How to Set SMART Goals
‘SMART’ is an acronym for 5 characteristics that help you set well-defined goals:
- Realistic Relevant
Say your goal is ‘To lose weight’. Here’s how to make it SMART…
Step 1: Make it Specific
‘To lose weight’ is vague. What exactly do you want your weight loss to look like?
- Specific: I’ll fit into my black skinny jeans
- It helps if: You can picture it clearly
Step 2: Make it Measurable
How precisely will you know when you’ve reached your goal? What’s at the finish line?
- Measurable: My black skinny jeans will zip up all the way
- It helps if: There’s an objective, defined point
Step 3: Make it Achievable
Here you run a reality check. Are you prepared to make the commitment your goal will take? If the skinny jeans are 12 sizes away, are you willing to dramatically alter your life? Is there a more achievable target you are willing to to work for?
- Achievable: My black skinny blue bootleg jeans will zip up all the way
- It helps if: Your goal and your commitment level are well matched
Step 4: Make it Realistic Relevant
Some people use Realistic here, but Achievable covers that territory. Instead, I suggest you make your goal Relevant to your life and other priorities. If it’s a ‘should’ inherited from someone else or out-of-date thinking, ditch or revise it.
For instance, if a weight-loss buddy thinks your goal should be to finish a marathon but you loathe running, competition and the outdoors, choose something else. Make it relevant to you or you’ll run out of steam early on.
- Relevant: My black skinny blue bootleg jeans will zip up all the way – which is relevant to my goals of being healthy and looking my best
- It helps if: You aren’t fighting with yourself to reach your objective
Step 5: Make it Time-Framed
What’s a reasonable date for achieving your goal? Strike a balance between being so ambitious you never expect to succeed and aiming so low you lack incentive to try. You can tweak the date as you make progress.
- Time-Framed: My black skinny blue bootleg jeans will zip up all the way – which is relevant to my goals of being healthy and looking my best – by July 1 2009.
- It helps if: The time frame is close enough to energize you (sometimes you need a series of sub–goals)
Optimize your chance of goal success: Bonus Steps
To really boost your likelihood of reaching that outcome, here are some extra questions to ask yourself during goal-setting activities. These move you from planning and strategizing to action.
1. What resources do you need?
Make a list of all the things, people and information you need to achieve your objective. For instance:
- Ask Sally to be my goal buddy
- Buy comfortable walking shoes
- Buy a rain hoodie
- Get some motivation magazines
2. What needs to be scheduled in your diary?
Most goals need time and activities – make sure you have these allocated in your diary. For instance:
- Schedule 3 x 30-minute walks per week
- Schedule 2 x bike rides per week
- Schedule menu planning
- Schedule menu shopping
3. What milestones are important along the way?
It helps keep up your motivation if you mark your progress along the way with rewards. Start by deciding which milestones to reward. For instance:
- Jeans go over my knees
- Jeans go over my hips
- Jeans zip up with effort
- Jeans zip up comfortably (final)
4. What rewards will you give yourself for reaching those milestones?
Next, choose your rewards. For instance:
- Jeans go over my knees – Get a manicure
- Jeans go over my hips – Get a pedicure
- Jeans zip up with effort – Get a facial
- Jeans zip up comfortably – Get a full-body massage
Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your goal.
Life & Goal Organizer – A SMART Goal System
- This is perhaps my most popular product – loved by people who have too many goals and too little mind space to process them all.
- It’s like a giant, 340-page checklist of things you might like to do, broken down into 12 life areas. There are hundreds of big and little ideas for life goals and projects.
- Because I like things organized, it has an overview of life areas so you can keep a big picture view, while also being able to click through and drill down to more detailed checklists.
- And as it’s interactive, you can keep track of what you’ve achieved – and what you have yet to do.
- Plus it contains SMART Goal Planners for each life area.
- I doubt there’s anything as comprehensive or well-designed for prompting you to move forward on a wide range of life goals. She says modestly.
Free SMART Goal Planner Template
I’ve got a great tool to help you – a Goal Planner Template that guides you through all the steps above. It’s fully interactive too – you can enter your text onscreen, save, print, and re-use. Simply save the PDF or open it with Adobe Reader. Let me know what you think!
Here’s how to use the SMART Goal planner. In this example we set a goal of 25 push-ups in a row.