Goals make us stronger, motivate us, help to achieve success just the way we see it. They are part of every aspect of life: relationships, work, rest and leisure, etc. Everything comes down to priorities, and what you would like to accomplish in every aspect.
Accomplishments like inventing the computer or the electric car, sending someone to the moon, founding Namecheap Inc. are the result of a goal that was set at some point. A vision that was charted and realized.
In order to achieve any goal, it should be specified and planned. For example, just challenging yourself to “do more work” is way too vague as you’ve got no way of tracking your progress, no endpoint. We suggest setting S.M.A.R.T. goals as a solution here, as you can break them down into five quantifiable factors.
Think of a small goal you want to set right now, personal or professional. To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria, actually explaining this acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.
S – Specific
The goal should have a clear, highly-specific endpoint. The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you’ll get exactly that. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between “I want to travel” and “I want to take a tour Berlin-Paris-Prague after getting the job and having worked for three months.”
Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are as follows:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- Why do I want to reach exactly this goal?
- With whom?
- What are the conditions and limitations?
M – Measurable
You need to be able to accurately track your progress, so you can judge when a goal will be met. It means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. We recommend breaking your goal down into measurable elements. As the proverb says, “eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
Think about the concrete evidence of reaching the goal. Being happier is not evidence; adhering to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Setting milestones by considering specific tasks to accomplish will make your goal more tangible because this provides a way to measure progress. Think of the metrics you are going to use to determine if you meet the goal.
A – Achievable
When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.
An achievable goal can answer such questions as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
Investigating whether the goal is really acceptable to you. Weigh the effort, time and costs your goal will take against the profits, obligations and other priorities you have in life.
If you don’t have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal, you will most likely fail and become demotivated. But there’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
R – Relevant
This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. The goal you pick should be pertinent to your chosen field or should benefit you directly.
A relevant goal can answer “yes” to the next questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
If you’re lacking certain skills, you can plan training. If you lack certain resources, you can look for ways of getting them.
Think of the main reason you want to reach this goal, the objectives behind the goal and if this goal will really achieve them.
T – Timely
Setting a timeframe for your goal helps quantify it further and keeps your focus on track. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So, set the deadlines for your specific tasks and keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the following questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Another important thing when setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is formulating them positively. As practice shows, what we focus on – increases. So when we focus on not doing something, all we think about is that thing. And it will increase. For instance, “stop procrastinating” can be turned into “achieve a daily discipline”.