Every year around this time, I like to review my goals for the new year. Resolutions are fine, important even, but for them to become a reality, they need to become real goals. S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym made up of the first letter from five different, things that make your goals much more likely to happen. If you have S.M.A.R.T. goals, more often than not, you’re going to to be successful.
S. stands for Specific. If your goals are too general, they’re really more ideas then they are goals. The trick is to be very specific about what you want to do. Rather than say you want to lose weight, say, “My goal is to lose 20 pounds.” You can even be more specific than that: “I want to lose 2 pounds a week for the next 10 weeks.”
M. stands for Measurable. If you can’t measure it in some way, it’s too nebulous. You have to be able to see what kind of progress you’re making. That means you need to be able to compare where you are to where you were. That one’s easy in weight loss. Just get on the scale every Monday morning or evening.
A. stands for Achievable. If you say you want to go to the moon, well, we haven’t been there since the 70’s. We might get back there some day, but a more achievable goal might be to become an astronaut. You could get your pilot’s license, and fly for the military. You would need a strong science curriculum in high school and then a college major that specializes in some skill or discipline needed in space. See what I mean?
R. stands for Relevant. Like all five things, there is a little overlap between them. In the example just above, we picked a course of study that would lend itself toward being useful to people in the space industry, or N.A.S.A. You probably wouldn’t go to chef school, right?
T. stands for Timely. If your goals are open-ended, they usually never end, meaning you usually don’t get there. There’s too much wiggle-room. Nail it down. When will you achieve it?
Older generations recall President Kennedy’s famous 1962 speech: “We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we intend to win, and the others, too.”
A decade was extremely ambitious, but we got there, in less than 10 years, too! The President set the time frame, and everything else followed. Just 7 years later, in the summer of ’69, astronaut Neil Armstrong took those first steps, saying “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
There are a couple of other things we need to remember, when creating S.MA.R.T. goals. If it’s not written down, it’s probably not going to happen. It’s also a good idea to tell others. If you keep it to yourself, you can walk away, and no one will be the wiser. Spread the word.
I polled the people finishing the last Biggest Loser yesterday. Almost everyone said the most important thing they got from Biggest Loser was “accountability.” Find a way to make yourself accountable, and you’ll find your way to success.
So as we move into 2016, don’t be tentative. Start with resolutions, perhaps, but take it a step further. Set some real goals. Be S.M.A.R.T. about them. Now, let’s get started!