As human beings, it is in our nature to desire more and better things. Achieving better things meaning working towards progress.
If you want to progress in your life, then you must set smart goals for yourself.
Setting goals is very important for achieving success as having a goal and breaking it down into multiple smaller goals, or micro targets would serve as a measure of whether you’re on the right track or not.
An excellent strategy to implement has many smaller goals that lead to one bigger final goal.
However, as you may expect, there are goals, and then there are smart goals. Let me explain to you what S.M.A.R.T goals are and how you can use them to your advantage.
corporatefinanceinstitute.com Defines smart goals as SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.
A smart goal is specific.
When setting your goal, make sure to be very clear about it. You should choose a goal that does not allow much room for various interpretations. Here is an example of a bad unspecific goal and another of a good specific goal:
Bad and unspecific: I’m going to be successful.
Good and specific: I’m going to be successful in setting up my online life insurance business. (Note that this goal is only good in terms of specificity, yet it lacks all the other elements and therefore not a great goal to set.)
Notice the difference in detail between the two examples. The bad example is bad because it is too broad, and if you try to communicate it to someone, they will have to ask for more information. Being successful could mean a lot of things. Is it successful financially? Is it successful in terms of education or sports?
While on the other hand, a good example pretty much explains your exact goal and desire. Having a specific goal will help you draw the roadmap that would lead you towards achieving it. Now you have an idea of what books to read or what research to conduct.
Now you might be wondering as to what goal you really want, or how do you even decide one? Well, here is a little help in the form of a small article by Fast Company.
A smart goal is measurable.
The second element of a smart goal is the M, which stands for Measurable. A professional, smart goal is one that could be measured.
Now, many people tend to confuse measurable with timed (which is the last element in S.M.A.R.T goal). However, there is a big difference between the two elements. Timed refers to well, time. While Measurable refers to whether you’re on the right track to achieving your goal. Here is an example of immeasurable and measurable goals:
Bad and immeasurable: I’m going to be successful in setting up my online life insurance business.
Good and measurable: I’m going to be successful in setting up my online life insurance business. I will measure this goal by tracking my progress based on tasks completed, life insurance sold, and revenue generated. (Again, this goal is both specific and measurable yet not quite fully smart.)
You can measure if you are on the right track by looking at the number of life insurance sold and revenue generated. Now you have a base to compare your goal and your actual realized progress.
A smart goal is Achievable.
The third element has to do with choosing a goal that could be reasonably achieved. No, it does not mean that you shouldn’t dream big; all you have to do is to break your goal – no matter how big it is- into smaller achievable goals that, once combined, would lead to the bigger eventual or final goal.
This is one factor that I tell people to be careful about, as many people misunderstand this element and believe that they should not strive for big goals. No goal is too big if broken down into multiple smaller ones and sought after strategically.
Bad and unachievable goal: I’m going to quite my 9-5 job to set up my life insurance business by next week and will generate $3,000,000 by the end of the second week.
Good and achievable goal: I’m going to work towards setting up my life insurance business after my 9-5 every day. I’m going to set up the website by the end of next month as the first step towards making it happen.
Choosing a too big goal without breaking it down to be sensible could lead you to lose your motivation, momentum, and giving up your goal prematurely. Avoid that by choosing smaller goals that could be achieved and lead you closer to the eventual goal. Another tip I could share with you is to read about how other successful people have achieved similar goals. I believe you get an idea of what is achievable based on the experience of others who tried and managed to do what you want to do. Then again, do not let that be your celling.
A smart goal is relevant.
Now the element of relevancy is pretty straightforward. All it means is that whatever small goals you will be setting have to be related to the final goal you desire. Your road map of goals to follow should be directing you towards achieving the bigger picture. Ask yourself, is what I am doing right now helpful in bringing me closer to what I really want? For example:
Bad and irrelevant: My goal is to lose 30 pounds within 4 months. My micro-target is to read a book every week.
Good and relevant: My goal is to lose 30 pounds within 4 months. My micro-target is to run a mile every morning and eat healthy and nutritious meals.
As we can see above, both goals are similar. Yet, the bad example contains reading a book, which, by itself, a good habit to form, however, does not relate to the main goal (In most cases.)
It is crucial to track your goals and understand and where each one of them leads do, this way, you are surely going to make progress every day.
A smart goal is bound by time.
The last element in S.M.A.R.T goals is the T, standing for time. Now it is vital to have a goal that is bound by time. Going back to our example of a person who has a goal of losing 30 pounds in 4 months, the 4 months here serves as the last element. Had the person said, “My goal is to lose 30 pounds,” that would not have been a smart goal as it could not be timed. Another example of the bad and the good:
Bad (Not time-bound): I’m going to learn the Spanish language.
Good (Time-bound): I’m going to learn the Spanish language within the next 12 months.
A good practice would be breaking that goal into a bunch of smaller goals like Starting tomorrow, I will join a Spanish language course. By next month I would have learned the essential words, phrases, and numbers. Within 3 months, I will be starting to write full sentences in Spanish.
Notice that the person has broken down the goals and set deadlines for achieving them. Any goal that is not bound time and a deadline usually gets procrastinated until it is eventually forgotten completely. Track your goals and be sure to track time.
The 5 simple elements explained above are good to have in mind when setting your goal(s). It is undoubtedly a positive practice that will help you stay focused and motivated while knowing exactly why you’re doing what you do and what steps are coming next.
Specific: What is this goal exactly about, and why is it important?
Measurable: What, how much or how many should be accomplished
Achievable: What do I need to do to achieve this goal? Is it realistic?
Relevant: Does doing this help me achieve my eventual goal?
Timed: What needs to be done by today? By next week? By next month?
Answering the above questions in full would help create a reasonable goal that is easier to achieve. Stop the wishful thinking.
As for your next step, I urge you to apply what was written above and stick with it until you find your desired result. This is a sure way of getting closer to your goals!