S.M.A.R.T. Goals

“I set myself some really good goals for this year.”

How many times have you heard this (or something like this) from someone you are close to since the start of the new year? Maybe you even said it yourself.

Let’s face it, new year goals and resolutions have become the laughingstock of most people.

Why though?

New year resolutions and goals have become such a laughing stock to many people because people frequently make ambitious goals for their new year and then give up week three of the new year. Unfortunately, just because people set a goal doesn’t mean they’ll achieve it.

The goals you set are often just as important as the work you put in.

For example, if I am someone who has never consistently worked out, my goal should not be to “work out more.” Does that mean you will work out once this year? That would be more than you did last year? Do you see where this can become a problem.

Other similar goals you will hear are: “to lose weight”, “to communicate better”, “read my Bible more”, or “get better grades”.

These are not what we call S.M.A.R.T. goals.

The acronym S.M.A.R.T. was created by George T. Doran, a consultant and former director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company in 1981*. His original acronym was

       Specific: target a specific area for improvement.

       Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.

       Assignable: specify who will do it.

       Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.

       Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

It has since been changed and revised several times. The acronym we are going to use is:

       Specific: target a specific area for improvement.

      Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.

      Achievable: a target that is reachable and reasonable.

      Relevant: a target makes practical sense in your current means.

      Time-bound: specify when the desired result should be achieved.

Given these two sets of definitions, can you see how “get better grades” is not a “SMART” goal? It’s not specific or measurable, so how do you know if its achievable? How are your current grades? Are you talking about this week? This semester?

How could you set a better goal?

Let’s say you need all B’s by the end of the semester to be eligible for a scholarship at school. Normally, you ride the fence between Cs and B’s during your average school year, and usually end with more C’s than B’s. You play a sport, but your free time is mostly spent playing video games or hanging out with friends. You struggle in school normally, but you know you could do better if you put effort in. With this in mind, how should you set a goal of “better grades”?

How about, “I want to end the semester with all A’s or B’s by not playing video games until the weekend and studying 30 minutes a night during the week”?

This goal is specific (A’s and B’s), measurable (no video games during the week, 30 minutes of study per night), achievable (“A’s and B’s” is achievable, not just shooting for “all A’s”), relevant (this makes sense for you for this scholarship), and time bound (by the end of the semester).

You can do this with any goal you want to set.

Instead of, “I want to get better at free-throws”, you say, “I am going to spend 20 minutes after practice every day working on my free-throw form.”

Or, instead of, “I want to lose weight”, you say, “I am going to do _____ exercise three days a week and only have one dessert a week.”

Let me tell you, this type of goal setting will change the way you view goals. Most people have not figured this out yet, and their results show it.

Just setting a smart goal still does not guarantee achieving that goal. You still have to put the work in. So, have any goals you want to accomplish in 2019?

Get out there! Be SMART about it, and get to work!