Is it possible to start a New Year and not set goals? I know, it seems trite, but reality is, there is something about a fresh calendar to give us new perspective. So even if New Year’s resolutions don’t appeal to you, there’s nothing wrong with taking a second look at what we want for this upcoming month, year, or even life! Are your goals things that can be accomplished? How are you laying out your benchmarks? Will you know if you are wandering off track?
One of the things I teach students returning to school is to set “SMART” goals. concept often taught in business schools and conferences, since I’ve been teaching it, it’s gotten into my daily life. It’s helped in surprising ways, and probably in ways I don’t even know yet.
So how might you use this for your life? With these simple tools, you can adjust your goals so they are achievable – and you’ll know you are on the right path to getting them done.
Here are the basics:
S – Specific. Are your goals specific? That might seem like a “well, duh” statement, but think about it. Is your goal something like, “I want to get a better job?” While that is narrowing it down a little, there’s still plenty of room for error. What defines a better job? What would it look like? Get really specific with your goal. “I want to find a job in Human Resources, as an assistant or above, earning $_____/year.” Now that’s specific.
M – Measurable. Are your goals measurable? If you want to complete your goal by the end of the year, then yes, it is. But what if it will take less – or more – time than that? You might say something like: “I will add one new vegetable or fruit to my menu each week.” That’s measurable, because you can review your grocery receipts to keep yourself accountable.
A – Achievable. Are your goals things that can be accomplished with the skills you have? Do you need to take a class? Have other people done it? What tools do you need to make it happen? So if you want to quit smoking or lose weight, examine the methods at your disposal and what you think will work best for you.
R – Realistic. Sometimes we set goals, and they aren’t possible in the given time frame, or with the skills we have. Suppose you want to learn to master the guitar – in months. While it’s admirable, and you may have significant skill in musi, given the time you have available and that time frame, it might not be possible to master the guitar. In situations like this, we evaluate the time or task we’ve chosen, and adjust it accordingly. “I will master the guitar so that I can play in front of a live audience in years, and commit to taking lessons weekly until that goal is accomplished.”
T – Time-frame oriented. All goals must have a time frame. It’s not enough to say, “I will quit smoking.” Let’s face it – that could happen anytime…or never! Instead, try, “I will quit smoking by April 1, 2014.” Now you can set mini-goals each week to lessen the amount of cigarettes you are smoking and make that goal a reality.
SMART goals aren’t hard to do, but they do take a little work. Often, we get frustrated because we aren’t accomplishing the things we want to. But if we take a moment, evaluate their SMART elements, we find that we simply need to adjust our direction, give it some parameters, and voilà! We have victory!
What are goals you are working on that need some fine-turning using the SMART goal theory? How have you succeeded in using it?