Anyone who has ambition or vision for their life gets frustrated when it seems that they are just “spinning their wheels.” When it feels like you are not moving forward, you can easily become anxious, depressed and discontent.
Many people who juggle multiple commitments tend to give themselves too much “flexibility” in making progress that they fail to set focused goals to help them stay on track. This is a hindrance to your overall growth and development, which is why implementing SMART Goals are a must for anyone looking to push forward in any area of their lives.
What Are SMART Goals?
In our Google Maps and GPS driven world, can you imagine how hard it would be finding a new destination without any guide?
That’s basically what SMART goals do. Once you understand your ultimate end point, SMART goals provide the ‘road map’ through metrics and targets to help you stay in the right direction.
SMART Goals are objectives you create based on a structured outline to help you plot the important milestones and trajectory on the journey to your end goal.
Setting SMART goals is a method used widely in corporate and business settings ( where I first learned them), but are a perfect goal metric system to implement in your personal life, as well.
The idea of SMART goals originated in 1981 by corporate business consultant George T. Doran in a paper titled “ There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”
I know you don’t care too much about that fun fact, but now you know the origins of the acronym in case you ever wind up on Jeopardy.
What Does the SMART Goal Setting Acronym Stand For?
When writing a goal, you need to make sure it’s specific. Vague goals give you too much leeway and make it much more challenging to focus on the tasks you really need to be completing. Ask yourself the basic five W questions:
- Who– Is this an individual goal? A team goal? Name the people involved.
- What– Don’t be afraid of specifics. What is the goal in its most detailed form.
- When– A general timeline is okay here… you will address this more in the “Timely
- Where– If a location ( digital counts, too) is involved, then you can consider it. This may not always be applicable.
- Why– What is the purpose is this goal going to serve? What do you hope to see accomplished if it is completed?
You may not need to answer all of these, but by reflecting on each one, you should be able to develop a specific goal that is in line with your ultimate vision.
“I am going to start an online business.”
“By 2020, I will have an online business that nets $50,000 a year.”
How are you going to quantify your progress and gauge if your efforts are effective?
In the example listed above, adding the net income goal provides a tangible measurement that you can utilize to gauge whether or not you reached your goal and, if you fall short, how short are you? This will help you determine if you need minor tweaks or major changes when you attempt again.
A- Acheivable ( or Attainable)
Sometimes, we set goals that are so lofty, they are not realistic.
Don’t get me wrong…I am all for dreaming big dreams. But, don’t fall prey into dreaming so big right away that you become frustrated when you can’t get there immediately. ( I am totally guilty of this, btw).
Instead, be realistic with your time, energy and resources.
Make sure your goal is achievable and then use that achieved goal as the stepping stone to a larger, loftier one.
Sometimes, the R can be referred to as realistic, which ties this aspect of the acronym very closely to our “A”—achievable and attainable.
But, relevance adds a whole new layer to the goal. Think about it. Do you actually want to achieve your goal?
It sounds silly. Immediately you may think “ Of course! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have made up the goal!”
But, really think about it. Make sure it is what you want and relevant to what you really want your life and business to look like years down the road.
For example, a few years back I had the goal of going to law school. I studied for months for the LSAT, took the test…got accepted into law school AND paid the seat deposit.
Then, after thinking long and hard, I questioned why I wanted to attend. When I searched my soul, I realized it wasn’t because I wanted to be a lawyer. I was prideful and wanted the letters that went with it. I didn’t want to go deep in debt and spend that much time away from my family in school. The goal did not match up with what I wanted my life to look like…and if I had not really taken time to consider my motives, we would not have ended up in Florida…I would not have fallen into my education career, earned my M.Ed through a much more reasonably priced and time-flexible program and you would likely not be reading this post.
Think about your long term vision. Does this goal help you get there?
How long are you giving yourself to reach this goal?
You HAVE to set a deadline. Without a deadline, you will keep pushing off the tasks needed to move towards your goal and get bogged down in the day-to-day.
Make sure your deadline is realistic. You likely can’t write a thesis in 48 hours. But, if you are taking two months to write that same thesis, set the deadline and then set some intervals with other mini-deadlines to keep you chugging along.
How Do You Write A SMART Goal?
After you understand each aspect of the acronym, then developing your SMART goals is fairly straightforward.
Depending on your goal, not every component may be necessary. However, you should be realistic and thoughtful in your development.
In the above example, “online virtual assistant business” is fairly specific. You have a target date of 6 months to meet the goal and the measurement of clients and revenue to gauge your success. The relevant and achievable components are in the background as you determine if this goal would be achievable for you.