No matter where you are in life, setting goals is a crucial part of any form of improvement or change, be it at home, work or school. If you ever feel like sometimes you just aren’t achieving as much as you believe you are capable of, this strategy can help you. Setting SMART goals will enable you to stay on track, keeping the goal in mind and maintaining progress.
What does SMART mean?
- Time bound
This acronym, first coined in the 1980s by George T. Duran, is used to break down goals and objectives to make them easier to accomplish. These criteria have mostly come from Peter Drucker’s ‘Management by Objectives’ concept and has been further developed by Robert S. Rubin and other authors who have expanded the acronym to SMARTER, adding Evaluated and Reviewed.
How to use SMART goals to optimise your potential
It is important for your goal to be precise and targeted as otherwise it may feel overwhelming to begin working towards it, leading to lack of motivation and ultimately no success. Your goal should be able to address these five ‘W’ questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
Your goal should be measurable and have quantifiable objectives that can easily be worked towards. This is vital so that your improvement and progress is trackable, making it more motivating than trying to work towards something abstract.
A measurable goal should be able to answer questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
In order for your goal to be achievable, it’s essential that your target is realistic. No matter how ambitious you may be, setting unrealistic goals will be disheartening. You should be able to find a balance between pushing yourself and testing the best of your abilities whilst also keeping it attainable.
Ask yourself these questions as you set your achievable goal:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, whilst factoring potential hurdles, for example finances?
There’s no point setting any targets unless they mean something to you! This stage is to make sure that your goal matters to you and will benefit your life. Additionally, by creating worthwhile goals, people will be more likely to help and assist you along the way, and this peer support can be crucial in remaining on target.
A relevant goal should answer “yes” to these example questions:
- Will this be worthwhile?
- Is this the right time for me?
- Does this align with my other needs?
- Am I a suitable person to reach this goal?
Setting yourself a deadline can be very helpful as it can give you something to work towards and add extra motivation. Every goal should have a specific target date, and your everyday tasks should not overshadow your long-term aspirations.
A time-bound target should be able to answer:
- When will I achieve this?
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do today?
Why use SMART?
SMART goals are able to give the clarity and focus, which in turn create motivation, needed to achieve your real goals. It can turn your ideas into actionable objectives by defining the specifics of your goals and what exactly needs to be completed to achieve them. Additionally, a completion deadline can be highly encouraging if you enjoy a challenge and pushing yourself, and at the end you’ll be able to see in literal terms how much progress you have made. The best part? SMART goals can be used by anyone for anything without any type of formal training due to its clearly defined steps. Goals can be changed based on the individual and their abilities, and ever-adapting plans can still easily follow the SMART guidelines.
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