You no doubt want to live the best life you could possibly live by reaching your full potential and achieving all your dreams. Oftentimes however, you probably find yourself overwhelmed by daily events which seem to just keep getting in the way. These obstacles push any goals that you’ve set for yourself all the way to the back burner, and then, unsurprisingly, those goals either get forgotten or abandoned. One big reason why this happens is because the foundation of those goals, or how they were established, is lacking in the fundamental principles which will make achieving them a success. Setting SMART goals is one surefire way to transform dreams into reality, help you to obtain all that you desire, and live an awesome life.
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The SMART Goal Setting Process explained
SMART is an acronym which stands for setting goals which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Actionable), Relevant (or Realistic), and Timely (or Time-Bound). Setting SMART goals is one of the basic requirements of popular time management training principles.
In helping to explain how the process works, we are going to use weight loss as an example of something that you may want to achieve. We will use this scenario to see what can be done to ensure that a goal surrounding weight loss is set in a SMART way.
- Specific – Your goals should be clearly defined. This means that the goals should state exactly what it is that you want to accomplish. Establishing goals that are not ambiguous or vague avoids confusion and can help you to decide on what steps you need to take in order to get what you want. When trying to be specific with your goal, think of this as creating a goal mission statement. Try to provide answers to the 4 “w’s” below:
- Who – Consider who needs to be involved in achieving your goals. Are you doing this alone or do you need help from somebody else? Do you need an accountability partner for example?
- What – Be as detailed as possible on what you are trying to accomplish
- When – By when do you want to accomplish your goal? This is further elaborated in the time-bound component of goal setting.
- Why – What is the reason for your goal?
Using our example of weight loss, being specific with this goal could mean that you want to get rid of 10 pounds of body fat and shrink your waistline by at least 1 inch.
- Measurable – When setting goals, it is critical that you know how you will measure your progress. This means deciding on which metrics you will use to determine if you meet those goals.
Using our weight loss example again, you could measure your progress towards achieving this goal by simply weighing on a scale and using the tape measure to determine the circumference of your waist.
- Achievable (or Actionable)– Your goals must be something that you can take action towards achieving. Breaking goals into actionable chunks can greatly help with this process by minimizing risk and reducing your fear of failure. Also, focusing on how important a goal is to you and what you can do to make it attainable may require developing new skills and changing attitudes. But don’t be disheartened by that. Goals are meant to inspire motivation, not to discourage you. You just need to think about how to accomplish your goals and determine if you have the necessary tools and/or skills. If you don’t currently possess those tools and/or skills, consider what it would take to attain them, and factor that into your goal setting.
We could make our weight loss example achievable by indicating what you will do to achieve the desired result. You could probably mention that you will go to the gym and perform either cardio, aerobic or weight-lifting exercises 3 times per week for 30 minutes each session.
- Relevant (or Realistic) – Your goals may be difficult but not impossible to achieve and must make sense within the broader picture of what you want to accomplish with your life. Let’s face it, nobody wants to set goals just for the sake of setting them. There should therefore be a real benefit attached to reaching and achieving your goals. You should evaluate why these goals are important to you. Once you have identified this key benefit, it is beneficial to incorporate that into your actual goals.
In our weight loss example, we could indicate that losing weight is good for your health and will make you feel more confident about yourself.
- Timely (or Time-bound) – This last component in SMART goal setting has to do with ensuring that you set a schedule and a deadline for achieving your goals. This forces you to become committed to the task. Also, when you have a deadline, it becomes much clearer for you to see what actions must be taken in order to achieve your goals. You should ask specific questions about the deadline such as what can be reasonably accomplished within that time period. It may also be quite beneficial if you establish mini goals or milestones which must be accomplished along the way to achieving that bigger goal. These additional time constraints can also create a greater sense of urgency and propel you to achieve your goals even faster.
In finalizing the goal for our weight loss example, we could make it timely by stating that our desired result must be obtained by the end of the year and no later.
Other Considerations when Setting SMART goals
Now that you know how to set SMART goals, here are some other things that, if incorporated correctly, can significantly increase your goal setting process:
- Think outside of the box and don’t be afraid to dream big when setting your goals. Goals that are developed this way will push you to keep going even when the going gets tough.
- Identify negative habits and beliefs that are currently holding you back from achieving your goals and kick them to the curb.
- Feel empowered by your goals to believe in yourself and follow through on what you want to accomplish.
- Use visualization, meditation, and gratitude to your advantage while ensuring that your goals resonate with you or have a direct connection with your WHY for setting your goals. The fear of failure can be paralyzing, but you should try not to be afraid of what the path ahead may look like but embrace the unknown with curiosity and excitement.
- Place your feelings at the core of your goals and be inspired to achieve them. Emotion is a necessary catalyst to move you towards your desired outcome due to its innate connection with your innermost desires. Having emotion at the core will motivate you to readjust if things do not go according to plan.
Many people set goals in the wrong manner, while many people do not even set goals at all. Don’t be one of those people who don’t set goals, and when setting goals, do it the SMART way.
Setting goals correctly and achieving them, can rid your life of unwanted things such as disappointment, embarrassment, anxiety and stress. Utilizing the SMART goal setting process can lead to amazing results!
Please leave a comment below and let me know how you progress with setting your own SMART goals!