S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that means specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive. Life coaches, businesses and sports people are just some of those who use it to achieve their goals because it works.
- Be specific
Don’t be vague. What exactly do you want? Begin by giving your inspirations and ideas some form. Write them down. Identify your reasons for doing what you want to do. Ask yourself why you are setting the goal, or why you set it in the first place. What is it that really drives you? Use your answers as motivators when you have to face the challenges ahead. Being specific helps you chart your progress and it makes your goals more tangible. Keep the following in mind:
- what you are doing,
- who is involved,
- what is involved,
- how you will do it,
- where you will do it,
- how long it will take,
- why you will do it,
- how much it will cost,
- how much effort it will need,
- the quality of the goal
- uncontrollable external forces, such as change, loss, illness, grief, death, taxes, economic forces or natural disasters.
- Make it Measurable
Quantify your goal. How will you know if you’ve achieved it or not? When you write down your goals it programs your goals into your mind and opens you up to infinite and unlimited possibilities. It helps you recognise further opportunities for attaining them. Express success and the achievement of your goal and what it means to you in ways you can measure, touch or count. For example, if you wanted to be an artist, then how would you do this? What form will your art take? How many people do you want to buy your art? What type of people are they? Where can they be found? How will you tell them or ask them? When or how often do you want to do this? Do you have the skills to do it? What do you need to do to obtain these skills? Do you want to be employed or self -employed?
- Make it Attainable
Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life. Remember to take into account your current responsibilities. The path to almost every goal in life is not a straight line. There are often many side steps. What do you need to do to get to where you want to be? Avoid self-sabotage by breaking your goals into bite sized chunks. Outline individual steps which can be tackled one at a time. Starting small makes your goals believable and achievable, and instead of overwhelming or confusing you get the practice you need for achieving the larger goals later on. Too often, it is easy to become paralysed or stuck because you expect too much too soon from yourself and others.
- Be Realistic
Your goal has to be do-able, real and practical. To stay on track, develop a strategy. What do you need to learn in order to accomplish your goal? Do your research. Collect relevant information and use it. Do you need extra qualifications? Identify the people who can assist you. Are there individuals, specialist mentors, coaches, groups, communities or organisations with similar visions and goals that can help you?
- Work with Time
Create a timeline for projects and a timeframe for each goal you make. When should you complete the goal? Set a date and do what you need to do to work towards it. Make yourself accountable. Ask someone you trust to hold you to account.
The best way to check if your goal is SMART is to write it down and check that it covers each SMART aspect. For example, a theoretical target may be to:
‘Lose weight and drop a dress size.’
How, what, why, when, where are the type of questions you can ask to help you make your goals SMART. Does this goal meet the criteria for being SMART?
This goal is not specific enough. How will you lose weight? Will you modify your diet? If so, what type of diet will it be? Will it focus on simple calorie counting, high protein, low carbohydrates and sugars or low fat? How much will you eat? Will you use exercise only to reduce your weight? How often will you exercise? What type of exercise?
Is it measurable? Well almost, because you can measure the dress size, but how much weight do you actually want to lose?
Is it achievable? Are you asking too much of yourself? This aspect will be met once you decide how much actual weight you want to lose.
Is it realistic? Once again, when you decide how you are going to do this you will know if it is realistic or not.
Is it time based? No, not at all because you have not set a start or end date. You will need to change your goal to something like this:
‘Lose 6 kilograms of weight using a calorie controlled diet of 1200 per day, plus 30 minutes of exercise (walking and on alternate days, yoga) over 6 days per week in order to drop a dress size within three months, that’s 90 days, starting today. This means I can realistically aim to lose 2 kilograms per month, and that’s only 500 grams per week. That’s very achievable. I can do it.’
Now you’re being SMART. Once your strategy is complete, you’re ready to move forward again. You’ve rediscovered your passion and motivation. You’re ready for action. You want to be able to feel it, sense it, taste it and touch it. You want your goal to become a reality. Visualising your goal targets your focus, and that means you are directing your spirit like a laser into the desired outcome. It gives you the energetic support you need to reach your goals.
Be clear and definite about what you want. Do what you have to do now and every day to get there. Ideas don’t work unless you do.
Cognology , (2015), Smart Goals [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.cognology.com.au/learning_center/howtowritesmartobj/ [Accessed 29 August 2016].
By Gail Goodwin © 2016