Why are SMART goals more useful than that list of vague intentions you set every New Year’s Eve – and forget about by February? (Seriously, why are New Year’s resolutions still a thing?)
Well, SMART goals help you (1) clarify what you really want, (2) figure out how to get it, and (3) push you to actively pursue your goals, instead of waiting around for them to happen to you. And yeah, yeah, I hate acronyms, too. But the SMART goal-setting method works so well, I’ll suck it up (for now) and share. Without further ado –
SMART goals are:
- Relevant +
Now, let’s dive a little deeper to get a better idea of what SMART goals look like in practice!
SMART Goals Are Specific
Ask yourself, what do you want? Make it so clear that a complete stranger would understand. It might help to start out by imagining what you want in the grand scheme of things – big picture kind of stuff – and then narrowing your focus.
Bad Goal: I’m going to eat healthier.
Better Goal: I’m going to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. (Btw, check out these ideas to help you get more fruits + veggies every day if this is one of your irl goals.)
SMART Goals Are Measurable
How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? Think like a scientist. Subjective outcomes, like your happiness, aren’t terribly easy to measure. You’re aiming for an observable, objective measure – like the number of steps you take each day, or the amount of money you spend each month.
Bad Goal: I’m going to stop drinking so much.
Better Goal: I’m going to cut back my alcohol intake to 5 drinks per week.
SMART Goals Are Attainable
Can you realistically achieve this goal? Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make sure you’re setting a goal that you’re (a) willing to put in the work to achieve and (b) capable of achieving, given your current abilities, knowledge, and circumstances.
Bad Goal: I’m going to run a marathon next week and finish in first place!
Better Goal: I’m going to run a 5K next month and finish in 25 minutes or less.
SMART Goals Are Relevant
Is this goal relevant to what you really want – or need – in your life? Maybe you want to improve your physical health, so you decide to lose 10 pounds. Now you need to decide whether losing weight is actually going to help you achieve your big picture goal – to get healthier. Maybe it is, or maybe you would benefit more from exercising more often or meditating daily instead. Given what you know, decide if your goal is a good fit for you.
Bad Goal: I’m going to do a week-long juice cleanse to get healthier.
Better Goal: I’m going to drink 8 glasses of water each day and eat a serving of fruits or veggies with every meal.
SMART Goals Are Timely
When will you achieve your goal by? Be specific. Most of us wouldn’t get anything done without a deadline looming over us. Don’t fight it (it’s human nature) – just embrace it.
Bad Goal: I’m going to research medical schools to apply to.
Better Goal: By 7 PM this Friday, I’m going to create a list of 5 medical programs to apply to.
Why Set Goals?
People who set goals are 10x more successful than people who don’t (go, you!) Even better? Writing your goals down bumps that rate of success up even more. So, I know the whole acronym thing is kinda cheesy, but think you can get past the cheese factor to get what you want? (That’s what I thought.)