Setting goals is a very important practice. As the saying goes, if you fail you plan, you plan to fail. Often times, your success or failure largely depends on how well you set your goals. There are many good practices to follow to ensure effective goal setting. However sometimes it is hard to remember them all.
This problem can be solved by following the SMART goal setting principles; which is a set of goal setting guidelines that is easy to remember and follow. Especially during the time when your motivation is high and momentum is strong, you would want to quickly take advantage of that positive state and not get distracted trying to remember how you should do it. Using SMART goal setting can greatly help in this.
So What Are Smart Goals?
SMART goal setting stands for goals that are:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
Specific means the goal that you set must be explicit and clear. It cannot be vague like “My goal is to become healthier”. That is not clear or specific at all. Does it mean to lose weight or gain weight? Does it mean to develop stamina or strength? Does it mean to eat healthier foods? Does it mean to sleep earlier? What do you actually want to achieve? To ensure that your goals are specific, remember to answer the what, why, when, who and how of the goal.
Setting measurable goals simply means that the goal that you set should be in measurable parameters. Put it this way, if you can’t measure your goals, how can you even know if you’ve achieved it? Examples of measurable goals are – to lose 5 kilograms, to go running twice a week, to take up and complete a class on a new skill etc. For the goal to be measurable, ask yourself how will you know when the goal is achieved. If you are able to answer that, then the goal that you set is measurable. Having goals that are measurable also means you are able to see your progress and this can give you a much needed motivational boost.
The goals that you set must also be attainable, which means that it can be achieved. Some things are just impossible to attain – like for a tone deaf person to be a musician or someone really short to be a professional basketball player. However, apart from these there is a very fine line between what is attainable and what is not. The truth is, almost anything can be achieved if you have a very strong determination and put your heart and mind to it. History has seen this happen many times before. You can set really big, long term goals if you are confident of achieving it.
But always remember this, success is achieved one step at a time. If your goal is to be a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, first start with the goal of earning your first $1, then your first $100, then $1,000 and so on. Always dream big for your long term goals, but for your short term goals – set goals that are attainable at your current capability, skills and knowledge.
A realistic goal means the process of achieving the goal is realistic when considering the other aspects and demands of your life. For example, starting and building a profitable business is certainly an attainable goal, however if you are currently heavy in debt and have a family to support at the same time, that goal is unrealistic. What you need to do is to first take control your current situation before thinking of anything else. So even if a goal is ultimately attainable, it may not necessarily be realistic.
Finally make sure you set a time frame for the achievement of the goal. Without any time frame, you will only procrastinate taking action to achieve it as there’s no sense of urgency. When setting the time frame, don’t be overly ambitious and set unrealistic time frames. You also do not want to set too long a time frame as that will make you complacent and lose momentum. What you want is to set a time frame that gives you the right amount of positive pressure to push you. Set an overall time frame for achieving the goal as well as other shorter time frames for achieving the short and medium term milestones and targets.
So whenever you are doing any type of goal setting, just quickly remember about smart goal setting and you wont go wrong. It is easy to remember yet very effective at the same time.