There is a difference between “Goals” and “Smart Goals”. It’s that time of year when everyone sets new goals for the new year. Most people think of January 1 as a clean slate. It’s a day to make changes toward what we want in life. Often, we make such grandiose plans that we’re unable to carry them through. Our expectations are unrealistic. When we forget the resolutions we so carefully crafted, it’s easy to get discouraged and not make any changes at all in your life. This year, take a different approach to the resolutions you set for 2017.
How to Make Smart Goals for Yourself
Businesses have a lot of experience in setting goals. We can look to how businesses approach goal-setting to learn how to better set goals for our personal lives. SMART is an acronym that outlines a basic plan for developing goals that lead to success.
- Specific – Your goals should be well defined.
- Measurable – You should have a way to know when the goal is reached.
- Attainable – The goal should be achievable.
- Relevant – The goal should pertain to your overall goals.
- Time-based – You should have a time frame to meet the goal.
Goals vs Smart Goals
Here’s an example of what a lot of people say: “I want to get healthier next year.” Although this is a good notion, it’s not exactly a SMART goal, because it’s very general in nature. How can this idea be changed into a smarter goal that can be reached? First, what aspect of getting healthy do you want to accomplish? Specifically, “I want to eat healthier.” Now, we need to add a number to our goal to make it measurable. “I want to pack my lunch four days a week instead of choosing fast food.”
While this goal sounds attainable, you should check it against your calendar. Are you traveling two or three days a week? Maybe you don’t have a way to keep your lunch at safe temperatures. If you have to take kids to soccer, boy scouts and dance every night, it might be difficult to pack a lunch for yourself every morning. Can you manage this goal based on your current lifestyle? Maybe you should start by saying “In January, I plan to pack a healthy lunch two days a week and make healthier choices when I do go out for lunch,” or “I will replace chips and cookies in my diet with fruit and yogurt.”
The relevancy of the goal is fairly obvious. If you want to get healthy, then eating healthier is probably important to you. But you have to look at where you are in life right now. If you’re being pressured into setting a goal that doesn’t mean anything for you, it’s time to go back and set a better goal. To make a goal more relevant, you might want to attach it to another goal. If you want to lose weight, then making healthier food choices would mean even more to you.
You Can Reach Your Goals
With a time-bound goal, you have an endpoint. With our goal above, the endpoint would be January. One month of eating healthier is much more doable than just getting healthy. At the endpoint, you can then examine the goal and the outcomes to decide if you want to try again next month or if you need to adapt the goal to make it “smarter.” Instead of setting one big goal that you never reach, set smaller goals that are reasonable. When you make your goals reasonable and attainable, you’re more likely to carry through.
Göran Persson, former Prime Minister of Sweden, once said, “Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” Let the new year serve as a catalyst for change, but make your resolutions realistic.