In our fast-paced world, setting goals has become crucial for personal and professional success. However, merely stating our aspirations is not enough. It’s time to turn to pen and paper and start writing these down. You could use a vision board, a sticky note pad, a custom notebook. It’s up to you, but it’s time to start writing.
To turn anything into reality, we need a structured and strategic approach. This is where the S.M.A.R.T. goal method/map comes into play. I have known about the smart goal method for years, but it was really the recent months at the Jay Shetty school where we really dove into the S.M.A.R.T. goal method. And it worked well for a lot of people. So today, I’m going to share with you the exact framework that we used in coach training to set some smart goals.
By employing this effective framework, we can transform our ambitions into actionable plans. In this blog, we will explore the S.M.A.R.T. goal method and learn how it can empower us to achieve our desired outcomes.
Understanding S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let’s delve into each component to comprehend the significance of this goal-setting strategy.
- Specific is terrific
When setting goals, it is absolutely necessary to be specific about what we want to accomplish. Vague aspirations make it difficult to create a roadmap for success. By clearly defining our objectives, we gain clarity and focus. For example, instead of saying, “I want to improve my fitness,” a specific goal would be, “I want to run a 5K race within three months.” For myself I started running July 2022. And by October I was looking for a spring race, I think that once you start something new, or improved. Eventually you want a challenge, and so specific is terrific. Just don’t forget that sometimes it takes time.
To gauge progress and stay motivated, goals must be measurable. My son plays Mario Kart, and when he gets to certain points on the terrain, he gets to smack a flag. Then when he dies (or runs out of energy) he goes back to that flag. NOT back to the beginning. When we can measure our achievements, we gain a sense of accomplishment and the drive to keep moving forward. For instance, if our goal is to read more, we can set a measurable target of finishing one book per month. When you are done, write it down in your journal. I have read 9 books so far this year, and I know that because I write it down.
Setting realistic goals is vital to prevent discouragement and maintain motivation. While it’s important to challenge ourselves, aiming too high without considering our resources or capabilities can lead to frustration. By ensuring that our goals are attainable, we increase the likelihood of success. You can dream build all you like, and eventually hit one of those BHAG’s right now. 3 years down the road, who’s to say what happens. Another example is if our objective is to learn a new language, we can start with a realistic goal of dedicating 30 minutes each day to language study. That way, yes in 3 years you will have learned a new language. But it was those small weekly/monthly goals that got you there.
Goals must align with our values, and interests. It’s important to evaluate whether our goals are relevant to our long-term vision and contribute meaningfully to our personal growth. If a goal lacks relevance, it may distract us from what truly matters. Therefore, it’s crucial to ask ourselves these 2 questions:
- Does this goal align with my core values?
- Will achieving it bring me closer to my desired future?
Answer these and find out if whatever you are thinking about should actually be added to the goal list.
And lastly, time-bound
Setting a deadline for my goals helps me stay focused. A small sense of urgency comes with that, but I like to reframe it to focus. Without a timeframe, goals tend to lose priority, and procrastination becomes a hurdle. By establishing a specific date or timeline for achievement, I can effectively manage my time and prioritize my efforts. For example, a time-bound goal would be, “I will complete my online course within six weeks.” This one will take hundreds of smaller goals to get to this one goal. Breaking it down a little further, using a smaller example would be “I want to use a meal planner each week”. This one has to be done weekly, and so the sense of urgency is built in.
Creating a S.M.A.R.T. Goal Map
Now that we understand the components of S.M.A.R.T. goals, let’s explore how to create a goal map using this framework.
- Identify your long-term vision:
Begin by envisioning your desired future. What are your long-term aspirations? This overarching vision will guide your goal-setting process.
- Set specific and measurable goals:
Break down your long-term vision into smaller, specific goals. Ensure that each goal is measurable so that you can track your progress effectively.
- Assess achievability and relevance:
Evaluate each goal to determine if it is attainable given your resources, capabilities, and circumstances. Consider whether each goal aligns with your values and contributes to your overall growth.
- Establish time-bound deadlines:
Assign deadlines to each goal to create a sense of urgency and accountability. Set realistic deadlines that allow for steady progress while keeping you motivated. I knew that once I started running, the goals I set were realistic for my current lifestyle.
- Develop an action plan:
Outline the steps and actions required to achieve each goal. Break them down into smaller tasks and create a timeline for completion. This plan will serve as your roadmap to success. It doesn’t have to be fancy at all, a simple pen and paper will do. I often use GlooMaps to create an online map/drawing so I can visualize where I am going with it.
- Monitor progress and make adjustments:
Regularly review my progress against my goals. Plans change. Life changes. Things will change. And the superpower you hold is much like Elastic Girl in the Incredibles, it’s FLEXIBILITY. Flexibility will be key in adapting to changes and maintaining momentum towards your goal.
- Celebrate milestones and stay motivated:
Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. C’mon….you deserve something as you go. Once I ran my first 10k, Vince and I had a nice dinner on the deck! Celebrating milestones boosts your motivation and reinforces a positive mindset. Reward yourself for the progress made and use it as fuel to continue pushing forward. It’s a reminder to love the journey you are in. Because it passes, and then we miss it. It’s best to love the now.
This S.M.A.R.T. goal method/map provides a structured and effective approach to setting your goals. By following this framework, you can ensure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Remember to create a goal map, monitor progress, and make adjustments as needed. This is one way to work through any goal/challenge/decision you are trying to make.
And, always make it your own. Use this as a simple framework for success. You know you best, your life, your business, your relationships. So, you get to use this framework and create your own custom SMART goal set. You get to make it work for you.