Setting SMART goals for success
Do you ever find yourself in this quandary? You have something you want to do. Maybe you want to travel and need to save money, or maybe you want to lose ten pounds before the reunion in a few months – whatever it is that you want to do, you are determined to stick to your guns and get it done. You might read a book or a blog about whatever you want to do so that you have some idea about how to do it. You might also talk to friends, family, or coworkers for inspiration or support. You jump in with both feet and read, buy, do, etc. Next thing you know, it’s been six months and you have very little to show for the time and effort you’ve spent on this something that you so adamantly wanted to do. How did that happen?
I’ll tell you how it happened, because I’ve been there, done that and bought the t-shirt to prove it. I am the queen of getting an idea, quickly becoming passionate about it, and diving in head first without a care in the world. Yep, that’s my M.O. Not only do I find myself having not made much (if any) progress down the road, but I also find myself feeling deflated and frustrated with myself for my hasty choices.
Here’s what I know though. When I set SMART goals around something I decide to do – be it losing a few pounds or taking up a new hobby – I see much better results than I do when I fail to prepare. Have you ever heard the saying “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail”? Makes sense, doesn’t it?
So here’s how you remedy that. Plan some SMART goals to get you onyour way.
SMART goals are:
1. Specific. Make sure you are very clear about your goal. Rather than “I want to get in shape,” you could use “I will do cardio exercise to get in shape.”
2. Measureable. You want to be able to see how far you’ve come, right? So you need to add something to measure your goal. You can expand your goal to, “I will do cardio for 30 minutes three times a week.”
3. Attainable. Is achieving your goal within your power? Can you learn the skills necessary to attain your goal? Is there ample time, space, money, resources available for you to pursue this goal? These are questions that you should carefully consider when making your goals. For instance, do you have enough room in your living space to exercise? Do you have enough time in your day? Are there things you’re willing to sacrifice to work on this goal?
4. Realistic. Is your goal within reason? Here’s a good example. Let’s say you’re currently a couch potato who rarely if ever breaks a sweat. Is it realistic to make your goal to run an eight minute mile by next month? Probably not. A more realistic goal would be the goal I mentioned earlier, thirty minutes of cardio three times a week.
5. Timely. Your goal needs to be based around a timeframe. It’s not enough to say you want to do cardio exercise for thirty minutes three times a week. You also need to define when you will evaluate your progress and set a new goal. So how about expanding your goal to “I will do cardio exercise for thirty minutes three days a week for one month.
See how clear your new goal is? Now, in one month you can evaluate where you are with your goal. Are you able to do a solid thirty minutes of cardio? Is it getting too easy for you now? Can you consistently do three days a week? Are you ready to do four or five days a week now? This goal setting process works well if you do it and repeat it. I’ll be the first one to say it’s not always easy to stick to your SMART goal. Life has a funny way of sidetracking you. However, I will say this, when I set a SMART goal and follow it closely, I see much better results than I do otherwise. So I challenge you to begin thinking about your SMART goal. Feel free to leave a comment telling us what your goal is and how you’ve made it SMART.