Setting goals is something you probably do every day – “Today I will clean my room, be on time for work, and help out more at home,” but you may not always achieve those goals. It could be because the goal was unrealistic or because you didn’t have a plan. One way to accomplish your goals is to use the SMART technique.
Let’s do this together. Right now, grab a piece of blank paper and write down a goal. My goal for this exercise will be “I want to go to college.” Write down two goals if you want, or three. And they don’t have to be about school. They could be about a job, your relationship, or just life.
We’re going to use the SMART acronym to help us make our goal stronger, focused, and attainable. Here’s what SMART means:
S = SPECIFIC
M = MEASURABLE
A = ATTAINABLE or ACHIEVABLE
R = RELEVANT
T = TIMELY
Look at your goal as we go through this and make changes and edits. Here we go!
Be specific about what you want to accomplish. A specific goal should answer the five “Ws” by the time you’ve worked through it. What exactly do you want and why? Who might be involved besides yourself? Is there a specific location and when does this need to be completed. Use action words, be clear, and be specific.
My goal before SMART = I want to go to college.
My goal now = I want to go to college and graduate with a degree.
Think of your goal as a project. If you can’t measure it, how do you know if you succeeded in achieving it? For example, if your goal is to be a good baseball player, you need to consider what ‘good’ means? Do you want to reach a certain number of hits? Increase your RBI? Zero errors all season? Use something that can be measured or counted. And, your goal doesn’t have to be one sentence. Think of it as a plan. Consider the steps you’ll need to take to meet your goal. Then, measure your progress to stay on track. Each little step along the way becomes a victory as you work towards success.
My goal now = I want to graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree.
ATTAINABLE or ACHIEVABLE
Make sure your goals are reasonable. Would it be realistic to say, “I want to graduate college next year” if I haven’t even started yet? Get real. Goals that are important to you are worth doing, but don’t pick a goal so grand that you set yourself up for failure. If you haven’t already decided what steps you need to take to reach your goal, do it now.
Accomplishing those steps along the way will help you keep a positive attitude.
My goal now = I will graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree.
STEPS: Graduate from High School
Be accepted to college
Apply for scholarships to help pay for college
Stay enrolled. Ask for help if I’m having trouble with classes
Choose goals that matter to you and you’ll be motivated to reach them.
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, then your goal is important and relevant:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match my needs?
Am I the right person for this goal?
A goal should have a timeframe. Without a deadline, there’s no urgency to reach your goal. “Someday” is not an acceptable timeframe! Once you’ve established a deadline, you can set intermediate timelines along the way and re-evaluate if you need to. And then – get started! Stay focused and you will reach your goal on-time.
My goal now = I will graduate from college with a Bachelor’s degree by the age of 24.
STEPS: Graduate from High School : June 2013
Be accepted to college : April 2013
Complete my FAFSA to apply for financial aid : Jan. 2013
Apply for scholarships to help pay for college : Jan. 2013 – Aug. 2013, Jan. 2014, Jan. 2015, etc.
Stay enrolled. Ask for help if I’m having trouble with classes.
By now, your goal should be more than a few words. It should also be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Now, pin it up on the wall, or to the refrigerator and get to work.
In the next article about Goal Setting, we’ll go over the Top 10 ways to achieve EVERY goal you set for yourself!