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Having goals is an awesome thing because it enforces this idea of personal growth or personal development. Goals can be personal, financial, spiritual, etc. It doesn’t matter the goal, but it does matter that you have the right tools in place to achieve success.
Research has also shown that simply setting goals can change the way your brain functions in order to achieve them. According to Inc, “goal-setting literally changes the structure of your brain so that it’s optimized to achieve that goal“. So in a way, by establishing a goal, you’re already on your way! Now it’s time to make them smart!
That is where S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play. I first learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals at a work where the focus was professional development. Leadership encouraged this by ensuring the goals we created were S.M.A.R.T. so we could actually achieve them.
Honestly, S.M.A.R.T. goals are not only needed in a professional environment but they are great to establish in your personal life too.
I wanted to also point out that while having goals is a great thing, sometimes it can be daunting to work through.
It can be difficult to get organized with your goals and actually feel like success is within an arm’s reach. It’s like you know where you want to go or what you want to do, but actually getting it done is a totally different conversation. Trust me, I get it.
Your goals, no matter what they are, are important and should be treated as such. They need to be nurtured and planned out so it is easier for you to achieve them.
No one wants to take forever and a day to achieve their goals, or worst case, not achieve them at all.
That’s where S.M.A.R.T. goals come into play! If you hadn’t noticed yet, S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that is broken out into 5 parts. Each part represents a different piece of the puzzle in establishing your goals.
You don’t want to skip out on any piece when you are creating your goals. Goals need to make sense to us and these steps will help you achieve the success you are looking for. So let’s break this down, piece by piece.
S is for Specific
The first step in creating your goals is making sure they are specific. This where you remove the gray area and get black and white with what you’re trying to achieve.
This means that the goal cannot be broad such as “I want to get healthy“. While great in theory, it doesn’t help you create the blueprint to actually getting healthy. You need an actionable plan in order to achieve your goals.
Instead, think of being specific by saying instead, “I want to get healthy and lose 10 pounds so I can feel better physically”. You see how that is way more specific and gives you a crisp idea of what you can expect? Specificity is crucial in establishing the right goals for yourself.
And by being specific, you get to become more honest with yourself about exactly what it is that you want. You also will be able to identify why the goal is important to you and why you’re trying to accomplish it.
M is for Measurable
How will you measure the steps that it will take to reach your goal? For example, let’s stick with the goal–“I want to get healthy and lose 10 pounds so I can feel better physically“. That sounds better but how do we measure that you’re healthier?
Is it simply by the weight loss or is there another metric you want to use to gauge how successful you are? By establishing how you will measure your success, you will be more aligned with the end goal.
So to make your goal measurable, you should think of ways that you can actually track your progress. In this example, you can measure your success by weight loss, increased muscle mass, lower blood pressure, etc.
There are so many ways that you can measure your goal, so just make it clear on how you can tell if you’re actually being successful.
Try asking yourself this, “what can I do or use to know that the goal is accomplished?” Once you ask this and define it around your goals, it now becomes something measurable!
A is for Attainable or Achievable
It’s important to have goals, again, no matter what they are. But this part is where we have to reign in reality. Yep, maybe not the most fun part but very much necessary.
You want to make sure the goal that you are establishing is actually reasonable and can be accomplished in whatever time-frame you have identified. (I’ll get to this soon!) The goal has to be attainable!
For example, let’s say I changed the original goal of losing 10 pounds to instead losing 25 pounds in one month. Sounds great on paper but it’s very unrealistic and honestly probably unhealthy for the average person.
Goals can sound great all they want in theory, but it needs to be achievable.
If you realize that you can’t achieve a certain goal in x time-frame, try to take a step back and tackle the smaller goals that will get you to your big goal. This is NOT a set back, but it’s setting the foundation so you can better prepare for your bigger goals.
Every step forward, no matter how small, is still forward movement!
R is for Relevant
Having goals that are relevant to your larger, long-term goals are very important for achieving the vision you have for yourself.
The goals you establish for yourself should make sense for whatever it is you envision your life to look like. Whether it is personal, relational, or even professional, your goals should make sense and connect to other things you hope to accomplish.
The questions you should ask yourself is “why this goal is important for me?” or “how will achieving this goal help me in another area of my life?“
For example, I recently decided to stop drinking alcohol because I wanted to focus on becoming a better and stronger runner. In this, i have two goals, to stop drinking and become a better runner. By me reducing my alcohol intake, it is a relevant goal for me to achieve my other goals.
It’s all about connecting the dots my friend!
Take the time to make sure your goals help you achieve the other goals you have in your life. They are all stepping stones to living out the vision that you see for yourself.
T is for Time-based
Remember I mentioned timing before, well this is all about creating goals that are time-based. You should be asking yourself, “how long will it take me to achieve my goals? what time frame is realistic for my goals?”
It doesn’t matter as long as it follows the above steps by being specific, measurable, relevant, and achievable (or attainable). It’s important that your goal is time-based because you will be able to track your progress along the way.
You will also be able to quickly identify if you’re close to the finish line or still have to put in more work. Either way, being in the know during each phase of your goal is crucial!
Achieving your goals requires work and dedication. You want to be able to prioritize what comes first and what you can hold off doing. Time is pretty much important in every facet of our lives, so it is equally important in crushing your goals!
I truly believe that having goals is a beautiful thing because it creates the foundation for personal development and improvement. And I am here to tell you that it’s possible for you to hit your goals as long as you have the tools and resources in place to do so.
So make sure that you are creating S.M.A.R.T. goals so you can really cut out all the BS and get down and dirty with the reality of what you’re about to do. It will help you stay organized and on task to achieve your most wildest dreams!