What are SMART Goals?
What Are SMART Goals?
Have you ever heard of SMART Goals? It’s an acronym that was coined in 1981 by Dr. George Doran as a way to create better goals that could be measured and thus, achieved.
While SMART goals were originally created for the office environment so one could achieve work-related goals, it has become one of the most popular ways to set goals for people from all walks of life.
Whether you are looking to set health goals, life goals, money goals, career goals, personal development goals, or family goals, the S.M.A.R.T. goals formula is a great way to get started.
What Does SMART Goal Stand for?
The S.M.A.R.T. acronym stands for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time related.
The idea behind SMART goals was that by helping people focus their attention in these five areas, their chance of success would greatly improve. The framework set out allows individuals to outline their goals in a consistent format and be able to track progress. Since it is so easy to get off track and distracted in our daily lives, the SMART goal framework helps us stick to our plans.
These five elements aren’t set in stone however. As time as passed, people have substituted some of the original words with different terms that meet their specific needs. We’ll look at these variations next.
What are the 5 Elements of a SMART Goal?
Doran’s original definition of S.M.A.R.T goals laid out five criteria:
This means that a goal needs to be targeted at a specific area for improvement. For instance a goal “for a better life” is not specific enough. This would be a difficult goal to track and measure.
Other words people have substituted for Specific over the years include: strategic, significant, stretch, stimulating, simple, self owned, and sensible.
To qualify as a SMART goal, it should be quantifiable, or measurable. This means that you should be able to track progress along the way. “Losing 5 pounds” is a measurable goal.
Other words people have substituted for Measurable over the years include: meaningful, motivating, manageable, and maintainable.
While this sounds like it only belongs in the corporate business world, it really means that you will specify who will complete the task or goal. If you are setting personal goals, you will be the person in charge of attaining the goal. However, if you are setting a family goal, perhaps another member of the family will actually be in charge of it.
Other words people have substituted for Assignable over the years include: achievable, attainable, action-oriented, appropriate, agreed, ambitious, accepted, and audacious.
For a goal to be realistic means that you will actually be able to achieve it given your available resources. You may want to set a goal to make $1,000,000 dollars in the next year, but this is probably not realistic for most of us.
Other words people have substituted for Realistic over the years include: relevant, rewarding, results-oriented, resourced, recorded, reviewable, and robust.
Goals without an end time generally do not get met. That is why SMART goals include a time-related requirement in order for you to specify when the goal is to be achieved.
For instance, back to the goal of losing 5 pounds. Adding a date to this goal would make it time-related and more likely to be achieved since your daily actions will have the end goal and time period in mind. This makes it easier to skip the donut or extra bite at dinner.
Other words people have substituted for Time-related over the years include: time based, time-bound, time- lined, and trackable.
How Can I Create a SMART Goal?
When creating your SMART goals, you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. This will help you determine what it is you really want to accomplish and why.
Start by asking:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
Another thing I like to do when first setting a goal is to go through a series of asking myself why. While this exercise of 5 Whys is generally used in business problem solving, it can also help you tap into the real motivation behind your goal and desire.
For example, let’s examine our goal to lose 5 pounds.
Goal: To lose 5 pounds by May 25th.
Why: Because I want to look better
Why: Because I have been invited to a weekend event with old friends
Why: Because we are going to a warm destination on the beach and I will be wearing a swimsuit
Why: Because I want to enjoy myself and not think about how I look
Why: Because I do not go on vacation very often and this is a chance to reconnect with friends
Now, instead of just wanting to look better, I have attached feelings of wanting to feel more comfortable in my skin while enjoying time on the beach with old friends. This will certainly make it easier to achieve my goal and stay on track when temptations rear their ugly heads.
A SMART Goal Example
Looking back to our example of losing 5 pounds, how might we put this into a smart goal? If I were to write this down it might look like this,
“My goal is to lose 5 pounds by May 25th. That means I need to lose an average of half a pound per week. I will do this by cutting 200 calories per day from my diet and working out at the gym 3 days per week.”
Specific: Yes. Lose 5 pounds.
Measurable: Yes. Lose an average of half a pound per week.
Assignable: Yes. I am the one in charge of meeting this goal.
Realistic: Yes! Anything less than 2 pounds of weight loss per week is considered realistic by health and nutrition experts.
Time-related: Yes. The goal end date is set as May 25th.
Why Should I Write Down My SMART GOALS?
Now that you have an idea of how to set SMART goals, the final step is to write them down.
YES! actually take pen to paper and write them down. For especially difficult goals, I will write them down several times and place them is strategic places where they will help and motivate me most.
With our weight loss example, I might place a note on the refrigerator (to remind me as I eat), on the door (to remind me to go to the gym), and on the bathroom mirror (since I see that a few times a day). I would also add calendar reminders for the gym classes so that I wouldn’t forget.
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What are your top SMART goals for this year? Let me know in the comments below so we can encourage each other to follow our dreams.
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