If you’re heading off on a cross-country road trip, you wouldn’t leave without directions. However, many of us start off on our journey toward achieving a goal without directions or a plan. Many people are unsuccessful in accomplishing goals because their goals are unclear or vague, they can’t or don’t measure their progress and they never reevaluate their goals. To avoid running into these problems, set SMARTER goals along with short and long term goals. Once you have a long term goal, it is easy to break down that goal into smaller, shorter goals that you can measure your progress towards.
How to set SMARTER goals
S: Be Super Specific
Setting a specific goal helps focus efforts and clearly defines what you hope to accomplish. A specific resolution will usually answer the five “W” questions:
- Who: Who is involved?
- What: What do I want to accomplish?
- Where: Identify a location to work towards the goal (i.e. gym, outside etc.)
- When: When should it be performed?
- Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing your goals.
M: Must be Measureable
Establish a method of measuring your progress and evaluating your accomplishments. Measuring your progress ensures you stay on track. A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
A: Attainable & Achievable
Goals should be attainable and achievable. You need to set a goal that requires energy and discipline to accomplish, but they shouldn’t be so difficult that you cannot reach it. An attainable goal usually answers the question:
- How can the goal be accomplished and is it realistic?
R: Not Just Realistic but Relevant
Goals should not only be specific, measurable, and attainable but they should be relevant and they should MATTER. A goal that supports or is in alignment with other goals would be considered a relevant goal. A relevant goal answers yes to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time to focus on this goal?
- Does this match my other efforts/needs?
T: Be Timely
Goals have an end point that can be found on a calendar. Timeframes tied to your goals provide a sense of urgency to help motivate you. You should identify how long it will take to complete each step in your action plan and set up a timeline. After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish. A time-specific goal will usually answer the question:
- When will I reach my goal?
- What can I do 6 months from now?
- What can I do 6 weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
E: Evaluate Your Goals Regularly
It is important to continually evaluate your progress. This should be done throughout the entire goal process, as well as after the goal is met. The idea is to create a progress report to evaluate where you are in reaching your goal and to adjust your goals regularly to account for any changes.
R: Redo and Don’t Forget to Reward Yourself!
Just to emphasize the point again, goals should be redone after evaluating whether or not you are on the right track to achieving them or if circumstances have changed since you initially made your resolution. Once you have gone through all of the steps of the SMARTER resolutions, it’s time to reward yourself in a healthy way! Rewarding yourself for achieving major milestone can help keep you focused on your goals. Reward yourself once you achieve all of your short term goals and again when you reach your long term goal. Every step towards your goal is a step in the right direction and that should be celebrated!