Setting SMART goals is a powerful strategy for reaching your desired goals. The SMART goals acronym has been around for some time, However, at a recent training I was at when the question was asked ‘What are smart goals?’, very few people were prepared to say what they understood by SMART goals or how to set smart goals.
There are many acronyms to help with setting goals. Although some people will say SMART goals are outdated. The fact is setting SMART goals is a good place to start when you are setting your personal goals.
Understand What Is Meant by SMART Goals.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.
- S – specific or significant
- M – Measurable or meaningful
- A – Attainable or Achievable
- R – Relevant or realistic
- T – Time-bound or Timely
Your goal is specific stating what you wish to accomplish. When you write your goals answer the five ‘W’ questions.
Who, What, When, Which, Why.
You do not need to write all five ‘W’ questions but do think about how they relate to your goal. As you write a SMART goal you will see how the five ‘W’ questions are answered in your goal sentence.
The goal should be specific and focused on a single outcome.
Example of a specific goal relating to health: I want to lose weight so that I do not have pain in my knees when I walk.
Your goal is quantifiable so you can track your progress. A measurable goal enables you to answer how you will know you have reached your goal or are on track to reach your goal. The goal answers ‘How’.
How much, how many, and how to know that you have accomplished your goal?
Example of a measurable goal relating to weight loss; I want to lose 12 kgs
Your goal is realistic and attainable.
One of the most important aspects to consider when setting a goal is to make sure that it is achievable. It’s a great way to ensure short and long-term success.
The question here is how likely is it you can achieve the goal. The goal needs to be one that you can achieve.
When looking if a goal is attainable I like to plan how I can achieve the goal. Do I have the time and the resources to take action to achieve my goal?
Identify any practical steps you need to take in order for your goal to be accomplished and plan how you are going to get there. Remember it is the small daily positive habits that lead to achieving goals.
Your goal needs to be relevant. Your goal needs to align with your core values and personal life vision.
How relevant is this goal to your main goal? Will pursuing this goal help you achieve your life goals?
Is the timing right for this goal?
Is this goal your personal goal? A goal needs to be your goal, not one that someone else has given you to achieve.
Occasionally in group challenges or at work, a goal may be assigned to you. To achieve these goals you need to own them and personalise them to be your own SMART goal. It will need to link to your bigger picture for one of your life areas.
Your goal needs to have a deadline. Ask yourself ‘When do I want to achieve this goal?’ Give your goal target date.
Can you achieve the goal realistically in the time frame?
Will the goal take 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year or 10 years? Can you give your goal a deadline?
When I decided at the age of 49 to go to University to study, I knew I was setting a long-term goal and that It would take at least 6 years. While studying I created mini-study goals for each semester to help me stay on track.
- Breaking down your goal into manageable steps will make it easier to identify the smaller tasks that need to be completed in order to reach the desired outcome.
- Create a timeline with a checklist of action items.
- Identify deadlines for each individual task
- Assign the tasks priority levels depending on importance.
- Modify your plan as needed as things progress.
- Keep your bigger goal in sight. To do this I like to visualise which includes having my main goal on my vision board.
SMART goal-setting helps ensure your goals are measurable, achievable and concise.
Write your goal statement using SMART
Once you have reviewed the questions write your goal statement using SMART. A goal statement includes;
- An action verb – To read
- A quantifiable and measurable statement – What – A book on personal values and goal setting.
- Time-bound – Throughout 2023
- What will the outcome do for you? – Increase my knowledge of personal values and goal setting.
Here are a few examples showing how to write a smart goal.
Health Goal: To lose 12 kgs by 1st September 2023 so that I feel healthier and do not have pain in my knees when walking.
Relationship Goal: To make time to get to know new people, by participating in local workshops every 2 months.
Spirituality Goal: To practise mindfulness activities daily so that I have inner peace.
Finance Goal: To save $8000 by 1st August 2023 so I can travel overseas to see family and friends.
Blogging Goal: To increase my blog traffic on LifestyleAnytime.com.au to 50K per month by December 2023.
Writing Goal: To write the first draft of a personal development book on goal setting by December 2023.
Personal Growth Goal: To read 1 book every month throughout 2023 on personal values or goal setting.
Get Clear on what you want to Achieve.
Before you start, it’s important to take the time to get clear on what you want to achieve. Ask yourself questions like why is this goal important and what do I hope to gain from achieving this goal. Once you have a clear idea of your goals, write your SMART goal statement and create a goal plan. In your goal plan, break down the goals into smaller achievable actions so there are fewer obstacles in your way.
Breaking your goal down into smaller actions will help to keep you motivated and make sure that every action leads you closer towards reaching your goal. This article on 12 Simple Daily Habits has an infographic on how small changes lead to big gains in achieving goals.
By setting clear and achievable goals, you’re more likely to stay motivated and achieve success. Get the SMART goals template to help you set smart goals.