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SMART Goals: How to Set Goals and Achieve Them

Updated on December 1, 2018
GA Anderson profile image

GA Anderson writes about mystical and psychological symbol interpretations and how to apply them to your dreams.

Make Your Goal a SMART Goal You Can Achieve

It isn't about setting wise smart goals, it's about a goal setting system that will help you set goals that you can really achieve.

The S.M.A.R.T. Goal system will transform yours from a stated desire, into a plan of action with steps and objectives that make it an achievable work-in-progress.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for;

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • and time-based

These tips and suggestions will address each part of the SMART goal setting process, and how to make it work for you.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals System
S.M.A.R.T. Goals System | Source

"I Want to Lose Some Weight" is Not a Goal

It is a wish, and trying to use it as a goal will almost certainly result in a frustrating failure.

How much weight do you mean? Why? By when - next summer? How will you know if you achieve it? Is 5 pounds enough, or do you mean a lot more?

As you can see, that goal needs some work before it can be something you can really work on, rather than just wish for.

This is where turning it into a S.M.A.R.T. goal will help guarantee a better chance of success.

An Achievable Goal - Lose 10 lbs. by Bikini time
An Achievable Goal - Lose 10 lbs. by Bikini time | Source
Specific Goal Setting Steps
Specific Goal Setting Steps | Source

Be Specific - What Do You Want To Achieve

"I want to lose some weight" is not a specific goal, so it needs a few answers.

  • Why do you want to lose weight? - Because I want to be able to wear a bikini on our summer vacation.
  • How much weight do you want to lose? - 10 pounds will do it, as long as I tone up while I lose it.
  • Is there a deadline to achieve your goal? - Yes, we go on a 2-week summer vacation beginning May 10th.

Of course your particular goal may require more, or fewer questions to narrow it down to a specific statement, but you can see this step has changed the vague "I want to lose some weight" into a more specific, "I want to lose 10 pounds by May 10th" goal.

And that was a big step. Imagine how much easier it is to visualize achieving that, versus the original "wish."

Measure your goal to achieve it.
Measure your goal to achieve it. | Source

Make It a Measurable Goal

Is the goal to " lose 10 pounds by May 10th," measurable? Of course it is, with the bathroom scale and bedroom mirrors. And it is measurable in a couple other ways:

  • Most importantly it is a definite number - 10 pounds, and it can be measured by using weight scales
  • It is incrementally measurable - you can measure steps of achievement. Weekly weigh-ins can be definite progress guides. If May 10th is 4 months away, then an achievable goal would be to lose 2.5 pounds a month.
  • It is visually measurable - try the bikini on when you start, and then maybe each month. Visual progress will be an extra motivator.

Different goals are measurable in different ways, this was an easy example. The point is that if you can't measure your progress or success, then it is not a SMART goal, and has very little chance of success.

Make sure your goal is within your abilities and attainable.
Make sure your goal is within your abilities and attainable. | Source

Be Realistic - Is Your Goal Attainable

Making sure your goal is attainable is not just smart - it is critical!

If your goal is unrealistic or unattainable, then why even consider it? If you weigh 105 pounds, then a goal to lose 40 pounds is not a realistic goal. Or if you are 65 years old and working in the mail room, then a goal to become your company's CEO in one year is probably out of reach, and unrealistic.

Understanding your personality, lifestyle, and typical habits;

  • Is losing 10 pounds by May 10th attainable? - yes it is. I can moderate my eating habits and develop an easy exercise routine.

Make sure you have a honest and reasonable chance of success.

Make your goal relevant to your life and desires
Make your goal relevant to your life and desires | Source

Make It Relevant to Your Life and Desires

In order for your goal to have a chance for success, you have to want it.

If it isn't really relevant to your life or desires -- it just sounds good -- it isn't going to motivate you very strongly to accomplish it.

  • Do I really want to lose 10 pounds, or is it just something somebody mentioned? Yes I do want to lose the weight. I want to wear a bikini.

If it was a friend's idea that you lose 10 pounds by May to fit into your bikini, but it really doesn't matter to you very much, then you probably won't be very motivated to work towards achieving it.

So ask the question, "Why am I setting this goal, is it something I really want?"

Set a goal timeline, and a deadline
Set a goal timeline, and a deadline | Source

Achievable Goals Are Time-Based With Checkpoints and Deadlines

A SMART goal has a deadline. It has progress checkpoints It is not an open ended effort that you just work at until you succeed or fail.

Without the impetus of a deadline, or intermediate "checkpoints," there is no real motivation to "get it done."

"I want to lose 10 pounds by May 10th" has a deadline; May 10th. And because it is a measurable goal, it could also have progress "checkpoints;" 2.5 pounds per month.

Both of these provide a motivating factor to drive you to successfully achieve the goal. Especially the "checkpoints," each one will renew your commitment as you evaluate your progress with a weigh-in.

In Other Words:

S.M.A.R.T. Should Have an Ending "S" for Steps

Making a S.M.A.R.T. goal will enhance your chances of success, but it really should be S.M.A.R.T.S. - with an extra "S" for Steps.

Writing the steps you plan to take to achieve your goal will help you successfully achieve it.

So here it is.

Achieve your goal in steps, not leaps
Achieve your goal in steps, not leaps | Source

A SMARTS Goal Has Steps to Success

Creating a SMART goal is the first step. Now you need a plan to achieve it.

The undisputed #1 step to help you achieve your SMART goal is "Write it down!" Make it visual, not just a thought in you mind.

"I want to lose 10 pounds by May 10th."

Then write down the steps you will take, or need to take, to achieve it.

What will I do to lose the weight?

  • I will reduce the size of my meal portions and eat more salads
  • I will stop buying bags of snacks at the grocery store
  • I will switch to diet sodas, and stop drinking so many
  • I will start walking more, and try to get more outside exercise
  • I will try to get Susie to do this with me - we can help each other stick to it
  • I will weigh myself each week and keep a journal on my progress

Adding the extra "S for Steps" to you SMART goal will give you the motivation of having a plan. Now, not only do you know what you want to accomplish, but you also have a plan for how you will do it. A much better start than just saying I want to lose weight!

A Successful Goal Setting

A Goal Achieved
A Goal Achieved | Source

© 2018 ga anderson


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