It’s February. Remember just a little while ago, on January 1st, when you made all those plans for the year? How’s that going?
Yeah, the struggle is real. Setting goals for yourself is easy, BUT keeping the goals that you set, and actually accomplishing them… Ugh. Oh – man. That’s tough.
I set mental wish lists all the time like “I’d love to buy the legit Photoshop program someday” or “I’m going to take that web design course sometime in the next few months”. Don’t let me confuse you though. These are just wishes and not true goals. How often are you setting yourself up for failure like this though? How often are you setting what you think are goals by saying “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months” and then look back 6 months later at your zero progress?
What’s going on here? Well, I hate to get real. I mean it, really I do. But, if you knew exactly what was going on with your terrible goal setting, you wouldn’t be making these kinds of “goals”. A goal should be set with the state of mind that you are being specific, measuring your progress, able to attain it, that it’s relevant and realistic, and you have the time to accomplish it. These are called S.M.A.R.T. goals and this is one of the best ways you can set goals that you can actually accomplish.
S = Specific. M = Measurable. A = Attainable. R = Relevant/Realistic. T = Timely.
Aren’t I setting specific goals?
If your goal is something like “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months” then you might be shocked to learn that this is not specific enough to qualify as a smart goal. In order to qualify as being specific enough, it must explain the result you intend to achieve, the time frame, and the actionable steps.
1. Specific Goals
An example of a better and more specific S.M.A.R.T. goal would be: “I will lose 20 pounds in the next 6 months by going to the gym 6 days a week and counting my calories.” This is a perfect goal because you know:
1) Exactly what you need to accomplish.
2) How long it will take you to accomplish it.
3) The steps to take so you can accomplish it.
In order to make certain your goals have all three of these key elements, you may need to do some research. If you’ve never lost 20 pounds before, then you might not know how long it will take you or how to burn enough calories, or how not to sabotage yourself by eating girl scout cookies after 7pm. 🙂 In cases like this, when you’re not sure if your goal is “smart” or not, I strongly suggest engaging an expert and asking questions of people who have already done what you want. Part of being smart with your goals is doing the proper homework and then setting the goal. What if you wanted to make a million dollars this year by selling real estate, but you’ve never been a real estate agent before? If you want to make a million dollars or lose 20 lbs, but are too far away from making a “smart” goal, then you may need to set smaller goals first, like “I will learn within the next 30 days how to lose 1 pound a week by hiring a personal trainer” or “In 90 days, I will take the Real Estate Liscense exam by enrolling in the local Real Estate Course”. Now THESE are specific and smaller first steps that get you closer to your ULTIMATE goal.
2. Measureable Goals
Now that you’ve established how to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal, it should be fairly understandable why you would want to measure your goals. Let’s say that ” I want to increase my website traffic by 1000 readers every month by engaging in a new form of lead generation every month.”
This is a goal I can measure by simply tracking each month and comparing the number of readers every month. If your goal isn’t measurable, then that’s probably one reason why you haven’t accomplished it yet. So, make sure you only make goals that you can track and measure to confirm that you are indeed making progress!
3. Attainable Goals
Remember that hypothetical goal above about losing 20 pounds in 6 months? What if I had said that I want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks – that’s not exactly attainable if I don’t plan on starving myself or walking/running 20 miles a day. It’s important to make goals that make sense and aren’t impossible. Don’t get unnecessarily discouraged by goals you’re not accomplishing because you’ve set the stakes too high.
Four years ago, shortly after my youngest daughter was born, I was asked to be a brides maid in my brother’s wedding. If any time was a bad time to need the pressure of fitting into a brides maid dress, it was then! I had a year to get down to my pre-baby weight, which I felt was plenty of time and I easily made it there. As the day got closer though, I started to set unrealistic goals for myself by wanting to get even smaller than “pre-baby” weight. This was not attainable for me. I had never been smaller than my natural weight for longer than a few weeks and its really difficult for me to stay there without being really uncomfortable and starving all the time. Needless to say, I never made it to the “goal” size or weight because it just was not attainable and it wasn’t fair to my body. It had been through enough!
4. Relevant and Realistic Goals
Similar to attainable goals, relevant and realistic goals are ones that can be easily reached. Don’t set goals that don’t fit you, your schedule, or your lifestyle. Remember the example I gave of the person who knew nothing about real estate but who wanted to make a million dollars by selling real estate? Not exactly relevant or realistic, is it?
Do you have an interest in starting a blog and business and making a living from it? If you have never blogged or owned a business a day in your life, it would be pretty unrealistic to set a goal that you’ll quit your day job in the next few months. Don’t set unrealistic goals. Be a sponge and learn everything there is to know about your goal and start there. This will be a good way for you to make an educated and smart goal, instead of an unrealistic and irrelevant one.
5. Timely Goals
Giving your goal a timeframe puts a clock or a timer to your goal. This should create a sense of urgency within you and also help in measuring your goal too. Telling yourself that you will lose 20 pounds but not putting a time frame to it is like rowing to the middle of a lake and dropping your paddle in and letting it sink. You can see the shore but your boat isn’t moving because you’ve lost your momentum and don’t have a key tool to regain it. Give yourself a time frame and set your pace! People forget too often that having a schedule and timing yourself is a key tool to successfully achieving goals.
It’s difficult to make goals and keep them. Particularly when they are difficult or challenging goals that take a lot of effort. In the event that your goal seems really difficult, you may want to consider that it might not be attainable – right now. So, make smaller goals that feel like baby steps toward the bigger goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself all at once, just to feel frustrated an give up. Start small, and make sure you measure your progress, keep it realistic and attainable, and hold yourself to a time-line. By making smaller more attainable goals, and having the right steps and tools in place, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot set goals and keep them!
Now that you know exactly what to do, download the free printable to track all of your goals and make sure they are S.M.A.R.T. ones. Need a way to track smaller daily goals? For massively detailed goals and daily plans, get yourself the printable daily planner here.
So, tell me – what are your goals? How will you achieve them, and how can I help!?