SMART goal setting provides a framework you can use as a solid foundation for anything you want to achieve. For a goal to be considered SMART, it must meet the following five criteria. When it does, you can ensure that your goals move from the planning page to reality.
Being specific with your goals drives achievement because you spell out exactly what you want to achieve. Vague goals don’t drive you because there’s not enough direction in them to sustain extended effort. The more precisely you state your goal, the more likely you are to end up where you want to be. This is why “Pick up three sacks of trash from the park” is more effective than “Clean up the neighborhood” as a goal statement.
How do you know when you’ve completed a goal if you’re not measuring along the way? Use numbers, dates, and other tangible mark points to identify your end goal and track your progress along the way. That way when you meet your goal, you will know exactly what you have achieved.
When setting SMART goals, or any other kind of goal, you want to be sure you are pushing yourself while still remaining in the real world. Your goals need to be realistically achievable in order to truly attainable. Don’t set low hurdles, but be aware of your own limitations and the economic forces around you when you set your goals. You won’t push yourself to achieve a goal you secretly feel is impossible, but neither will you value a success that comes too easily.
To be relevant, your goals need to correspond with the direction you want to move in your work and personal life. You may have always dreamed of being a professional singer, but working toward that goal doesn’t help you achieve the promotion you want at work. Identify what is the most important to you, and ensure that your goals align to those priorities.
Like the measurement aspect, having time bound goals is another way to mark off your progress and realize your success. Without a timeframe, you have no deadlines to motivate you, and the lack of an end date also robs you of a chance to measure your progress and adjust your work as needed to meet the mark.