A goal is the achievement toward which effort is directed. (via dictionary.com). That is pretty self-explanatory. You have an achievement that you want to reach, and you must exert effort to get there. Goals are an important part of successful people’s lives. Just having goals is not enough if they are not SMART.
I trust that everyone reading this understands the importance of having goals. I have heard some say that they are content with what they have. They say they don’t really need goals. That is not content, that is complacent. It is possible to be content and still have BIG goals. Contentment vs. Complacency is a blog post for another day though. Today, I want to focus on having SMART goals.
There are several variations to this acronym out there, but this is the one that I have adopted as my own.
- Specific. In the networking group I attend we have a saying, “Specific is Terrific”. It is a corny saying that we all laugh about. It is so true though. Having vague ideas of things that you want to do, will not get you to where you want to go. You have to have a vivid picture in your mind of what your goal looks like. You do not have to know everything that will happen to get you there. You just have to know what it is. Take it down to the smallest possible detail that you can.
- Measurable. Now that you know specifically what you want to achieve, you need to make sure that you can measure how to get there. In every goal there are incremental landmarks that must be achieved along the way. Write those things down. A goal, mentally, is a lot easier to achieve if you write out all the measurable items that can get you there. For example do not say, “I need to save some money this month!”; say, “I am going to set aside $50 per week this month.”
- Action-focused. Half of the definition of a goal is that you have to exert effort. You can not exert effort with out action. Quite frankly action does not happen for most people with out it being planned. So when you are writing out your goal, use ACTION words. Use words that inspire you to move forward. For example do not say, “I need to save some money this month!”; say, “I AM GOING to SET ASIDE $50 per week this month.”
- Realistically Challenging. Realistic is sometimes a good excuse word for goal setting. I hear a lot that something is realistic when in fact, it is just challenging. It can be hard to know the difference. For the double amputee runner in the Olympics, it probably seemed unrealistic at some point in his life that he would be able to compete on the highest level of track and field. Obviously, that is not the case. It was just challenging. However, there are some things in life that are not realistic. I am short and almost 33 years old. I am not going to play in the NBA. That is NOT realistic. It is important that your goals be challenging, however. The only things worth achieving require some pain.
- Time-bound. I know I procrastinate on things that do not have have a time limit. If your goals are not bound by time, you will procrastinate on them. Not only should your whole goal have time limits, but each step in your goal should have a time limit. If your time limit expires before you reach your goal, you have a decision to make. You need to decide if it is still a goal that you want to achieve. If it is, set a new time limit. If it is not, scrap it. I am sure that you were still able to learn things from the experience. Also, there is no better time to stop wasting time on something that does not matter like right now!
I have been working on my goal setting. One of the goals that I am focusing on right now is becoming debt free. That goal is NOT easy, but it is SMART.
I encourage you all to evaluate the goals you have to make sure they are SMART. If you do not have written goals, GO, DO IT NOW!!!
What goals do you have? What did you have to add to them to make them SMART?