Are you stuck in a cycle of setting goals but struggling to reach them? If this is the case, you most likely need to improve how your setting goals.
Goal setting is important – it can help to motivate you, keep you focused, and can teach you a lot about yourself.
Failing to reach a goal can be discouraging, but setting a SMART goal will keep you on the right path when it comes to achieving your goals.
Setting SMART goals can help you to clarify your ideas, add structure to your goals, and increase the likelihood of you reaching the goal.
Keep reading to learn all about SMART goals, and how to effectively set SMART goals to reach your objectives.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (or Realistic), and Time-Bound.
Using the SMART framework ensures that you’re setting the right goals in the best possible way, increasing the chances of success.
Applying SMART goals to your life can help you identify where you want to be, and can help you get there.
SMART goals eliminate the vagueness and guesswork from goal-setting and can help to add structure to your ambition.
They are essentially organised goals – goals that are specific and relevant, and that are measurable and set to a time limit.
Goals can be difficult to track, but setting a SMART goal makes it easier than ever to track your progress and identify milestones.
How Do I Set Smart Goals?
So, now you know what exactly SMART goals are, it’s time to implement them into your life and start setting goals that you’ll reach. Read on to find out how you can effectively set SMART goals.
Make It Specific
The first stage of setting a SMART goal is ensuring that your goal is specific. Setting generic or vague goals can be difficult to track and reach – whereas setting specific goals can make it easier to achieve success.
Many people make the mistake of setting goals that are too vague – for example, a vague goal might be ‘I want to lose weight’.
A specific goal should answer certain questions. For example, who is going to be responsible for the goal? What are your objectives? When will you start your efforts? And how are you going to reach the goals?
Instead of ‘I want to lose weight’, take some time to narrow the goal down.
A specific goal could be ‘I want to lose 10lbs in a month – and I will achieve this by ___’, or ‘I want to lose 3% of my body fat’.
Make It Measurable
An effective goal should be measurable – you should be able to quantify a goal. This can help you to track your progress, and celebrate when you reach certain milestones.
For example, if your goal is to get better at running, add some figures that will allow you to measure your goal and track your progress.
Instead of simply getting better at running, make it specific and measurable – ‘I want to be able to run 10 kilometres’.
You can then narrow this down, and set smaller milestones such as running 500m, and then running a kilometre.
This is sure to keep you focused and encouraged, and you can celebrate whenever you manage to run a kilometre, then when you can run two kilometres, etc.
Make It Achievable
Although it can be helpful to set your heights high, it’s generally best to set more realistic goals to begin with, and then modify the goal as you reach it.
You may think that setting goals that aren’t achievable will motivate you – and it might – but more often than not, you’ll become unmotivated if you struggle to reach them.
For example, a goal such as ‘I want to save £1,000 every month’ may be achievable if you’re on a high salary, but if you’re only earning £1,500 or so a month, then you won’t reach the goal, and you’ll likely give up on the first hurdle.
Goals are subjective, and what is achievable for some may not be achievable for others.
You should always tailor your goals to your situation and circumstances. If you earn £1,500 per month, having a goal of saving £300 a month could be more achievable.
Make It Relevant and Realistic
All goals should have a purpose. Before setting a goal, consider why you’re setting the goal, and what you hope to achieve from reaching the goal.
Again, your goals should be personal, and what is relevant to others may not apply to yourself.
If you’re already happy in your job and your role, then it won’t really be relevant to have a goal of getting a new job or changing career paths.
The ‘R’ in SMART goals can also stand for realistic, which ties into our previous point.
Take some time to thoroughly consider your goal – how likely are you to reach it? What obstacles will you face along the way?
If you’re going to make the effort to reach your goal, then you should make sure that the goal is worth it.
Make It Time-Bound
Goals should have a timeline – having a deadline for a goal can motivate you to succeed.
However, if you fail to reach to meet your goal, you could always extend the deadline – but ask yourself why you haven’t reached the goal. Did you set the deadline too early? What were the obstacles? Did your goal follow the SMART framework?
Failure doesn’t always have to be a bad thing – it can be a powerful motivator. There’s nothing wrong with resetting your goal as long as you assess what went wrong the first time around.
It may be beneficial to narrow the goal down, and set smaller deadlines for you to reach before the final deadline. For example, having a goal to make £10,000 may be difficult to keep track of, and you may become unmotivated.
However, adding smaller milestones is sure to keep you focused on the end result – so set monthly milestones that you can reach to help you stick to your plan.
Setting smaller milestones can also give you something to celebrate when you reach them, which can be rewarding and motivating.
Mark is a multi-award winner in business networking and relationship building. He is passionate about coaching and mentoring business owners and professionals through 1-1 & group coaching, team performance workshops and group mastermind sessions.