Are you looking for an easy and effective way to set goals? Apply the SMART model of goal setting to improve your chances of success.
Thought leaders in the creation of smart cities were impressed by the city’s “simple goals”, communications infrastructure and executive commitment. In the words of one respondent: “It showcases good examples of forward-think-ing infrastructure, smart transportation, smart buildings, smart underground. 'In Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams, Roger has done for leadership teams what The Skilled Facilitator did for facilitators-provides a practical and powerful framework for getting to the heart of tough challenges, getting unstuck, and getting the results they need. This book should become required reading for all leadership teams.'
Although a widely adopted format for setting and achieving goals, the SMART acronym is one of the most misinterpreted methods of goal setting theory available today. First, let’s describe what I believe is the most practical variation of the SMART model.
Download our Free Goal Setting Template PDF or check out our Free SMART Goal Setting Basics Course.
SMART Goals Acronym
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Achievable
- R – Relevant
- T – Time Stamped
Most variations will find consistency in the letters S, M, and T. However, letters A and R seem to be the most misunderstood. To state my case for why ‘achievable’ and ‘relevant’ are the best possible solutions, let’s walk through a real-life example and weave in the definition of each topic. By the end of this exercise, you should have a clear understanding of what SMART goal setting is and how to implement it in your daily life.
SMART Goals Example
To understand how to start setting SMART goals, I will use a very common use-case most of us can relate to; a SMART goal example for health.
Now, imagine you are a few pounds overweight and are looking to get healthy and fit going into the new year. This is a perfect situation for a first-timer to learn the SMART goal setting guideline because of the way in which I just laid out what I wanted to achieve.
The reason why is most people will rattle off a health goal just like I mentioned, “I’m looking to lose a few extra pounds I gained over the holidays”. Using language like this dramatically decreases your chance of success because of the lack of specificity (a few pounds), ability to measure (how would you know when you lost a few pounds?), and lack of a time frame or target date.
Remember, Your subconscious brain doesn’t follow vague direction. You will forget your unspecific goal as fast as it rolls off the tongue.
Let’s dive in…
SMART Goals Definition
When writing out goals and objectives, it’s important to be as specific as possible to tell your brain exactly where the target is. Instead of using a vague term like “a few pounds”, let’s replace it with a specific weight.
To understand where you currently are in relation to what you want, you need to break both your current situation and your goal down into a unit of measurement.
Now that you have a specific goal of achieving the weight of 140lbs, you can now easily hop on a scale to measure your progress and, most importantly, know when you accomplish the goal!
Many people I’ve worked with come to a coaching call with a very vague goal like the above mentioned. If your goal is vague, an easy question to ask yourself is, “how will I know when I achieve my goal?” By asking this question, your brain will search for a specific, and usually, measurable response to pair with your initially vague response.
Going back to understanding your current situation in forms of measurement, this is where you will start to understand if what you set forth is realistic.
Going back to the goal of 140lbs, you might want to look at a height and age chart, paired with a BMI calculator to accurately asses if your goal is achievable. For me, I’m a 6’2 male weighing in at 190 today. 140 is not an achievable goal for me.
Keep in mind, time plays a significant factor in making goals achievable. For example, you might be able to hit a 140lb mark, but you might need a certain amount of time to properly shed the pounds based on your current weight.
Goal relevancy is a topic I believe is hugely misinterpreted across the internet.
Most methods like to ask the question, ‘do you really want it’? Well, how do you know if you really want your goal? You just stated you want it; I guess that means you do… right?
Again, this subconscious brain does not know how to interpret vagueness and allowing any lack of clarity into your goal is self-sabotage. What I believe is critical here, is that you clearly understand what you are truly after. You must understand the reasoning behind your goal.
Usually, the sentence for understanding your purpose for the goal starts with, “to feel…”.
What I’m getting at here is you want to understand the emotions you are after. Anytime we set a goal, we are after a certain feeling. Said another way, we set goals because we no longer want to feel the same way we’ve consistently been feeling.
Putting relevancy into practice:
Now that you have the goal of reaching 140lbs, ask yourself, how would it make you feel by achieving this goal?
Is it an emotion your after? If it is, great! Add that emotion to your goal sentence.
If not, maybe this goal isn’t as relevant as you think.
Or maybe, you might want to start with a different question. Instead of asking yourself how you want to feel, sometimes it’s easier to start with the question, “How do you no longer want to feel?”
Most of us can accurately describe the feelings we are currently living in. For example, if you are looking to shed weight, maybe you are using words to describe yourself as feeling unhealthy, out of shape, or unattractive.
Chances are, you want the opposite of those feelings like, attractive or sexy!
Now, instead of trying to force yourself to hit the gym to achieve just a boring number like 140lbs, change your goal to ‘become attractive and sexy at 140lbs’ to give it emotional juice.
The real key to making your goals relevant is NOT to define a goal and see if it is relevant, it is to understand what feelings or emotions are missing or conflicted and align yourself with attaining it!
Have you ever felt like you are running a race with no finish line? Chances are, you are running patterns or taking action with no clear deadline or end-goal.
Making your goals time-based will help alleviate this empty feeling, it’ll also create a sense of urgency, which is key to influencing yourself to take consistent action.
To make your new health goal time-stamped, just add a date to it.
Old Goal: Become attractive and sexy at 140 lbs.
New Goal: Become attractive and sexy at 140 lbs by June 1st!
Do you see how transformative the SMART methodology can be if you put it in to practice the right way?
Smart Leaders Smarter Teams Summary
SMART Goals Template
We’ve created an incredibly simple, 3-step goal setting worksheet utilizing the SMART goals theory for you to download. The best part, it’s free!
Need additional help?
We’ve also paired the worksheet with a Free Goal Setting Basics Course where we take you through the goal-setting process, step-by-step, so you don’t have to try and figure it out on your own.
In summary, any time you are looking for specific, measurable results, the SMART goal setting method will set you up on the right path.