How to Set SMART Goals
How to Set Powerful Goals
Sometimes the difference between surviving and thriving comes down to the ability to set and achieve goals. We hear so much about the importance of goals but so little about how to set rewarding yet realistic ones. Research shows that by setting clearly defined goals, you are more likely to achieve them. Even if said goals are not met, you will be happier simply by striving for them (Will Meek, Ph.D.).
In addition to being more successful and fulfilled in life, there are many benefits to be had from goal setting. People who are goal-oriented often:
- Have more confidence
- Maintain focus and direction with ease
- Live with a sense of purpose
- Are more energetic
- Are more charismatic
- Live longer and happier
Deciding what your goals are:
The goals you set will represent your values. To categorize those values, many coaches use the components of happiness borrowed from The Wheel of Life. They are:
- Health and wellness
- Family and friends
- Personal and spiritual growth
- Community involvement
- Career and business
- Financial stability & growth
Everyone has some areas of life they are content with while others they wish to improve. When setting goals for yourself, think about every area of your life and rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how content you are with it. If you are not content in a certain area, think about what would you like to accomplish to make it better. Maybe your career is soaring, but you want to lose weight, or you’ve met the love of your life but need to reel in your spending habits so that you can buy a house together. When you start to zero in on what you’d like to achieve, we recommend setting some SMART goals.
Coined in 1954 by Austrian born business consultant, Peter F. Druker, SMART goals are an acronym for:
“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old”
~ Peter F. Druker
How to set SMART goals
- Be specific: It’s easy to fall into the trap of being too general in goal setting. Be as clear and detailed as possible. Think about who, what, when, where, why, and how when setting your goals. The more clarity you have, the better you set yourself up for success.
|I want to lose weight||I want to lose 15 pounds and wear a size smaller jeans.|
|I want to save money||I want to save $2,500 for a down payment on a car|
|I want to change careers||I want to be a high-school math teacher in Florida|
- Make your goals measurable. Notice in the don’t column that none of the goals have a tangible or measurable end. There isn’t a clear way to know if you are successful or not. However, in the do column, you will know that you are successful when that specific thing has been achieved. When you are creating a strategy to meet your goals, that should also be specific and measurable.
|I’ll exercise 4 times a week||I’ll do 30 minutes of cardio and 15 minutes strength training on Mon., Tues., Thurs., and Fri. mornings.|
|I’ll eat out less||Instead of eating out, once a week, I’ll put $50 in an envelope.|
|I’ll look into retraining programs this summer||I’ll research 3 programs and complete 2 applications by the end of July.|
- Both your goals and your strategy must be achievable. Achievable goals and strategies should nudge you out of your comfort zone but not shove you into something unsustainable. Know your limitations and work within them. Be realistic about what you are willing to give up meeting a goal. Think about what stumbling blocks you have encountered in the past and come up with a strategy to work around them. Sometimes we have lofty ideas of what we can and will do to reach a goal and that completely sets us up for failure.
|I’ll lose 15 pounds in 2 weeks||I’ll lose 1-2 pounds each week for 2-3 months.|
|I won’t buy any clothes for a year.||I’ll make a clothes budget and buy items I need when they are on sale.|
|I’ll keep my current schedule and give up 2 hours of sleep to study.||I’ll delegate some of my responsibilities to others and set aside 2 hours every night for studying.|
- Make sure your goal is relevant to what you truly desire in life. This can be tricky because sometimes we can set goals based on what other people want or what we believe we should accomplish based on someone else’s values. Accomplishing your goal will only make you happy and be satisfying if it is what you truly want. A good way to know how relevant your goal is to ask yourself “why” do you want it? If you don’t want it, your motivation will be weak and you’ll be no happier when you cross the finish line.
|Try and lose weight to win someone else’s approval.||Consider your health, energy, overall self-esteem and self-confidence connected to being fit.|
|Buy a car to impress your friends or neighbors.||Look at your budget, consider what type of transportation you need, what payments you can afford, and what level of happiness you will get from the type of vehicle you choose.|
|Become a teacher because everyone in your family was a teacher but you want to start a business.||Think about the things you will love about teaching, and the things you won’t love. Consider your own strengths and challenges and evaluate if you will be truly satisfied.|
- Give yourself a realistic deadline. Have you ever noticed someone who works well under pressure? It’s usually because there’s urgency that must be met. People lose weight when there’s an event coming up, the house gets cleaned when company is coming, and a term-paper gets written days before its due. I’m not saying you should wait until the last minute for anything, but the fact is that a timebound goal is more likely to get met than one that is too open-ended.
|I want to lose weight this year.||I want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months.|
|I want to save money||In 1 year, I will save $2,500|
|I want to change jobs someday.||I will start a 9-month teaching program in 2019 and be a licensed teacher in 2020.|
SMART goals are without a doubt, the #1 goal setting template used by business managers across the globe. Clearly defined, measurable and achievable goals are the blueprint for success. Having someone hold you accountable for sticking to the process minimizes distractions and mistakes while maximizing motivation and commitment. A life coach will hold you accountable, be your cheerleader and motivator, and give you unbiased objective feedback to get you over the finish line faster than you can on your own.