We’ve already discussed the benefits of setting goals and working toward them. Today we’re taking a look at the nuts and bolts of actually setting goals. Getting off to a good start in making goals will make it easier to achieve them. Let’s get started!
There’s a popular acronym for creating great goals. There are many versions, but SMART usually stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.
A specific goal is one that is well-defined and easily made clear. Instead of saying, “I will learn to play the guitar,” you could say, “I will learn to play ‘Sweet Caroline’ on the guitar.” This way you have a result in sight, rather than a vague expectation.
A measurable goal can be accomplished in a way you can prove. Saying “I will lose weight” is a fantastic idea, but it lacks a measurable component. If you say, “I will lose 5 pounds,” then you’ll know exactly when you’ve achieved your goal.
An achievable goal is a goal that you have or can attain the means to accomplish. We’d all love to purchase a mansion, but the funds might not be attainable at this time. Instead, a goal would be to make specific improvements to your current accommodations.
A realistic goal is one that you can hope to achieve in real life. This doesn’t mean to dream small—there are many dreams that can come true with enough hard work. To set a realistic goal is to work toward success within your current means or situation. Instead of wishing to go to the moon, start saving for a landmark vacation. Rather than wishing to be in the NFL, decide that you will get in shape to compete in a marathon or half marathon.
A time-based goal is essential for turning your goals into triumphs. Many people make goals without any set plan on when to make them a reality. It’s too easy for life to get in the way. You could say, “I’d love to pay off my credit card,” but it lacks intention compared to “I will pay off my credit card by the end of August.” It’s very easy to say, “I’ll fix that leaky faucet.” A SMART goal is to say, “I’ll fix that leaky faucet on Tuesday at seven o’clock.”
Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Another key aspect of making goals is knowing the difference between short-term and long-term goals. Both are crucial, and the SMART philosophy can be used for both. The difference lies only in the scope of the goal and how soon it can be accomplished. A short-term goal is something that could be accomplished right now, today, or very soon. A long-term goal is usually much larger and may take some time, perhaps even years, to accomplish. We often hear people speak about long-term plans in the form of a Five-Year Plan.
Long-term goals are more complex. The beauty of creating SMART goals is that you can break up a large goal into smaller, achievable actions. One specific example would be paying off the mortgage on a home within five years. Knowing where to start, can be overwhelming until you take a look at what can be done right now. The first step would be to set aside more money every month. Another might be to look at ways to raise extra funds, such as a family member taking on a part-time job. You’ll be amazed at the mountains you can conquer by checking off the tiny SMART goals!
We hope that you have found encouragement and useful information in this look at setting goals. In the days and years to come, you’re sure to achieve goals you can be proud of. Just remember to be SMART when you set your aim. We wish you the best of luck in your endeavors!