Getting SMART with Goal Setting

We all have dreams and aspirations. Perhaps yours is paying off credit cards, or taking a vacation. Perhaps your dream is to lead a healthier lifestyle or get a promotion at work. It’s no secret, there are certain traits successful people have in common. One of them happens to be goal setting.
 
So all you need to do is set goals and you’re a rock star? Not quite.
 
Determining your goals is just the first part of a multi-step process. Setting SMART goals is an excellent way to pinpoint what is most important, what your objectives are, and how they will be fulfilled.  Though there are many versions of the SMART acronym, this is one I have found most useful in my processes.
 

Specific

The more specific details you can describe when you are determining a goal, the better. Keep your focus on the end result. For example, the goal of “getting a new car” is pretty broad. However, a goal of “getting a 2014 silver Lexus LS” is a much more specific goal – one that sets the foundation for the actions necessary for completion.

Measurable 

Consider how your success will be measured. Can your goals be systematically tracked or accounted for? What type of metrics can be used? Being able to see the progress of your goals (and how close you are to completion) can prevent burnout. Additionally, evaluation of progress can help you make any changes in areas that may be hindering your success.
 

Actionable 

It is extremely rare that excellence simply falls from the sky and into your lap- we call this luck. However, luck rarely comes into play when specific goals are at hand. You must create your own opportunities. Consider what actions you will need to take in order to obtain your goal. Certainly you do not have all the resources; otherwise, you’d have already purchased or experienced the goal! Be strategic and thorough.
 

Realistic

Without a doubt, this is can be one of the toughest parts of setting SMART goals.  Don’t believe me? Consider New Year’s resolutions and how many times they are broken. More often than not, it’s because these goals and expectations are set outside of the limitations one may have. So you’re not the son of Krypton; it’s OK, none of us are. Make sure your goal is something that is obtainable so you’re setting yourself up for success.
 

Timely

Your goal must have a beginning, but more importantly, it must have an end. Without these essential parameters, the goal either never gets done, or never gets started. As Lao Tzu said, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” Nothing is truer when it comes to achieving your goals. You need to know what you want and where you’re going.
 
Nothing is sweeter than looking down from the summit of a goal. By organizing your strategy, there are very few things that can stand in your way. So what are you waiting for? Go get ’em and Carpe Diem.
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