SMART goals – commonly defined as specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound – have been used in the corporate world since the early 1980s. The concept has stood the test of time because it works.
Anyone can set goals without these criteria, but if goals aren’t clearly defined and geared toward your real objective, you’ll likely lose interest. Also, if you’re not sure they’re achievable and you have no way to measure progress, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and confusion along the way. SMART goals give you the tools to make sure you’re setting the right goals, making steady progress and reaching the desired outcome.
While SMART goals are typically used in personal development, project management and employee performance scenarios, this concept may be useful outside the corporate world. Now that we’ve entered a new year, why not set SMART goals to help you follow through with your resolutions?
Resolution to meet your resolutions
If you typically make New Year’s resolutions but seldom follow through, you’re not alone. It’s easy to start out enthusiastically, especially with common goals like getting in shape. Unfortunately, it’s also easy to get off track and lose your motivation. That’s where SMART goals come in.
Specific goals outline the details of what you’re trying to accomplish. To do this, you need to state your overall objective (e.g., get in shape in 2016) and answer a few key questions like who’s involved (e.g., you and your family), what you want to accomplish (e.g., lose 15 pounds by April 30th), why it’s important (e.g., feel better, look better), and where, how and when you’ll take action (e.g., work out at the gym and at home six days per week).
Make it measurable
Measuring progress is the only way to make sure you’re on track to meet your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose 15 pounds by April, how will you know if you’re on the right track if you don’t step on a scale? While it’s best to weigh yourself first thing in the morning, you can decide how many times per week you’ll weigh in, but make sure you stick to it and write it down.
Be sure it’s achievable and relevant
Goals geared toward your main objective must be achievable and relevant. For example, if your objective is to get in shape in 2016, setting a goal to become a world-class body builder in six months probably wouldn’t be achievable or relevant. However, the goal of losing 15 pounds by April fits both criteria.
Add a time frame
Committing to a deadline with milestones along the way will help keep you accountable for staying on track. If you start out thinking you have the whole year to accomplish your goal, you’ll be much more likely to procrastinate.
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