Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

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SMART Goal Setting for the New Year

As we turn the corner into another year, our best intentions come with us. We make plans to improve our health, relationships, work life, and many other areas that are meaningful or challenging for us. For a rare few, these goals have a lasting impact. For others, they are swiftly forgotten.

The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions has humbler roots than many of our goals have today. According to Time Magazine, it began in ancient Babylon, with promises made to the gods. The Babylonians took a down-to-earth approach; their promises included such manageable goals as returning things they had borrowed.

We can learn a thing or two from the Babylonians in setting yearly goals for ourselves that have staying power. A philosophy that aligned with their simple, doable promises was articulated by George T. Doran in 1981. Writing to managers, he described a system of goal setting that follows the acronym SMART. There are a few variations on the words associated with SMART. One version we like stands for:


When we set goals that follow the five SMART principles, we’re more likely to achieve them. We build in accountability for ourselves and ensure that we don’t bite off more than we can chew. Rather than thinking big for your New Year’s resolutions, try using SMART principles that will work with your Enneagram type to help you achieve your goals.

Specific: Instead of committing to an overarching idea such as “getting in shape,” commit to a concrete practice that will move you toward your intentions, such as running three times a week.
While specificity is important for anyone who wants to set achievable goals, it’s especially useful for types Four and Nine to consider. Fours often daydream of lofty achievements; getting clear on the steps they want to take will bring these closer to reality. For Nines, hazy, generalized goals can lead to inaction, so focusing on the specifics will bring momentum.

Measurable: Find ways to measure progress toward your goals quantitatively. Continuing with the example of running, you could aim to get your mile down to under ten minutes, and time yourself with each practice. This step is particularly important for type Eight, as Eights tend to pour a lot of energy into their pursuits, sometimes tiring themselves out or quitting. Creating measurable goals will keep actions strategic.

Attainable: Choose a goal that is under your control. Something like getting a book published depends on external circumstances, but submitting your manuscript to a set number of publishers is something you can accomplish on your own. Consider this especially if you are type Three or Six. Threes often focus on outside validation, and benefit from the inner-directed approach of attainability. Sixes often place control within others’ hands, and focusing on attainability brings the ball into their court.

Realistic: Consider how your goal, which should be fairly concrete by now, will fit in with the rest of your life. Do you have the ability, resources, money, and time to achieve what you’re hoping to do? Are there aspects you need to reevaluate to make the goal doable? Realism is an important consideration for types One and Seven. For Ones, it will minimize perfectionistic expectations and ease pressure. For Sevens, it will focus energy on priorities and lessen overextension.

Time-bound: Set yourself a deadline, for the final goal as well as for any milestones toward it. This practice is valuable for all of us, and wonderful for types Two and Five. Twos frequently prioritize others and can get sidetracked, so keeping to a schedule provides useful structure for tending to their own desires. Fives tend to spend a lot of time on planning, so having a deadline will ensure their goals materialize in action.

We encourage you to use all five SMART principles as you create and pursue your New Year’s resolutions, with a special emphasis on the dominant one for your type. With these practices in mind, you’ll see better results in meeting the goals that matter to you.

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Effective Goal Setting for Your Enneagram Type

20151029_144017“Out with the old, and in with the new!” The beginning of a new year is widely recognized as a time for goal setting. We may vow to clean our houses, get in shape, be kinder. But often, the promises we make are forgotten by February.

As with many aspects of life, our personality patterns bring both strengths and challenges for goal setting. Each type tends to run into certain snags that make it more difficult to meet our goals. With this in mind, here are some type-specific shortcuts for setting goals that are achievable and rewarding.

Type One: It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to fulfill a goal to the letter, which can lead to the “paralyzed perfectionist” syndrome. This year, build some flexibility and leeway into your plans. Pursuing your goals can be imperfect and messy, while still being productive…and even a little fun!

Type Two: Have you ever found yourself making resolutions on behalf of others, rather than for yourself? Take some time for self-reflection in your goal setting this year, and prioritize self-care. What goals can you set that will nurture you and meet your needs? Consider setting yourself breaks from helping others.

Type Three: As with Type Two, take time for self-reflection and set some goals that are for yourself only. It may be tempting to promote your goal and your efforts toward it. However, you’ll find value in setting goals that are personally meaningful but private – accountable just to yourself.  

Type Four: It’s easy to dream of ambitious results. This year, set goals with built-in structure, making them easier to achieve. For example, you could work toward a specific goal every day, with measurable steps. Rather than aspiring to fix a perceived flaw, set goals that are positive and results-oriented.

Type Five: Rather than thinking about your goals and generating endless possibilities, focus on one or two solid objectives. Get grounded and implement them in your daily life. Bringing in help and support from others is helpful. If your goal is to get in shape, for example, find a gym buddy to work out with.

Type Six: Don’t let fear get in the way of committing to the goals that are important to you. There’s no need to ask your “committee,” or turn to that self-help book, for input in choosing a goal. Listen to your inner guidance and select a goal and way of meeting it that resonates with you.  

Type Seven: You have lots of great ideas. Go ahead and brainstorm; then take time to look through your list, reflect, and select one or two important things to focus on. Start by prioritizing something small and measurable. Big plans take time, and are completed step by committed step.

Type Eight: It’s easy to put a lot of zest and energy into your goals. Don’t overdo your plans this year; your goal setting doesn’t need to be ambitious or tiring. Be gentle with yourself and your efforts. Choose goals that will nurture your heart, and tap into your protective, magnanimous side.

Type Nine: Let your affinity for routine work for you, rather than against you. It takes time to change or create a habit. However, once you’ve put the effort into establishing a regular behavior, it will stick. Setting goals that you can work into routines will build new, meaningful habits into your life.

If you’d like to learn more about the Enneagram and goal setting, including a framework for setting more effective goals that benefits all types, join us on January 8 for our first Leadership Lunch Talk in San Francisco, or contact us to schedule a talk or workshop with your organization or group.