A client texted me the other day stating that they were ready for the next step in their journey. My response? ” A ship without ports has no destination.” Similar to their question was my son’s goal that he had written down when he went away to a soccer camp for a week. As I was helping him to clean up his dorm room and separate out what looked like his and his roommate’s, I ran what he had wrote. For the week, he had stated that he wanted to increase the distance and accuracy of his goal kicks. Like most people when writing goals they are general and not very specific. They are not S.M.A.R.T. goals.
S.M.A.R.T. goals are different than most goals that people write. For instance, around 40% of people make New Year’s resolutions. Only about 8% of them are successful. Why is that? Because, again, the goals they have written are not S.M.A.R.T. goals.
So what are S.M.A.R.T. goals and how can they help you? They key differences between goals that are too general ( I want to lose weight. I want to get rid of debt) and S.M.A.R.T. goals are that S.M.A.R.T. goals bring structure and accountability to whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish.
S stands for SPECIFIC. The clearer that you become in what it is that you want to accomplish or achieve, the better likelihood you will have of achieving. For instance, stating that you want to lose weight, is not the same nor is it as specific as stating that you want to lose 25 pounds. Additionally, stating I WILL instead of I SHOULD is much more specific and much more powerful. I WILL indicates that you are going to do something whereas I SHOULD sounds like a good idea and maybe one day I will get around to it.
M stands for MEASURABLE. When you reach the specific goal what will you see, feel, hear when you reach your goal? If you are trying to lose 25 pounds let’s say, you will see the new weight on the scale. You may feel that your clothes are looser. You might hear from others comments on what have you been doing and they are noticing the change.
A stands for ATTAINABLE. While your goal might be specific and measurable, a key question is to consider whether or not it is really attainable. Can you commit the time, effort, and resources needed in order for you to achieve your goal? An example of this is when I wanted to enroll in a yoga teacher training program. I did lots of research on the cost, how long the programs were, as well as meeting with several people. Once I had all this information, I then had conversation with my wife as we discussed the time, effort, and resources needed in order for me to achieve this goal that I had set for myself. We decided that this could be done and to date it remains one of the best learning experiences that I have engaged in.
R stands for RELEVANT. An important question to ask yourself, is does this goal that you have even matter to you? Does it truly resonate with you or is it something that you doing because everyone else seems to be doing? When you think about not embarking on this journey of working towards achieving this goal, does it leave you with an achy feeling? Good, then it is relevant. My wife, ran her first marathon a little over a year after we started dating. She ran her second marathon after the birth of our two kids. It was relevant to her because she wanted to prove to herself that she could run another marathon after having a couple of kids.
T is for TIMELY. Nothing makes people spring into action like deadlines. Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, are time bound. They do not change. If you are to work on your goal, then setting a specific date as to when you will accomplish this goal will set the finish line firmly in the ground. For instance, if you wanted to be credit card debt free by x date, then you had better start getting your balances on all your debt now and then start to formulate a plan for being debt free by x date.
Like a ship without ports, general goals without being S.M.A.R.T. will leave you adrift. Instead, by making goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely, it will have you cruising to destinations and achievements that you didn’t think were possible.