How to Make the SMART Goal System Work for You
Start Achieving More With SMART-ER Goals
Maybe you wish were a singer, artist, or poet. Maybe you wish you were a successful entrepreneur, a CEO, or inventor. Or you want to compete in the Olympics. Maybe you just want to be able to pay your bills or lose weight.
You dream of this, maybe daily, and wish it were so, but life gets in the way and time marches on. You think: "Maybe I wasn't blessed with that gift; some people have it and some people don't." Or perhaps: "Some people are just lucky, I guess."
But that thinking is erroneous and will not get you anywhere. Goals WILL get you somewhere, but only if you hone them until they are crystal clear, and then follow up with discipline. You see, goals are only wishes until you make them your reality, and that is very rarely going to happen by some stroke of luck or magic. You have got to follow through with concrete steps you can take each and every day, even if they are small steps, and you have to track your progress.
The following ideas are not new, but I put my own twist on them. Then at the end, I add a couple of things that I think makes this an even better system for achieving success.
How to Use the SMART Goal System
Most everyone's heard of the system known as SMART goals. But I'm proposing taking it to the next level with SMART-ER goals. Below, I put my own spin on the SMART goal system, with practical advice.
SMART goals are:
- Specific: But what does it mean to have a specific goal? Is saying "I want to have financial freedom" really a specific goal? Put a timeframe and a dollar amount on your goal, then do the math on what it would take to get there. If your goal is to bank $100k in 10 years, you need to bank $10k per year, so by year five you should have $50k. That means banking $833 a month, or approximately $27 per day. Break it down until you have a daily goal.
- Measurable: Can you measure your goal? Is it big and long-term? Think big and plan for the future. Don't ever back down. 10 years goes by in the blink of an eye, so figure out where you want to be in that time and what you want to create for yourself—and what you will need to do each day in order to get there. If you want to be a rock guitarist, set your sights on Jimmy Page, then start practicing daily, take lessons, learn riffs, then songs, then learn to improvise, and develop your own style. Experiment and always try to take your skill to the next level. Make a list of things you want to accomplish and don't let your current situation blind you to what is possible, you can do it!
- Attainable: Is the goal attainable? Don't ask yourself if you need to "adjust your expectations." Ask yourself: "Is it possible, some way, somehow, to do what it takes in 10 years, in five, in one?" And each day do what you need to do to achieve this goal. Remember that all possibilities remain possible always. Instead of hanging your head and thinking that it is too hard, start thinking about how you can adjust your daily activities in order to support the achievement of your goal.
- Relevant: Is the goal relevant to you, to what you are about? Is it near and dear to your heart? What is the purpose behind saving that $100k? Do you want to buy some item, have money for a loved one's needs, or invest in something that will give you a good return? Make a visual display for yourself, and post it somewhere you will see it daily. Don't skimp on this exercise. Do it. If it is a car you want, post a picture of that car. You could even have someone Photoshop a picture of you into the car! Visual displays of your goals will help them become more real to you.
- Trackable: Develop a chart or graph to chart your progress. I've created a goal sheet you can print for free. It's at the end of this article—use it! No journey is completed without a road map and compass. There are many examples of goal tracking charts to be found online if you don't like what I made for you. Simple daily points on a graph can help you visualize how well you are doing and keep you focused on your goal. Don't beat yourself up if you miss something any given day or even for a couple of days. Just get back on track at the soonest possible time.
That is my "take" on the SMART part of the goal system everyone knows so well. Now read on for my addition, and make your goal plan SMART-ER!
SMART Goals Made Even SMART-ER
- Enforceable: Will you discipline yourself to reach this goal? What does self-discipline mean? Some people confuse discipline with punishment. Discipline is better explained by using the word training. If you are always hitting the snooze button, start training yourself to not do that. Waking up on time starts with going to bed on time. Turn everything off and go to sleep rather than staying up "just a few more minutes." It all starts with one day of doing one thing that you know you can and should be doing. Don't bite off more than you can chew, but don't keep cheating yourself by choosing not to do the things you need to either. Choose one, two, or three things you CAN do, and implement them every day. Keep track. Then at the end of the week, congratulate yourself and even reward yourself in some small way. Even if you managed four out of seven days the first week, you have come a long way. Celebrating your wins will help you stay focused and disciplined.
- Reached: My last addition. Did you set a goal that you really planned to reach? Everything that has ever been achieved by anyone started as a thought in their mind, progressed to something they believed in, and was developed via positive feelings, inspiration, and a decision to follow through with action. Don't set a goal, and then set out to prove it cannot be done. Get your head right every morning by reminding yourself of your goal. It is easy to say this, but to actually do it and mean it is another thing. Literally writing your goal down every morning will help to make it more real. Then make a decision that you will do whatever it is that you need to do that day to get one step closer to your goal. Also, do whatever it takes to get yourself motivated for the day. That could be a motivational video, some exciting music, exercise, repetition of positive affirmations, or whatever gets you pumped. Don't skimp on this step either. Make your dreams a reality!
Have you gotten smarter yet? Post a goal you've got and what you are doing to achieve it.