It’s important to have goals, it helps to keep us on track rather than just cruising along through life. However, goal setting can be a tricky task. Many of us might like to loose a few pounds or save some money, but we aren’t really sure how to achieve our goal. Well, fortunately it doesn’t have to be hard. In fact if your SMART about it goal setting can be easy. Furthermore by using SMART goal setting you may find that you’ve increased your success rate.
So what is SMART goal setting? Good question and we’ll get to it in a moment. First I want to cover three aspects that can make achieving your goals that much easier.
- Write it down. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, write it down somewhere. Let it inspire you! Your goals are your dreams, so I do hope they inspire you. Referring back to your goal often will remind you of why you are doing whatever it is you are doing. Further, it will make the goal appear more real.
- Recruit a partner. Someone who you can talk to about your goal, to help keep you motivated and on track. This person can be a spouse, parent, sibling, friend, co-worker. Whatever works for you.
- Like Nike says, “Just Do It!”
SMART goal setting is about working, you guessed it, smarter and not harder. It is a way for you to clearly lay out your objectives and then track those objectives through to completion.
The problem most people have when setting goals is that they aren’t sure how to measure success or how to define the steps they need to take. SMART goal setting takes care of that for you. In five simple steps it allows you to put a plan in place and provides you with the tools to review your progress. The five steps to SMART goal setting are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time. We’ll break each of these down below.
- Specific: You should have a specific goal in mind. Many people desire to loose weight and so their goal may be to ‘loose 20 pounds in one year.’ This is a goal and it’s a good one. However, it isn’t specific. A specific goal would be ‘to loose 20 pounds in one year, by eating a healthier diet and working with a personal trainer.’ Another example might be to ‘save three months of income in an emergency fund.’ Again, a great goal but not specific. A specific version would be I plan to ‘save three months of income by setting up an automatic transfer to a savings account of $100 every pay.’ It’s not just enough to have a goal, you need to define exactly how you plan to achieve the goal. By doing this you put a plan to your desire. You articulate how you going to take action and make the goal a reality. Remember you can have multiple goals, however you should define them individually.
- Measurable: Your goal should be measurable. In order to determine if you are on the road to success with your goal you need to quantify it. In the examples above it is easy to track. Week after week are you loosing weight? On each pay date are you transfering money? These are the easy ones to track. Some goals may not appear so easy to quantify. You will need to determine a way to measure your progress to ensure you are on track.
- Achievable: Can it be done? Perhaps you’d like to be increase productivity. Demanding a 100% increase in productivity probably isn’t achievable. However, requesting a 10% increase over last months productivity might be. You can then work with that to eventually reach your 100% goal.
- Relalistic: Achievable leads directly to relalistic. Can it honestly be done? If the goal isn’t relalistic then you need to return to the ‘Specific’ stage and re-evaluate your objectives. Whatever your goal might be it should be achievable with tools that you have on hand or that are easily available to you.
- Time: When will your goal be accomplished? It’s fine to say you want to loose weight or save money, but when will you reach that goal? Without this element the goal is open ended and has no real beginning or ending. The time element is also a time where you might do a review to ensure you are on track. You could them make adjustments to your plan if required.
Goal setting can be daunting. However, with some forethought and planning it can be a highly rewarding process. Especially when your hard work pays off. Afterall when you achieve your goals you are one step closer on your personal journey of success.