When it comes to resolutions, they are often much easier said than done. Even the best intentions can take a beating pretty quickly if they don't entail the right kind of planning. As it turns out, setting and achieving goals is a bit of an art form all it's own, but with the right tools anyone can master it, even you! Read on to learn more about getting S.M.A.R.T. with your goals so that you can actually achieve them.
What are S.M.A.R.T. goals?
The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goal making has been around for decades, and the concept is really one of organization and prioritization. Let's face it, every day our best intentions are constantly thwarted by that tricky little thing called life; life always has its own ideas of what it wants you to do, and they do not always align with yours. So the key to making sure you accomplish what YOU want is to be S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the following steps in goal setting:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Relevant
T - Timely
These steps can be applied to any number of actions you want to take, large or small, but following the basics of each step is crucial to success. And it is simpler than you think. Grab your pencil and paper, because you are going to want to write this down.
We're not kidding, write this down. It is easier to work towards goals that are detailed and specific, rather than general and theoretical. We're talking hard, concrete goals, and the best way to get an unformed idea into a solid statement is to write it down. Just the act of writing forces you to articulate exactly what it is that you mean, and in this case you want to be as exact as possible. So, instead of "I want to lose some weight", your goal becomes "I want to lose 22.3 pounds and be able to do 100 push ups in a row." More along those lines. You get the idea.
Now this is important. After clearly and exactly articulating your goal, you must determine how you are able to measure your progress. In the case of losing weight, perhaps your measurement is in pounds or inches. If you want to write a novel, your measurement might be in pages. In both instances, you are taking your big main goal and breaking it down into its smaller parts. This leads to the idea of utilizing microgoals, or setting up benchmarks along the way from where you start to where you want to end. Being able to track your progress is not only important to staying on track, but it is motivating and holds you accountable. "I want to lose 22.3 pounds" may break down into "In order to do that I need to exercise at least 3 days a week". Each workout is a benchmark, a microgoal that moves you closer towards your end result.
Now don't sell yourself short - we want you to reach for the stars! HOWEVER, keep in mind that the pathway you might need to set for yourself might not be a straight line. In addition, depending on where you want to end up, it might also be a very LONG path. There's nothing wrong with long, but remember that motivation is a fickle friend when the road gets weary. So, be honest with yourself when setting your goal as to whether or not it is truly attainable for you with the time, money and effort that will be needed. You may find that you need to break it down into a sequence of smaller goals, and in the end have more success at a faster rate. The thing about setting attainable goals and then accomplishing them is that it feels great! It's addictive, a natural high, and it makes your resolve and motivation stronger. It's okay to start small, because there's always room to get bigger.
There are many things we may want out of life, like a 90 foot yacht or to be 6 inches taller. However, you have to ask yourself when setting your goals if they are truly relevant to you? This is not about staying inside a box - on the contrary, we want you to dream big! If your goal is to do something you have never done before, then you find the ways to get the right training or follow the right people to make it happen. Anything is attainable with expert planning and firm resolve. This section is about digging deep inside and asking yourself why you want to accomplish this goal...REALLY. Again, be honest with yourself, because at the end of the day if it is not truly relevant to you, your life and your dreams, it's going to be so much harder to stay connected and motivated.
The magic juice of making goals - DEADLINES! That's right, we all know it. Everyone, without exception, will work towards something with more intent if there is a finish line in sight. For many of us, it's extremely hard to accomplish something without that deadline. So give yourself that deadline for your goal. Our example goal now becomes "I want to lose 22.3 pounds in 3 months", and the clock starts ticking down. There are fun ways to trick yourself too. Set reminders in your phone for your deadline, or plan certain rewards along the way like "If I workout 3 days a week for one month straight and lose 8 pounds, I get to have a massage." The point is to light a little fire under your bum. Again, be realistic. If you set a deadline to begin and finish writing your novel in one week, there's a pretty good chance you won't succeed, and then you may invite discouragement into the equation, which does no one any good. But then again, if you are realistic, organized and dedicated, you can really accomplish so much more than you might expect.
So here's to getting S.M.A.R.T., and relishing in the joy of sweet, sweet success. Next, we'll take over the world!