How to Make Sure Your Goals are S.M.A.R.T.
The key to achieving goals is to make sure that they are created in a defined way that makes the outcome and time frame clear. By using a S.M.A.R.T. goal setting strategy, we can increase the likelihood of success. While no system is a guarantee for success, an effective strategy is a very useful tool when trying to achieve something that is important to us.
Specific: Goals must be very clear, not sort of vague ideas. We often set goals that are so generic, it’s nearly impossible to measure progress or successful achievement. You need to know what has to be done or what specifically the desired end result will be.
- I really want to lose weight. (Well who doesn’t? What does that mean?)
- I will lose 20 pounds by September 1st. I will perform a half hour of cardio and half hour of strength training per day, five times a week.
Measurable: Goals need to be measurable. They should be well-defined, concrete goals and must be in qualitative or quantitative terms. If there are no metrics or some way of measuring progress, it’s difficult to determine if you are making sufficient headway towards your end result. Choose some method of measurement that will allow you to gauge your progress.
- I wish to be wealthy and successful so that I never have to worry about money again.
- I will gross $1 million and have a team of five within 5 years.
Attainable: Goals need to be realistic and achievable. Time and again, success or failure is determined by having a realistic of your ability to achieve your specific goal. The best goals require you to stretch a bit to achieve, but they aren’t out of reach. You should consider what resources you have and your level of this skills necessary to achieve your goal. Setting goals that are not achievable can be very disheartening and will only serve to discourage you in life.
- I hope to become a best-selling author in three months. (You never know, but it’s highly unlikely.)
- I will increase my savings account by $10,000 in 3 years.
Relevant: Goals must be relevant to your purpose (or your company’s.) Setting goals that are relevant will keep you on the right path to your long-term goals. Relevant goals will also make certain that you stay focused on your personal vision, professional objectives, or overall strategic long-term plan in life. It also helps if the goal is related in some way to your area of skill, knowledge, and an area that you desire either personal or professional growth..
- I’d really like to network more. (Why? What does that get you? How?)
- I will attain my master’s degree in two years so that I can attain professional certification in my career field.
Time-Sensitive: Goals need to have a timeframe, milestones, and a deadline. Setting a specific period of time will help to give you a timeline for steps and eight deadline for achievement. It also helps you monitor your progress. Not having time constraints attached to your goal triggers procrastination. Without an end date, there is no sense of urgency, no impetus to take any action today. Without this component, we are tempted to put off the goal, relegating it to the “someday” pile. You may possibly never get around to it, or it could get lost in the shuffle of the day-to-day grind.
- I would love to write a best-selling book.
- I have always wanted to start my own business.
- I will write a book on financial planning and submit it to publishers one year from today.
- I will have a retirement account with at least $500,000 within 5 years from this date.
By taking a little extra time up front when determining goals to ensure that they fit the S.M.A.R.T. criteria you can not only improve your chance of success, but also in many cases make the actual attainment of the goal less of a challenge. A small dose of preparation will result in better results, smoother progress, and a higher rate of goal achievement success.