SMART Goals – Quick Overview


Regardless, if it is professional or personal we all struggle sometimes to achieve our goals. Many times our struggle is not because of a lack of effort, but rather how our goals have been structured. Anytime you set a goal if you find yourself struggling while working towards a goal keep in mind the word SMART. SMART is an acronym that can be used to help evaluate and add structure to your goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound. SMART begins with asking yourself the degree to which a goal is specific. This is arguably the most important part of establishing Or evaluating a goal. The less specific a goal the more difficult it is to determine how long the goal should take to complete or how to measure success. Consider the difference between a goal to get healthy versus the goal to lose weight versus the goal to lose 10 pounds. The goal to get healthy is much less specific than a goal to lose 10 pounds. The next question to ask, How is the goal measured? What determines success? Some goals may be best measured by a simple yes-or-no, such as the goal of climbing to the top of a mountain, While other goals are better measured by using metrics such as the goal to lose 10 pounds. The key to measurement is making sure that in whatever way the goal is measured, it accurately reflects success. For instance, if you do not have access to a scale then measuring weight loss will be difficult and less accurate. An alternative measure may be to track how many inches you have lost around the waist. But, to what extent does this accurately reflect the goal? Without access to a reliable way of measuring weight, we may want to consider buying a scale or restructuring our goal. Actionable is not asking yes or no, but how will the goal be achieved? What is our action plan? Do we have the resources and capabilities required to achieve success? If not, What are we lacking? Well designed goals provide clarity of action. If the actions required to achieve a goal are unclear or there are a large number of actions That need to be taken, we should consider breaking down the main goal into manageable, actionable sub-goals. In isolation any single goal is relevant, but in life we most often are in the process of pursuing multiple goals. A common issue we face, is having too many goals at the same time, or pursuing the wrong goals. With this in mind We need a mechanism to help us monitor our goals to make sure we are pursuing our most relevant goals at any given moment in time. One technique is to place goals in a matrix that looks at effort required versus perceived value of achieving the goal. Not always, but most of the time we will want to focus our energy on low effort high value goals. Another technique is to use the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. Ask, which are the 20% of goals that will provide me with 80% of my return? The last thing we want to make sure is that goals are time bound. By including a specific date by which a goal should be accomplished, it helps provide incentive and allows us to monitor progress. Consider the difference between the goal to lose 10 pounds and the goal to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks. Simply by including an element of time we can now calculate how much we should be losing each week, and if after 5 weeks We have only lost one pound, we can revisit our action plan. Be wary of any goal that is open-ended such as the common goal to learn a foreign language. Last is important to reinforce that goal-setting is not an event, it is an ongoing process of action, evaluation, and revision. It is not about lowering goals or standards to ensure success. It is about recognizing goals are dynamic, because life is dynamic. We do not live in a static world. Life happens. A goal that is relevant today may be irrelevant tomorrow. When using SMART, stay flexible and motivated by setting aside time to reevaluate your goals on a regular basis.

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