5 Practical Tips for How to Set SMART Goals
We talked before about why goal setting is important for achieving success. You now understand the importance of setting goals for yourself. You may now be asking, “what the best way is to set goals?” You’re in luck, I have the answer for you.
The best way to set goals is to use the S.M.A.R.T acronym. The SMART acronym stands for setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
How to Set SMART Goals- #1. SPECIFIC
Specific goals should be well defined and easy for even an outside person to know what you are talking about. When you have a goal that’s specific, it forces you to focus and better utilize your efforts. In other words, you never have to second guess or wonder what you’re aiming for.
SMART Goals Example (lousy goal setting example):
Jane has set a goal to move up and become a leader after graduating school.
In the example, it’s not completely clear what Jane is aiming for.
SMART Goals Example (better goal setting example):
Jane wants to acquire experience, so she can become a chief nursing officer at Generic Hospital.
In this example, it’s clear what Jane’s goals are. Because Jane made a specific goal, she knows precisely what she is aiming for. That’s how to set a smart goal.
How to Set SMART Goals- #2. MEASURABLE
Here’s a question. If you set goals, how do you know when you have accomplished those goals? If the answer is “I don’t know” then you are probably making goals that are not measurable. Goals that aren’t measurable make it difficult to keep track of your progress. Even worse, it may be challenging to know when you have accomplished your goal. Not being able to keep track of your goals will lead to quick loss of motivation.
To help make your goal measurable, try to quantify it.
SMART Goals Example (bad example)
John has set a goal for himself to be able to run by the end of summer.
In the above example, how do we know when John has accomplished his goal? Is it after he runs 10ft? Is John trying to run a mile or two miles? What if he is trying to run a marathon by the end of the summer. In the above example, the goal doesn’t give us a way to measure progress. At the end, we won’t know when John accomplishes his goal.
The result is John will probably lose motivation and quit. What if John said this instead:
SMART goals example (an excellent example of goal setting)
John has set a goal for himself. He wants to run 1-mile in 15 minutes by the end of the summer.
That’s how you set a smart goal that is measurable.
How to Set SMART Goals- #3. ATTAINABLE
You always want to set realistic goals. If there is no possible way it can happen, then it doesn’t make sense to set the goal.
SMART goals example (bad example of goal setting):
Jim wants to lose 20 pounds in a week.
Realistically are you going to lose 20 pounds in a week? It’s highly unlikely. Therefore that goal is unrealistic.
A better goal would be:
SMART goals example (a good example of goal setting):
Jim wants to lose one pound in a week.
That’s how you set a smart goal that is realistic.
How to Set SMART Goals- #4. RELEVANT
Your goal also needs to be relevant to what your actual efforts are. If you set a goal and you are neither able or willing to work for it, you are not going to attain it. Another way of saying this is your goal must be relevant to your overall vision.
SMART goals example (a lousy example of goal setting)
Johnny just graduated from school and landed his first nursing job. Long-term he doesn’t see himself in leadership. He has set a goal to become a manager as soon as possible.
Setting a goal to be a manager is not consistent with a long-term vision that doesn’t include leadership. Instead, you want your goals to be centered around what your long-term vision is.
That’s how you set a SMART goal that is relevant.
How to Set SMART Goals- #5. TIMELY
Putting a time frame on the goal you set is essential. If you don’t put a timeframe on your target, you will eventually become unmotivated.
SMART goals example (bad example):
John made a goal for himself. He wants to save $1000.
In the example above, we don’t know when John needs to have the money saved. Without knowing that piece of information, it’s hard to measure progress. It’s likely John will not be as motivated without a timeframe.
SMART goals example (good example)
John has set a SMART goal. He wants to have $1000 saved in 2 months.
That’s how to set a SMART goal that is timely.
SMART Goals Examples
John’s SMART goal is to learn how to ride a bicycle by the end of the summer.
Samantha has a SMART goal which is to graduate college with her nursing degree in four years.
Jimmy has a goal which is to lose 10 pounds in two months.
Proper goal setting can either be a cornerstone for motivation or a drain on motivation. It does take more work and planning initially. In the long run, setting SMART goals for yourself will pay off.
What goal have you set using the SMART acronym?
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