How To Set SMART Goals
I’m a personal believer that we should all have goals of varying degrees.
We should have goals we can accomplish each day.
We should have goals we can accomplish every week.
We should have some goals that are so big they scare us (because those are the really fun ones!).
But coming up with those goals, and goals you can actually follow through with, can be paralyzing. I mean, when’s the last time you really sat down and set some goals? Just the thought of starting to set some goals can trigger some serious anxiety.
Fret not, my friends.
We can use this simple acronym to help you get there.
It’s called S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-Bound
This method has been proven time and time again to be one of the best ways to help people set and achieve their goals. Is it the only way? Of course not. But, that it is an extremely accessible way to overcome your goal setting anxiety, and get you on the path to growth.
Instead of going through a myriad of potential goals that you could use, I’m going to use my own personal goal of 2 emails a week utilizing this method. Let’s start from the top!
S – SPECIFIC
Many of our goal setting frustrations come from ambiguity. We set amoeba-like goals that sort of just float around in our minds rather than setting a target 15 yards away and drawing back our bows.
“Well, it would be nice if I could lose 20 pounds this year.” Amoeba.
“I’m going to lose 20 pounds in 2019.” Specific.
Don’t have amoeba goals. Have specific, targeted goals.
I mean, how much better does it feel to say, “I’m going to….” rather than, “It would be nice…” that alone should show you the direction you need to go!
My goal this year is 2 emails a week centered around certain topics. Pretty dang specific. If I don’t get these emails out, I haven’t fulfilled my goal. If that were the case, I would need to go back to the drawing board and audit my day to see what is keeping me from writing 2 emails a day (*cough cough Instagram cough Facebook cough cough*).
Having specific and clear goals is, in my opinion, the most important part of this process. Get rid of the ambiguity, and get some clarity in your direction.
M – Measurable
Being able to properly measure your goal with concrete data is paramount when we’re looking at goal setting. We need to be able to take a step back, and objectively see if we obtained our goal, or at least moved ourselves closer to that goal (fun fact: this is also why we measure and record our workouts!).
Here’s an example of a non-measurable goal: “I’m hoping to be more mindful this year.”
Instead of just hoping that you’re going to be hit with an abundance of mental clarity with the new year, what’s a measurable way that you could reach a higher state of mindfulness?
“I’m going to do 5 minutes of meditation every morning when I wake up.”
Bingo. Now you are setting something you can objectively do each day and accurately measure! NICE! (By the way, if you’re looking for a guided meditation app, I highly recommend “HeadSpace.”)
My goal of 2 emails a week is measurable. Is yours measurable?
A – Attainable
The biggest problem with the “new year new goals” hype is people setting unrealistic goals for themselves.
“I’m going to go to CrossFit 7 days a week!”
“I’m going to lose 15 pounds a week!”
“I’m going to run 10 miles every day, even though I haven’t run all 2018!”
Not very attainable, but those goals are for an entirely different blog topic.
Instead of “shooting for the moon so you can land amongst the stars,” let’s shoot for something that is attainable. Maybe we just shoot to get to 10,000 feet before we worry about trying to cover the 1,261,154,400 it takes to get to the moon (that’s the real distance in feet… or 238,855 miles).
2 emails a week. That’s my goal. Scary? Well, yeah. Attainable? Definitely.
Set your sights on attainable goals that will push you and challenge you, but goals that won’t leave you unbelievably frustrated, burnt out, and ready to quit altogether if you don’t achieve them.
R – Relevant
Relevancy plays a big roll in goal setting. We need to set realistic goals that are in line with what we’re trying to accomplish, or in line with what we truly value.
If you’re looking to improve in an area of your fitness, set a goal IN that area of fitness.
If you’re looking to improve in your professional life, set a goal IN that are of professional life.
Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have other goals in different fields/areas, but your goals should still be something relevant to your life, and something that you truly value.
I sort of spoiled it above, but one of my goals is to be more mindful this year. I mean… to practice 10 minutes of meditation a day (because, measurable goals, right?). While this meditation practice might not be specific to my training goals or my work goals, it IS something that I value greatly. Whenever I practice my daily morning meditation, my entire day is objectively better. I’m more patient. I’m more kind. More tasks get accomplished, and I’m more thoughtful of others. It’s extremely valuable to me.
My 2 emails a week goal is extremely relevant. It falls under the bucket of my professional goals (and it’s also a ton of fun for me).
Make sure your goals are relevant to what you truly value in your life.
This brings us to the last bit of the acronym… something that many, MANY of us fail to do whenever we are setting our goals.
T – Time-bound
Ah, yes. Time-bound goals. One of the most difficult things to do is set a timeline, deadline, or end date to our goals. Now, some goals don’t need a timeline or deadline, but I would argue that those aren’t really goals. Those are habits that you’re trying to build (like my 10 minutes of meditation each day).
But when we’re looking at accomplishing a specific goal or task, it’s best practice to make these time-bound.
When we’re coming up with a timeline or a deadline, we still need to utilize some other aspects of the SMART system as well… really the “S” and the “A” aspect.
Specific and attainable timelines are what we’re after.
We could make some goals with a specific timeline but not an attainable one. “I want to run 50 miles by next Thursday (7 days from now).”
We could make some goals with an attainable timeline but not very specific. “I’m going to run 50 miles… sometime.”
Aim for specific and attainable. “I’m going to run 50 miles by April 3rd (12 weeks), which means I need to run 4.17 miles a week to get there. I can do this.”
Not only are you setting a time-bound goal (50 miles in 12 weeks) but you’re also helping cultivating a very positive habit of running 4 miles a week! BOOM!
Time-bound goals are important because they push us to be active in our pursuit of the goals. If these are specific and attainable, they can be a huge help in cultivating new habits that will set us up for life.
As you’re making your goals for this year, let’s be S.M.A.R.T. about them. Set specific and measurable goals that are attainable and relevant with a realistic timeline to help you be active in your pursuit.
Goal setting can be extremely fun and empowering. It can also be super terrifying. I mean, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I regretted this when I opened up this blank word document knowing that I had to get an email/blog out to you. But here we are, taking one step closer to fulfilling that SMART goal. Especially thanks to the “T” aspect of it all.
PS – I’d love to help you out if you need the help in setting these. Shoot me an email or message if you need some help!