Goals, we all need and want them. But, how do you go from just having a vague notion of what you’d like to accomplish to a full-on plan? SMART goals, and believe me when I tell you that they change the game.
Professor Robert S. Rubin from Saint Louis University is the biggest cheerleader for SMART goals. He even wrote about this system of goal setting in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. That’s right, it’s peer-reviewed! You can use the SMART method to make life goals, business goals, and pretty much anything in between. Here’s what SMART stands for:
S – Specific:
This step is relatively self-explanatory. Your overall goal has to be clear. Otherwise, you won’t know what you’re working toward!
When you’re trying to come up with a specific goal, think about the five w’s: who, what, why, where, and which. For example, you might ask yourself:
Who is involved in this project?
What is my desired outcome?
Why have I chosen this goal?
Where is this goal located (gym, school, work, etc)?
Which resources will be necessary to complete this goal?
Once you’ve answered those five w’s, you’ll have a much clearer vision of your goal overall.
M – Measurable:
Once you know what your goal is, you have to have a plan for how you’ll achieve it. Enter step two: making your goals measurable. Keeping an eye on your progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
How much is just right?
How many is too many?
How will I know when I have achieved my goal?
Once you know how you’ll be able to track your growth in regard to your goals, they become a lot more tangible.
A – Achievable:
Here comes the less fun part of goal setting… making sure you can actually reach your goals! It’s always fun to dream big, but in order to really get your SMART goals together, you have to make sure to have an actually achievable outcome. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to find missed opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it, too!
How can I actually accomplish this goal?
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
Is this goal within the scope of reason (considering things like finances, time, effort, etc)?
R – Relevant:
All of these steps are perfectly lovely, but they won’t add up to much if your goal isn’t actually relevant to you! It’s really hard to accomplish things you don’t care much about, so make sure your goals make sense, drive you forward, and are mostly under your own control (it can be tricky to make a goal out of something you don’t feel you have power over).
Some questions that a relevant goal might answer include:
Does this goal seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time for me to move forward?
Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
T – Time-Bound:
Without a deadline, sometimes it’s hard to get cracking on your goals. The time-bound part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals. When you know where you want to be in the future, you’re able to more effectively time block, and otherwise organize your day-to-day life.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?
Have you ever tried SMART goals before? If so, what are your SMART goals for the coming months? If not, do you think you will?