What are SMART goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It is a form of goal setting that defines your objective and helps formulate a plan to get there. Having a plan is crucial for anyone trying to achieve success. I’m not saying it’s impossible to blindly reach your goals but you have a much better chance when you have a plan. Smart goals help you formulate that plan and give you a path to success. In this article, you will find everything you need to reach smart goal success.
SMART Goal Setting: Specific
Goals should be specific. Specific means having a well-defined goal with as many details as possible. Consider who, what, why, when, and where when. For example, having a goal of getting into better shape is a general goal. While having the goal of going to the gym and doing 30 mins of cardio at least 4 times a week is more specific. It explains where and how you are going to achieve your goal.
SMART Goal Setting: Measurable
Goals should be measurable. This means you should be able to measure and track your progress. You should have quantifiable data. For example, the goal of wanting to get into shape is not measurable. Now if you say I want to be able to bench my body weight or I want to lose 30 pounds, those are measurable. You can easily keep track of these goals and visually see your progress in something like a chart.
SMART Goal Setting: Achievable
These goals need to be achievable. If you currently make $50K a year and you have a goal of being a millionaire by the end of the year, chances are you are not going to achieve your goal. Be realistic with yourself. You want to set yourself up for success with your goals. When forming your goals, ask yourself if it’s something you are physically and mentally capable of doing. If it’s not, then maybe you should reevaluate your goal.
SMART Goal Setting: Relevant
Your objectives should be relevant to you, your situation, and your vision. Does achieving this goal really matter to you? Is it something of importance to you? If it’s not, then you will likely not pursue this goal for very long. Use your time and energy to work on goals that matter to you. The more important it is in your life the higher your chances of successfully fulfilling your goal.
SMART Goal Setting: Time Bound
SMART goals are time-bound. This means setting a time limit on when you want to achieve your goal. Your time for achieving the goal should be achievable but you don’t want to give yourself too much time either. You want to set a time to force yourself to stick to the plan and reach your goal before the deadline.
Putting it all together, a SMART goal could be something like I will lose 30 pounds in 3 months by going to the gym at least 4 times a week and doing a minimum of 30 mins of cardio.
More SMART goal examples
Smart Goal Example #1
I will complete the remaining 8 classes to get my bachelor’s degree within 12 months.
- Specific – Completing a bachelor’s degree is well defined and specific to the individual.
- Measurable – This goal can be measured by how many classes need to be completed and completing the bachelor’s degree is a definite sign that the goal has been reached.
- Achievable – For this individual, they can complete 8 classes in less than a year so the goal is something they can achieve.
- Relevant – This goal is relevant to this person because they want to complete their degree to begin or advance in their career.
- Time-bound – Stating within 12 months gives this goal a specific time frame.
Smart Goal Example #2
I will save $100 a week so I can have $5,200 in my savings account in a year.
- Specific – This goal is specific saying $100 week and $5,200 after a year.
- Measurable – This goal can be measured on both a weekly and yearly basis.
- Achievable – For this individual, $100 a week is easily achievable with a few adjustments to their budget.
- Relevant – Having healthy savings for a rainy day is relevant to pretty much everybody.
- Time-bound – This can be measured on both a weekly and a yearly basis.
Smart Goal Example #3
I will complete all the required training for promotion at my job within the next 4 months.
- Specific – This goal is well defined stating training for promotion.
- Measurable – This can be measured by how much training is completed.
- Achievable – This is something this individual is fully capable of doing. Notice the goal is not to get promoted because that is something the individual can not control. They can control being ready for promotion.
- Relevant – This is a relevant goal to this person for them to be eligible for the promotion.
- Time-bound – This person wants to complete this within 4 months giving the goal a time frame.
The importance of SMART goal setting.
SMART goals give you a sense of direction on how to achieve your vision of your future. Because of the specificity of SMART goals, it’s easy to make a plan on how you are going to reach your goal. Once the goal is set you can start working your way backward from where you want to be and determine your path to achieving your goal. SMART goals also put your feet to the fire by forcing you to meet a deadline. SMART goals can keep you motivated because you can judge or see the progress you are making toward your goal.
Drawbacks of SMART Goals
One of the drawbacks of SMART goals is lack of flexibility. They are very analytical meaning they are not meant to be adjusted. Either you reach your goal, or you don’t. This type of goal setting may not always be the best for long-term goals because you can never predict what life will throw at you. When using SMART goals for long-term goals, you may want to set a time period to reevaluate the goal and adjust as necessary.
For example, if you have a goal of paying off the mortgage on your house in 15 years instead of 30, and in year 2 you get sick miss some work, and get some extensive hospital bills. This may make your goal unattainable and it may need to be readjusted based on the circumstances.
Tips for Smart Goal Success
Write Them Down
Writing down your goals is a great way to not only reinforce them into your conscious mind but also your subconscious mind. You can use a goal planner, a journal, sticky notes, or just about anything you can write on. I prefer to use sticky notes so I can put them in places like my bathroom so I read them multiple times a day.
A vision board is a tool that will get you closer to achieving smart goal success. Vision boards are a great way to put images to your goals which will greatly improve the chances of reaching your target. You can create a vision board for free or very cheap. Although I do like the idea of a physical vision board because you can hang it up, digital vision boards can be great for convenience and you can take them anywhere. Whichever vision board you choose to use will help you in your pursuit.
Being successful at reaching your objective requires commitment and dedication. Before you do something ask your self if it helps get closer to your goals. If not then is it something you need to do or can your time be used on something that will get you closer to your objective? Try to work toward your goals every day. Even if it’s just small steps. Progress is progress.
Progress can be tough so reward yourself when you make progress. Especially when it comes to significant accomplishments. You can reward yourself with anything from ice cream or a trip to the Bahamas depending on how big the accomplishment is. The important thing is that you recognize that you did it and you are making progress toward being even more awesome than you already are.
Share Your Goals
Talk to others about your goals. When you tell family and friends about your intentions it will help keep you focused. You don’t want to let your family and friends down. They will also ask about progress and how it’s going. This will help keep your objective fresh in your mind. Think of it as extra motivation to see it through to the end.
Chunk it Down
Think about reaching your goal and work your way backward, thinking about what steps you need to do to get there. Each of those steps should become mini-goals. These mini-goals are much easier to achieve and keep the momentum going. One mini goal leads to the next and once you start getting a couple of wins under your belt progress will almost become unstoppable.
Track Your Progress
Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated and keep the momentum going. To-do lists and bullet journals are a great way to keep progress. Certain goals work well with charts. For example, saving enough money for a down payment on a house can be graphed on a chart to show your progress. Excel is a great program for creating graphs that are a beautiful representation of your progress.
Be Ready for Hurdles
Setbacks are bound to happen from time to time. Be prepared for them and try to head them off as soon as possible. You can’t predict every problem in your way but do your best to think about as many of them as you can and come up with solutions. The biggest part is staying mentally prepared. Many people hit a roadblock and get so mentally frustrated that they give up on their goals altogether. Remember why you set the goal, to begin with, and let that motivate you through the setbacks.
Seek out others that are going after the same things you are trying to achieve or others that have already reached the goal you are going after. These people are great for providing support, guidance, and additional motivation. Some online places you can find like-minded people are Facebook Groups, Forums, and Quora but family and friends are also great options. Seek out these mentors and you may find one that is willing to take you under their wing. The more advice and guidance you can get from like-minded people the more chance of success you will have.
Understand What Motivates You
Motivations can be many different things. It can be money, power, fame, self-image, fear, or curiosity just to name a few. Be honest with yourself what is your real motivation. Understanding your motivation will help you know how to continue moving forward.
For SMART goal examples and a free SMART goal template CLICK HERE.
If you enjoyed this article you may like my article on creating a vision statement that motivates and inspires.
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