Got Goals? Get S.M.A.R.T.
Posted: January 07, 2015
With the New Year arriving, I’ve been paying close attention to anything I can find that’s goal oriented or goal related. Recently, I ran across something that really helped me out as I started working to grow our fitness center and martial arts school.
It was the acronym S.M.A.R.T. paired with the word goals: S.M.A.R.T. goals. The idea was that goals are great, but sometimes, they still won’t get you there. For better results, it helps to zero in a little bit. Our goals need to be smarter.
As with all acronyms, each letter stands for something important. Here’s what you need to know about S.M.A.R.T goals.
• Smart Goals are Specific:
For goals to be attainable, we need to spell out exactly what we want to accomplish. A goal that’s too vague won’t have enough mojo to get you across the finish line.
“Losing weight and getting in shape” is a good goal for anyone, but it’s all too easy to set aside. Saying you need “to lose 8-10 lbs by the end of January” is better. And saying you’re going to “walk 2 miles every morning, get to the gym 5 times, and lose 3 pounds this week” is even better.
• Smart Goals are Measurable:
It’s hard to gauge your progress if you don’t have a way to track your performance. You need to know where you are, and where you’re wanting to go. It would be silly to try and lose weight without ever weighing in. You just have to know that information. It’s the same for any other goal you might have. Track it.
This is especially helpful when looking at your diet. If you don’t track it, you’re guessing, and people rarely guess right. There are some great apps in your phone App Store that will help you track your intake.
• Smart Goals are Achievable:
It’s good to shoot for big things. In the 60’s, President Kennedy said we were going to “go to the the moon in this decade.” But then the folks at N.A.S.A. had to develop a whole series of smaller goals to get us there.
If a goal is too big, you might not even believe it’s possible. Sometimes you’ve got to prove it to yourself. Break your bigger goal down into smaller, more achievable action steps. Then when you start hitting your smaller goals, momentum starts building up toward your big goal. So does your mojo.
• Smart Goals are Relevant:
To make sense, your smaller, action steps must have a direct impact on your progress toward your main objective. Here’s where tracking things pays off. You may realize your efforts haven’t really made a difference, so that lets you know you need to change something. If they’re working, you have confidence to stay the course.
Maybe you need to adjust the goal. Maybe you just need to adjust your methods. But to continue investing time, money or energy, you want to know it’s making a difference. Achieving these goals has got to move you in the right direction. If not, then you need to change goals.
• Smart Goals are Timely:
Some things are just going to take time. Few things come easily that are worthwhile. But you’ve got to be able to see some progress toward your goal.
If not, you’ll lose focus, and then you’ll lose confidence. Once you lose momentum, it’s easy to lose hope. You need to know you’re moving the needle at least a little bit.
I’ve seen quite a few people lose 100 pounds, but none of them did it overnight. In each case, it became easier for them to focus on losing 3-4 lbs THIS week, and then doing it again the next week.
Students often have graduation in the back of their mind, especially as they move closer to it. But THIS week, they need to be focused on writing THIS paper, and passing THAT exam so they do well in THAT course, THIS semester. You see? It’s very specific and very timely.
If you use the S.M.A.R.T. goal concept often, it will kind of become second nature. On a daily basis, I call it “doing the smart thing.” It’s specific, it’s measurable, it’s achievable, it’s relevant, and it’s definitely timely.
I hope you’ll set some new goals in 2015. Better yet, make em S.M.A.R.T. ones!