How SMART are your goals?
The successful attainment of your goals depends greatly on how smartly you set them.
Amongst the dictionary definitions of smart are ‘intelligent’, ‘astute’ and ‘acute’ and applying these to your goal setting will make all the difference to how swiftly you achieve them and whether you reach them at all.
So how can you set goals smartly?
What does SMART stand for?
The first step is to understand the meaning of the acronym SMART.
S = Specific. One of the chief obstacles to achieving a goal is setting a goal that is non-specific. For example, you may want to feel happy, healthy and become wealthy, but these are broad topics rather than concrete goals and therefore harder to attain.
One of the methods of coaching is called TGROW. T stands for topic and G for goal. A coach will help you move from that broad topic such as to become happier to finding the specific goals that will help you become happier.
In defining goals for yourself, you could start by identifying one achievement that would make you happier or healthier or wealthier, or one for each, and work towards those individual, concrete (specific) goals.
M = Measurable. Here lies another reason for setting specific goals. You will want to know when you have reached your goal or destination, so it needs to be specific. For example, to reach a point where you are able to save £250 a month is easy to measure as is walking two miles day. Each goal will be quantifiable or measurable, easy to know when you can put a tick against it to indicate you’ve achieved it.
A = Achievable. Don’t score an own goal with an unachievable goal. Ensure that it fits with your resources, skills and timing since setting goals that are beyond your reach is demotivating. If you don’t have the resources or skills, determine first how to access the resources and develop the skills or how to call on others who can provide the necessary skills.
R = Realistic. How realistic is the goal? This is different from achievable in that it is more about the process of attaining the goal. For example, do you have the time to pursue it now given the demands of your career and personal life? Have you put sufficient time aside regularly to work on it? It is more effective to work in a regular and planned way on a goal than to attack it in huge chunks of time on irregular occasions.
“Go gently with great goals; take lots of sure-footed steps to get there instead of attempting one giant leap!” (Lucy Seifert)
T = Timed. Slot in regular times on a planner to work towards your goals. Ensure the timing fits with your work and personal life so that it is easier to stick to the times you allocate for yourself.
Here are three examples of turning topics into SMART goals:
a) Topic – to change your diet.
b) Goal – to give up eating red meat by the end of the month.
a) Topic – to get rid of clutter.
b) Goal – to get rid of clutter in the spare bedroom in two weeks time in order to use it as a study.
a) Topic – become more proficient with languages.
b) Goal – to find and join an intermediate Spanish class before term starts.
Of course, each topic may contain several goals. By defining each well and prioritising your list of goals, you are more likely to realise them.
A SMART quiz
Here’s a short quiz to practise turning unclear into SMART goals. Can you reword these topics into goals?
1. To change career
2. To get really fit
3. To feel more socially confident
Now, list three SMART goals of your own
Now enter in your diary the dates you will achieve them and the dates and times you will work on them in order to achieve them.
Creating SMART goals helps you to focus upon what you want to achieve and provides a practical way to move forwards. Ensuring that your goals contain the SMART elements helps you to achieve positive change – both professionally and personally.