Every year we see people set new goals for the year and, inevitably, we see many of them fail. Why? What makes only a percentage of these people successful in their venture? Keep reading and you'll find one strategy to help you become part of that successful percentage.
"Smart goals? Are you trying to say my goals are dumb?"
No, not in the least! There is no such thing as a dumb goal if it's something you want to achieve. SMART is simply an acronym to remember to help you to break down your goals into manageable, bite sized pieces. You wouldn't take your birthday cake and try to devour it in one bite would you, so why try to do the same with your goals? So let's continue on and find out just how you can implement this strategy.
S - Specific
The first letter stands for Specific. Your goals should spell out exactly what you want, not be just a generic wish. Make your goal a target, something to shoot for. You wouldn't head out to target practice and just shoot for anything, you have a target to sight-in on. Here's an example: Say you want to lose weight so your wish goal would be "I want to lose weight." That's nice, but how much weight do you want to lose? "I want to lose 40 pounds." Okay, you can do that over the course of several years. "I want to lose 40 pounds by my birthday this year." Great, let's do it! See what we did there? We turned your wish into a specific goal and made it a target to shoot for.
M - Measurable
So now we have your specific goal it's time to give it some means of keeping track of it. This is the meat of breaking down your cake into smaller pieces to eat. Basically we're taking the main goal and breaking into smaller, more manageable goals by making the main focus measurable. So back to our example: Let's take those 40 pounds and divide them by the number of weeks until your birthday. Each week will be a measure of how far you've come and completing each small goal will be a miniature reward which will give you the momentum you need to achieve overall success.
A - Achievable
Alright, now we have a specific and measurable goal in mind but the question is: Is this an achievable goal? Your goal shouldn't be "I want to be able to shoot lightning bolts out of my eyes in 12 weeks. I'll measure it in volts and amps." Let's face it - that's just not feasible, realistic, or even humanly possible (when this was written, who knows what weird things science will come up with.) This should be something you can do with some work and see your success, things like:
- Walk a total of 500 miles by Labor Day
- Lose 40 pounds by my birthday
- Pay off my student loans by my 30th birthday
This ties perfectly into the next part of the acronym:
R - Relevant
This really ties with Achievable because in order for it to be an achievable goal, it should be a relevant one to you. It would be much harder to achieve something you have absolutely no interest in but just set it to see if you could do it. Pick something that you're passionate about or think you could become passionate about that is right now just an interest. Doing that will make your journey to success that much more fun and fulfilling which will help push you forward into it.
T - Time-related
Set a limit on your goal. You already did in a way by making it specific but you may need to break that down just a touch more. Maybe it's by a certain time on a certain day or a certain amount by a certain time. This might just put you under a bit of stress but really it'll help push you and motivate you to get it done. Think of it like a deadline from your boss - you must get it done or there will be consequences. Now you are the one that sets the deadline on yourself and the consequence could be from an outside source. In our example the deadline was the birthday so let's say you had a dinner party at 5:00pm on your birthday. Your time related deadline would be that dinner party at 5:00pm. That would really give you the inspiration and the drive in those last few days to push hard to achieve your goal and show off.
"Man, I never thought he'd shut up..."
Hopefully by now you can see how this strategy will help you to keep on track with your goals and help you to achieve success. One last little tip though, if you don't reach your goal, it's not a failure. You've already come so much farther than most other people would so just think of it as a slight delay in your overall plan for success.