Proper goal setting is a skill. Luckily, it can be an easy skill to learn if you have the right tools.
Have you heard of the term SMART Goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym to help test your goals to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success. If you want to be skilled in setting goals and building success habits, then always use this test to tell if your goals are S.M.A.R.T.
Specific – What exactly are you trying to achieve?
The first place people fail when setting goals is by making them too vague or broad. When choosing a goal it needs to be definitive in terms of the who, what, why, when, and how. This allows you to make better decisions and plans that are aligned with your goal.
For example, simply saying ‘I want to make more money.’
How much is more to you? How quickly do you need this money? What are you using the money for? Is it from your full-time job or a side job? Without these answers, you can’t choose which behaviors to prioritize to make sure you achieve the goal.
Measurable – How are you determining success?
When your goal is measurable it makes it easier to know if you’re making progress and hold yourself accountable if you’re not. A measurement could be the time you are willing to commit to an activity, the frequency it occurs, or an amount.
Instead of saying, ‘I want to make more money,’ you could say I want to earn $100 more dollars each week.
Attainable – Is it within your control?
The goal has to be something you can reasonably accomplish. That means focusing on the things that are within your control vs things that are not.
It also means being honest with yourself about your skills and time available to commit to the goal.
For instance, one way to make more money is to get a raise, but ask yourself: have you already been talking with your boss about what you should be doing in order to get a raise? Do you know the budget and timing of when raises get approved? Do you have the skills that are needed to earn the type of raise you want?
Relevant- How does this goal fit into your vision?
When you think of relevancy you want to ask yourself why you’re working towards this goal. How does it contribute to the overall vision for your life or values?
If the goal is arbitrary then it will be easier for you to give up.
Make sure the goal is about what you want rather than trying to compete with someone else.
If you want to earn more money, what is that going to help you accomplish in your life? For example, are you saving for something specific or are you trying to pay off debt? Are you wanting to move to a new place, or have more expendable money?
Timely – When should this goal be completed?
Again, think about how much time you want to spend on this goal, and how quickly you want to achieve it. The timing of the goal makes a big difference in your mindset around achieving it.
Is it too soon to where it stresses you out about achieving it? Is it too far in the future that you are procrastinating and not taking it seriously? If either of these is true, reframe your goal or set multiple goals with better timing.
Here are some examples of S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Not this: I want to make more money.
But this: I want to earn $100 per week by driving Lyft on the weekends for the next 8 weeks to save money to buy a new laptop to help my productivity working from home.
Not this: I want to improve my communication skills.
But this: I will speak up in the next 3 meetings we have at work about a topic I am familiar with so that I can practice using my voice and gain more confidence.
Not this: I want people to see me as a team player.
But this: I will check-in with at least 4 of my teammates at work once a week for the next 4 weeks to ask if they need assistance with anything.
Use this test to review your current goals.
Are they S.M.A.R.T.?
If not, take the time to reframe them or break them up into something that you can actually achieve. Not only will you start to make faster progress, but you will change your mindset around goals.
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