We all have heard how goals are so important in determining success in everything, really and in any field. We need to be having a meaning and a direction to achieving something. As Napoleon Hill says is his so famous book “Think and Grow Rich“—
“The starting point of all achievement is desire.“
Our goal, the desire, purpose and meaning to pursue and achieve that goal is of extreme significance and obviously the first obligatory step in order to achieve literally anything. Because:
“Without a goal, you can’t score.”
If goals are so important in the hustle of so-called success that we’re all so well part of and wish to achieve, there must be a smart way (no pun intended) to create goals. Because when you think about it really, winners and losers of a race, both, have the same goal. Which is to win. Isn’t that so counter-intuitive to the idea that goals are responsible for success? Yes, it is.
But through this article my goal, again- is to put forth a better and smarter way to create goals and to implement them using the mnemonic SMART acronym consisting of 5 different, but inter-connected, adjectives and/or objectives for building up a smart goal.
S: The S in SMART refers to Specific. Your goals—in whichever branch of life they may be in accordance with—should be specific. After hearing the goal, even a child should know what you have to do to execute and achieve the goal. For example, don’t create a goal which states, “I want to lose weight”. That’s very indefinite. Then some people may say, “I want to exercise more and eat more of healthy food.” That’s rather unspecific too. Instead of keeping them as your goals try saying, “I want to exercise 3 times a week and eat 3 different fruits and vegetables everyday.” That’s way more specific and now, just from reading the goal, you’ll remember and feel like doing what you have to do.
M: Next, the M in SMART stands for Measurable. Your goals need to be measurable to be evaluated and reviewed accordingly. Measuring of your goals helps to record how far you’ve come and how much you still have to go. Besides, if your goal isn’t measurable, you’ll never even be able to achieve it in the first place. But having some small amount of checkpoints in between can really help to push you harder or assure you that you’re on the right track. Being able to measure your goals can be a good motivator but at the same time it can be a real downer. If you are just a little behind on your goal, you’ll be motivated to push harder and try to come back on track. But if you look at the scale after 30 days of good training as well as following your exercise and diet plans, but still find yourself no where near your goal, that can be really demolishing. And that brings us to:
A: The A in SMART which is Achievable. Your goals should be achievable and realistic. Even though I hate to say things like this and strongly believe that we can do anything we put our minds to, there is still a distinction between realistic and unrealistic. Sure, you can make the gap of realistic and unrealistic larger by putting more things in the realistic basket but in the end there are just some things that are physically, statistically and sometimes theoretically speaking very hard to do or unreasonable. Hence, be certain that your goals fall in the Goldilocks zone of difficulty. Not too easy because then it won’t even be a goal since you’ll easily be able to do it but not too hard or unrealistic as well since that’ll just lead you to abandoning the goal, sooner or later. But you want it to be challenging. In the Goldilocks zone. Keep the goal a little hard so that the challenge makes you feel motivated but not too hard that it seems impossible for you to achieve after a while.
R: Then the R in SMART stands for Relevant. And for our goal setting purpose, it stands for being relevant to you. Many people have goals that really if they stop for a second and ponder on, will discover that they, surprisingly or not, don’t want to be achieving their so-called goals. There are many people like them. I was one of them too, just for a little while. They tend to have these goals set in their mind and as the only North Star guiding them mostly due to other people’s expectations of them. But that really won’t do you any good, nor will it do good to the person who’s expecting you to do the job because you won’t give your hundred percent in it since you don’t actually want it and it’s irrelevant to you and it’s just something you don’t want. So try setting goals that fall into the “relevant: to you” category where you pursue a goal because it’s what you want to do.
T: Finally, the T in our mnemonic acronym SMART stands for, Timed or Time-bound. Of course you need a time frame or a period of time to complete the goal. You can’t go on pursuing the goal forever, can you? Besides, time frames and deadlines make us more productive and make us work toward the goal in a motivating way. Time is really important to consider. Making yourself strict deadlines will not only make you work harder and faster towards the goal but also will make you be able to measure your progress.
Like I said in the beginning all of these objectives are very well inter-linked to each other. If your goals are Specific then, inevitably they’re easily Measurable. Your Achievable goals should also have Achievable Time frames. Making your goals more Relevant to you will make you assign more Time for it during the day (or night) and that too with passion attracting you to do your work (whatever it may be) for your goal.
That’s it. Go out there now and create some Specific, measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound goals.
Credits: The idea of the SMART acronym is very popular and was first used in November 1981. You can read about the history of it here.
I got this idea from listening to an audiobook/podcast of Dr. Tim Sharp aka Dr Happy —”Habits for Happiness: 10 Daily Steps for Living Your Happiest Life” an Audible Original. You can listen to it here