I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day, and we started talking about goals. I told her she should make her goals SMART. She kind of gave me one of the “huh?” looks. And it got me thinking, we all know that we need to create goals, but what does it mean to create SMART goals?
In absence of clearly defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily acts of trivia.” Author Unknown
I think the best way to answer this is to first break down what a SMART goal is.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive.
Smart Goals were first described in the book Attitude is Everything by Paul J. Meyer as a framework for writing goals. Let’s break the letters down one by one.
S – Specific: Specific is the enemy of ambiguous (or vague or unclear). The meaning is goals should be written and clearly define the what, why, who, and how. For example, “I will lose 20 pounds by completing the awesome Insanity Max 30 workout program” (okay, “awesome” isn’t necessary). The who is “I”, the what is “lose 20 pounds” and the how is the Insanity Max 30 workout.
M – Measurable – The only way to know you have completed a goal is to have a measurement to track your success. How much, how many, what is the end goal? The obvious measure in our example above is the end goal of 20 pounds lost. We could also add interim measures for tracking. For instance, in our above example, we could set a measure of a loss of 1 pound per week or 5 pounds per month.
A – Attainable – The basic premise is, is the goal realistic? Is this something that can be accomplished by the “who” within the time specified, with the resources available? This is the “reality check” step in the process. For example, if I am a 5’5 female weighing 115 pounds, a 20 pounds loss would not be realistic (at least not healthy) or if I wanted to set my loss of 20 pounds in the next two weeks, again, not healthy or realistic. Even better, for the same female as above with the goal of gaining 10 pounds of muscle in the next 30 days, not really possible. Not even sure with street pharmaceuticals that would be possible, but definitely not healthy or realistic.
R – Relevant – Some references have stated the “R” stands for realistic, but attainable covers that. Relevant basically means it applies to “who” based on the “who’s” environment, perspective, and desires. I saw a great example on Wikipedia for how to think about this “A bank manager's goal to “Make 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by 2:00 pm” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but lacks relevance.”
T – Time-bound – The basic intent is to add a sense of urgency. A commitment to a “by when” helps the “who” focus their efforts on completing the goal by the deadline. For our previous example, “I will lose 20 pounds no later than September 20, 2013, by completing the awesome Insanity Max 30 workout program”, we time bound the goal by including the end date goal of September 20, 2013.
So a SMART goal:
- has a specific clear objective,
- has an easy to understand measurement of success,
- is attainable by the person trying to achieve it,
- fits easily into the world of the person trying to achieve,
- has a deadline.
As I was explaining to my friend, you first want to determine your main objective, your goal. Once you decide what your objective is, you should use the SMART framework when you are writing your goals, and you should definitely be WRITING your goals!!
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Until next time, “Drink your water, people!” ~Tony Horton
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