Setting goals is hard - you want them to be challenging but not impossible, and you don't want to set yourself up for disappointment. So, how can you make sure your goals are achievable? Use the SMART goals framework and sprinkle in some motivation for yourself along the way to ensure success. Here’s how!
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are an effective tool for personal growth and development that help you clearly define, understand, and achieve what you’d like to accomplish. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each aspect of the SMART acronym is essential for you to attain your goal because it outlines the exact qualities that make up a successful goal: being specific lets you hone in on exactly what you want to achieve; how you can measure it assures that your progress is quantifiable and your success rate is high; making sure the goal is achievable keeps it realistic while also allowing room to strive higher; ensuring that the goal is relevant helps keep motivation top-of-mind - nothing will be wasted effort here - and finally; setting boundaries around time keeps everything focused so you don't lose track of your end target, especially if you are working wards a long-term goal. By utilizing this approach when you set goals for yourself, success becomes easier than ever to attain!
How to set a SMART goal for yourself - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound
Mapping out your goals and how best to achieve them can be daunting, but it’s a process that’s well worth the effort. Now that you know SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based, let’s dive into what this means and how you can apply the framework to help you create a roadmap of where you want to go.
Specific. A specific goal should be clear and straightforward with no room for assumption or interpretation. To create a specific goal, ask yourself
What do I want to accomplish?
Who is involved?
What resources are limitations are involved (what are the boundaries of this goal)?
Measurable. A measurable goal is one whose progress may be made visible, clear, and easy to track.
What are my key performance indicators?
Achievable. This aspect keeps your targets realistic while maintaining an element of worthiness and challenge.
How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal based on other factors or constraints (e.g. time, financial resources, bandwidth, personal expertise)?
Relevance means you have taken into account external influences that may have an impact on the reachability of said goal.
Does this seem worth the effort?
Why is this goal important to me and my growth?
Does this goal align with my life and other efforts and needs?
Do I want this or do others want this for me?
Time-bound. Creating a deadline for yourself ensures that there is an end date attached to your goal, thereby creating a sense of urgency. After all, if we think we have forever, we might just wait forever.
When do I want to accomplish this goal by?
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?
How to stay motivated when you're working towards a goal
Setting goals and working towards achieving them can be difficult. It's normal to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated, especially when the path ahead looks long. However, there are a few things you can do to stay motivated:
Remind yourself why reaching your goal is important - try writing down the reasons you want to achieve it, as well as any successes or small victories throughout your journey.
Break up your goal into small chunks that are easier to tackle one by one rather than looking at the overall picture. It'll help make the task less daunting and give you momentum.
Celebrate every success no matter how small and don't be too hard on yourself if progress is slower than expected - nobody said it would be easy!
With the right combination of positive thinking, dedication, and breaks along the way you'll soon find yourself closer to meeting your goal!
What to do when you reach a roadblock
Good things don’t come easily, and it’s likely that you’ll reach a roadblock on your pathway to success. If that’s the case, don’t get discouraged; instead, recognize the hardship as a necessary part of your journey and an opportunity to learn.
Taking a step back, reevaluating your plan, and adjusting it according to what you've learned is a great way to push past these obstacles. At the same time, don’t forget that taking breaks from stressful situations can also sharpen your focus and give you fresh ideas for getting past the roadblock. As long as you keep trying and stay motivated, you'll make progress no matter how many walls come up.
Getting Started: Example of a SMART Goal
Alright, I’ve done a lot of talking, so let’s put this to work with an example:
An example of an achievable SMART goal for myself might be to improve my Spanish before the end of this year by taking an online course two days a week and studying for 30 minutes each evening. This goal is important to me because I am moving abroad to a Spanish-speaking country where knowing the language will be essential.
Note: The components of SMART are out of order, but they are all there. If you’re able to combine your goal into 1-2 clear sentences, you can easily write it on your wall or post it somewhere for motivation.
Now that you know what SMART goals are and how to set them, it's time to put this knowledge into action! Pick one area of your life where you'd like to set a goal and use the tips in this blog post to help you achieve it. Remember - celebrate your accomplishments along the way, and before you know it, you'll be reaching your goals left and right! Ready to start? Download our SMART goals template to kickstart your success.