You may have read about the importance of setting goals in my earlier blog entry, but today I wanted to make a special point about why it’s smart to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. It makes all the difference in terms of accomplishing your dreams.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for a popular approach to goal setting that helps ensure that you have the right targets to shoot for and a feasible way of hitting your mark. The acronym stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
Make sure that your goals have a specific outcome in mind. It is not enough to just say, “I’d like to be healthier,” because that is too broad and could include too many things to actually move the needle forward on your vision. It leaves too much grey area in terms of whether the goal was met or not.
Instead, state what you will specifically do to get healthier. Leave no room for in-betweens about what will be undertaken to achieve your goal. A better approach would be to identify exactly how you will be healthier. “I will exercise.” “I will eat healthier foods.”
Specific goals help you home in your vision in a clear way.
Following up with specificity, make sure that your goals are measurable and can be tracked. If you cannot measure a goal, there is still too much ambiguity surrounding the end-result to actually matter.
To make goals measurable, include a quantitative aspect that is either achieved or not. Going along with the above example, “I’d like to be healthier,” should instead look more like, “I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds.”
Now we have a specific course of action and a measurable outcome.
It can be easy to set unattainable goals when we are feeling our best or are coming off of a massive win. We want to keep the momentum going and declare that “this year is my year!” And while this is a noble thing and is exciting in the moment – it may not leave us better off when actually setting goals for the quarter/year.
Goals should challenge us to move forward, but they have to be attainable. Make sure your goals are within the realm of possibility; otherwise, you are setting yourself up for failure when you are actually trying to do your best.
Another problem we run into is setting irrelevant goals that hold no real outcome on our lives. This can happen when we want to do too much at once, or we’re looking for an easy win that doesn’t really contribute to realizing our dreams.
Make sure your goals are relevant and work with other goals that you may have set. Furthermore, they should matter and provide tangible value to your wellbeing – professionally or personally.
It does no good to set a frivolous goal for all of your effort. Tailor them to improve your life as something worthwhile. For example, losing 10 pounds is worthwhile because it improves many other factors of your life and is a great start to a journey of overall improved health. It is also an attainable goal that can be expanded on with progress.
Lastly, goals should fit within a defined timetable. By including a time measurement to the goal, it comes with a sense of accountability. This keeps you on-track and helps ensure success from your efforts.
Without a time component to a goal, it can be too easy to push off into the future. What is the point of setting a goal if you never really accomplish it or hold yourself to any sort of expectation? Add a timetable to the goal, while also making sure that it is still attainable.
“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months.”
When we sit down to map out goals, it is easy to fall into the trap of idealistic optimism and to shoot for the stars. This is a good thing, but as we’ve seen, it isn’t necessarily the smartest way to go about mapping out your plans.
“I would like to be healthier,” is a goal that is not specific, is not measurable, and has no timetable to judge it by.
“I will jog around Kansas City to lose 10 pounds in three months,” is a much stronger goal as it has a specific outcome, is measurable, and sets a time limit to keep things moving in the forward direction. It is also an attainable goal that has relevance to one’s life.
The end result of applying the S.M.A.R.T. system is an improved chance of taking your dreams and turning them into a reality. Make sure to incorporate this method into your goal setting to be more productive with your time.
~ Scott Asner Kansas City, Missouri