Once you start talking about goals it won’t be long before the subject of SMART goals comes up. That’s because it’s possibly the most popular and well-known of all goal setting tools and techniques. But is a SMART goal enough or do you need to add more to your goal setting process?

This article will look at:

  1. What is a SMART goal?
  2. Why the acronym SMART is important when applied to goal setting
  3. How you can set a SMART goal
  4. What else is needed when setting goals

What is a SMART goal?

The word SMART is an acronym which provides a goal setting framework to ensure that your goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant and

Time bound.

SMART goal setting brings structure and track ability into your goals and objectives. Instead of a vague resolution or wish, a SMART goal will create something tangible.  Something you can track and something you can honestly say whether you’ve reached it or not.

Specific:

You have a much greater chance of accomplishing a specific goal than a general goal.  Getting specific is the process of turning your thoughts, your wish, your dream into something more precise.

Is your goal to be healthier – what does that mean?  How will you know once you’ve reached that goal if you aren’t being specific?

If you are struggling to get specific with your goal, ask yourself the five w questions – who, what, when, where why.  If you can answer these questions in relation to your goal you are well on the way to developing a SMART goal.

Do you want to lose weight?  A goal of ‘I want to lose weight’ may not be enough to motivate you. You need to get specific, so you know exactly how much weight, by when and how?.  “I want to lose 5kg by 30 June 2019 and will do this by going to the gym 3 mornings a week.  This is a much better goal than ‘I want to lose weight.

Measurable:

Having a measurable goal makes it easy to track your progress and know when you’ve reached your goal.

Where possible, put concrete numbers in your goals. This way you’ll know if you’re falling behind or if you’re on track.

Some questions you can ask to ensure your goal is measurable:

  • How much? For example, “how much weight do I hope to lose?”
  • How many? For example, “how many times a week do I want to go to the gym?”

Having a measurable goal means you can track and measure your progress along the way.  Do you want to lose 10kg in six months time? How much weight is that each month, each week? How many exercise sessions will you do a week to reach this?

Once you know these numbers, track them to tell you if you are on track.  Use a calendar, a whiteboard, a dairy – what-ever works for you.

Achievable:

Ensuring your goal is achievable is crucial. You want to make sure that the goal you have set can be achieved, otherwise, you may become discouraged. Having goals that are a stretch is important. That’s how you grow. But if that stretch is too far then you can lose motivation quickly.

Be realistic about the amount of time you have available to spend on your goal, given your other commitments. You may not need to give up your goal if it isn’t achievable, you may just need to adjust it or set a longer timeframe to achieve it.

Relevant

This one is a check in.  Is your goal relevant to you? Can you control the outcome? If not, if it relies on someone else or is out of your control change it.  If you can’t determine the outcome, if it isn’t your work that means the goal has been met than it’s not relevant to you.  Don’t choose a goal that relies on someone else as you have little or no control over what someone else chooses to do.  Never set a goal along the lines of ‘I want them to treat me better’ or ‘I want them to like me more’. You can’t control what another person does, how they act or how they feel. Set yourself up for success and choose a goal that is in your control and relevant to you.

Time bound:

Your goal needs s deadline or a date of completion.

When you don’t set a deadline, there is no internal pressure to accomplish the goal.  Other priorities take precedence and your goal can end up on the back burner.

if your goal is very long-term, it can be useful to break it up into smaller goals. This can help you measure your progress and make it manageable.

For example, as discussed above, if your goal is to lose 10kg in six months time, break this down into how much weight that is each month and each week.  These become

  1. What else is needed when setting goals

SMART goals may be more beneficial than non-SMART goals, but setting a SMART goal is still only half the battle.  Now you have to achieve it. This can be the aspect of goal setting that people have the most trouble with.

A few other things to consider when setting goals:

  1. Your Why
  2. Obstacles and Challenges
  3. Your actions
  4. Your mindset
1. Your Why

Reflect on why you are setting this goal.   Make note of the benefits of accomplishing this goal and why it is important to you. Understanding your “why”, particularly if it is powerful enough, can be enough to motivate you when you feel like giving up.

For example, if we look at loosing weight, why do you want to lose weight.  Is it to be healthier? Why do you want to be healthier? Is it because you want to be able to run and play with your kids.  Is it because you want to live a longer life so you can see your kids have kids?  These are powerful reasons and if you focus on your why, it gives you a reason and a purpose so you continue to take the actions, even though they may seem hard.

To get to your why and make it powerful, ask yourself ‘why do I want to achieve this?’ When you get the answer, ask again, ‘why do I want this?’, ‘why is this important?’.  Keep doing this until you get to something so powerful that you are completely committed to it.  Reflect on this reason each and every day.

2. Obstacles and Challenges

Take a moment while setting your goal to identify what obstacles and challenges you may come up against.

  • Is your goal to lose weight but you have an aversion to exercise. Recognise this, and consider how and why do you want to overcome that?
  • What are some other obstacles? Maybe you don’t have enough money for a gym membership, or you have an injury that will prevent you from exercising.  Now you’ve considered the obstacles or challenges, think about how you can work around them and still meet your goal.
3. Your actions

Don’t kid yourself.  Setting goals is just the first step in the process. Once your goal is set, you need to take action. Nothing comes to those that sit around waiting.

4. Your Mindset

What is your thinking around your goal? Are you truly committed to it? If not, why not? Is your own self-doubt getting in the way? If so, read how to doubt your self-doubt here.

Listen to what you are telling yourself with regards to your goal and be honest.  Write down any negative thoughts and work through them.  Don’t let thoughts be the reason you don’t get what you want.

Now you have one of the most popular and common goal setting frameworks.  If you already have goals, check them to ensure they are SMART and if you don’t, what are you waiting for? What one goal you want that you can set as a SMART goal and start working towards it today.

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