.A.R.T goals. (If you are unfamiliar with S.M.A.R.T. goals, a quick google search will lead you to millions of articles). They have never resonated with me. Goal setting in this way works for some people, and that is great! Instead of only embracing the destination, I welcome the journey as well.

Enter a new method: PACT. The acronym stands for Purposeful, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable. It focuses on the output (which I think of as the journey) as well as the outcome. It focuses on what actually matters, supports taking action, encourages continual progress, and provides opportunities to reassess your progress.

Let’s break this down further and give examples of how you can use this method:

1: Purposeful

This first step looks at your goal’s meaning and why you are doing this. It connects you to your own values and what is important to you. Ultimately, this goal would have a long-term effect. To find the purpose in what you are doing:

  • Ask questions of yourself. Tiago Forte, the author of the book The Second Brain, says that questions “... illuminate a space of possibilities where many avenues can open up, not just a single narrow path.” These can be simple questions like “what is important to me right now” or more complex questions like “How can I live a long, healthy, fulfilling life?”

  • A great tool to bring awareness to various areas of your life is the idea of a life bucket. By figuring out what is most important to us, we can guide our time toward what is most important. Life Buckets may include things like Business/Career/School, Health/Nutrition, Relationships, and Personal Growth/Learning.

2: Actionable

This second step looks at outputs that you can control. It encourages you to take one step at a time. What is one thing you can do today? Notice it’s not planning out all 50 steps to complete your project, it’s just one doable action. If you find that you are stuck with figuring out an action, ask yourself the question “Can I just…?” This phrase gives me something that is doable and actionable. When I set a goal to wake up at 5 am, I asked myself the question “Can I just go to bed 15 minutes earlier?” This is, in part, how I trained myself to wake up ea