Goals are hard. Creating goals is hard, following through with goals is hard, and actually achieving goals is the hardest. I struggle with mine every day! This is clearly exhibited in how badly I failed at achieving my December goals. However, I need to remember that there is a magic formula to make all goals suddenly a lot easier: remembering to make them SMART.
Now, I don’t mean smart like “Oh, Sally made such a smart goal this month! She wants to read two books about space.” Nope. I mean SMART. Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Time-Based.
Right now I bet you’re thinking one of two things: “Ok Anna. I know. That all makes sense. I’ve heard this before.” OR “Um… Those are a lot of words and I’m not sure goal-setting is really that complicated.” Well I have the same answer for both those questions: Stop, and hear me out! These five things are imperative to successful goal-setting. (Also, if you’ve heard this before, you clearly need a refresher if you stumbled across this article.)
Your goal MUST be specific. Don’t write goals like, “I will get fit this year.” What does that even mean? Are you going to gain muscle? Lose weight? Train to run 10 miles without stopping? Your goals must be written in a specific manner.
An example of a poor goal would be “I’m going to read books.” Nope. How many books will you read? When will you read them? How long will it take you to read each book? There are infinite questions when you make a goal as vague as this. The only way to achieve a goal is to add some numbers into it so you can actually reach the goal. If you’re just putting infinite, general amounts of time on your goals you’ll never actually achieve anything. This brings me to the next part of SMART goals:
Jumping back on the fitness example, a poor goal would be “I’m going to lose 30 pounds this month.” Um. 30 pounds in one month? Not only is that insanely unhealthy, but it would be basically impossible. Something more achievable would be “I am going to lose 1 pound a week for 30 weeks.”
I feel like this is the most “no duh” part of SMART goal-setting. You obviously want to set goals that are relevant to your situation. Let’s say you’re in college and you have the goal of traveling the world this year, BUT you have no plans to study abroad. That’s probably a bad goal. Students are poor (I would know because I still kind of am one) and without a study abroad program to help, it’s not realistic to your current lifestyle.
Make a time-line for your goals. Be sure to set a start and end date at least. I’ve found that adding other checkpoints along the way is a good idea too.
That is how you make a SMART goal! When you put those five ideas together you might get something like this: “Starting on January 1st, 2018 I will get fit by way of going to the gym Monday-Thursday for at least 40 minutes each visit. I will weigh myself every Sunday night and plan on losing 1.5 pounds every week until I lose 30 pounds.”
I feel like it’s important to say that I did not come up with this whole idea for goal-setting on my own. You can find articles on SMART goals all over the internet. Personally, I was taught about SMART goals by my music therapy professor at the University of Minnesota. He nailed this idea into our brains for four years not only for our own sakes, but primarily so we will create SMART goals for our clients some day.
Now you are all set up to succeed in 2018 with SMART Goals! If you have any questions, comments, or constructive criticism please feel free to comment below – I love feedback! Good luck with your goals this year – I know you can do it 🙂