Goal setting isn’t about writing a wish list of things you want to have, achieve, or improve. Goal setting is about challenging yourself to realistically achieve your desires. But here’s the rub: most of us won’t reach our goals and they will be “good intentions”. So the question then is, “How can I set goals and achieve them?”
Well, many successful goal achievers use the S.M.A.R.T. method:
S = specific
M = measurable
A = achievable
R = relevant
T = timely
Adopting behaviors using this method helps create lasting lifestyle changes. Goals are, by their nature, finite. They are a bonus at the end of the year, the trophy for winning the race, or the prize you see for yourself. Let’s take a look at these five steps for reaching our SMART goals and how to implement them in our plans.
S = Specific
Be specific about what you want to achieve. There is a difference between “I want to get that big promotion” and “I want to be qualified to apply for that big promotion”. Ask yourself the questions that will help you achieve your goal: Who does my goal involve? What am I trying to accomplish? When will this be achieved? Why do I want to make this goal happen? What resources or limits are involved? Where is it located? With the promotion example, the hiring decision is out of your hands, but you can set goals based on skills you need to acquire successes you need to track or certifications you need to pass. With the right skills, you would then be a qualified candidate to apply for that position.
M = Measurable
Pay attention to setting measurable goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress along the journey helps you stay focused, meet your deadlines, and celebrate the successes along the way. Ask yourself these questions: How long will it take to reach my goal? How do I know when I’ve achieved my goal? How many? How much?
A = Achievable
Is my goal realistic? Can I achieve this goal? What skills or tools do I need to reach it? You want to stretch your abilities, but the goal must remain possible. If you don’t have the time, money, or talent to reach a certain goal, then you will certainly fail. However, there is nothing wrong with aiming high, just don’t chase after something that is not possible. Find that balance between stretching yourself and achieving success.
R = Relevant
This is about making sure that the goal matters to you! It would be hard to stay motivated if the goal is not about achieving personal success. We do need a support system around us, but ultimately, the goals are yours and you control them. These are good questions to ask when setting your goals: Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? What is the objective behind the goal and will this goal help me achieve that? This is a great opportunity to figure out what your why is and how this goal will help achieve that why.
You have two focuses concerning the T of SMART goals: time-sensitive and the right time. Is this the right time to set this goal? Do I have time to achieve this goal? Is this goal achievable in the time I have allotted? Keep your timeline realistic and flexible, so that you can maintain your positivity. Make modifications and adjustments so you can keep on track for reaching this goal.
At a conference, the keynote speaker shared that he had lost 42 pounds during the past year. The audience cheered and clapped and celebrated with him. When the audience then calmed down, he said, “Why are you cheering for me? My goal was 50 pounds and I didn’t achieve my goal.” He went on to explain that sometimes we are hard on ourselves when we don’t achieve the end goal. We think we are a failure. But really, we should all celebrate the victories, successes, and milestones achieved on the journey of improvement. Was he quitting because he only lost 42 pounds? No! He was continuing until he reached his goal — adjusting that timeline — because he ultimately knew his goal was more important than limiting itself to time. He needed to make healthy improvements in his life and losing weight was the overall goal. He had put in place SMART goals to achieve this: exercise, diet changes, and reducing overall calories were part of his plan.
Take time this January to make SMART goals. Use these five guidelines to achieve and improve yourself in 2020.