Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely, Reward
So what are SMART & SMART/R Goals?
SMART goals are a mnemonic acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. They were invented by George T Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in 1981 and published in their article:
S.M.A.R.T.R was a revision made later adding the extra metric of REWARD to the system.
The SMART & R strategy can be broken down into :
Goals play an interesting role in our life, important to both our business and personal life, and linked to our motivation, focus, and development. Most important perhaps is the influence they have on our sense of purpose.
SMART goals are perhaps the most well-adopted model of goal setting around and there is a lot to be learned from their application by millions of successful individuals over the years, we will be going through each part step by step, and once you’ve mastered it:
Make your SMART goals Specific
When you’re setting a SMART goal, one of the most determining factors in its eventual success or failure is your ability to define that goal. It doesn’t matter if it is a personal goal or a business goal, if it’s not specific, it’s simply not going to be the type of goal that you’re likely to achieve.
This is not to say that goals cannot be complex, or contain multiple milestones along the journey, just that clearly defining it from the start, will put you miles ahead of anyone that is wandering around unsure of which direction they should take.
When setting S.M.A.R.T goals, your first step is to ask yourself:
Making something specific means being able to provide concrete answers whenever somebody asks you about it. As an example, instead of simply saying “I want to get into shape“, a more specific way of defining your goal would be to pick a specific weight.
This is not to say that not hitting your target is always a failure, goals change and so do circumstances, however, it does give you something specific to work towards, which will help you make a lot more progress on your journey to completing it.
As you get better at applying the rest of the mnemonics that make up SMART goals, you will become better at creating realistic and attainable goals that are designed to help you move forward.
Smart goals are always measurable
The second part of a SMART goal is there to remind you that it has to be measurable. What gets measured, gets managed, borrowing from the first section, without a specific way to determine success and failure, we have no way to track our progress.
To make it measurable, consider asking yourself:
Your goal needs to be trackable or you will have no way of knowing how much progress you’ve made or how much of the journey you have left.
Are my SMART Goals attainable?
A SMART goal must be possible and achievable. Without realism as a standard, you will never get the satisfaction of actually hitting what you’re aiming for! Your goals should always be just outside of your comfort zone, but never so far that you can’t achieve them.
Before setting your next goal, ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal?
- If not, what am I missing?
- Can I find create these resources or find them from a third party?
- Have others been successful at this before?
- Have I set a realistic time horizon, that will allow me to achieve this?
Usually, the thing that you’ll be trying to achieve has been done before, so one of the easiest ways to not only know if something can be done but also to find out how to do it is to do a bit of research and find somebody that has solved the same problem before.
Make your SMART goals realistic too!
If a goal cannot be attained, then it’s not a SMART goal, just a dream. Dreams are a wonderful thing, but the act of goal setting is structured specifically to turn them into reality.
To help make your goals more achievable, ask yourself:
By making your goals realistic you dramatically increase the chance of accomplishing them. All the tips and tricks are useless if you were aiming for something impossible in the first place.
SMART goals also teach us how to take a goal that seems impossible and break it down into a series of smaller goals that turn the initially impossible into something quite achievable!
By scaling your goals correctly, you will find yourself well on your way to achieving them!
SMART goals must have a decent Time horizon
An effective time horizon keeps goals realistic and practical. Everyone has busy schedules, and only so much that they can work into their day, using SMART goals to make your goals timely will also make them more attainable!
Questions to ask:
By creating timely goals you will ensure that you are able to better manage the entire process. It will allow you to set milestones and track progress. This is an invaluable tool for those of us out to succeed in life!
Add a reward and make your SMART goals SMART/R
Bare in mind that the rewards should be positive in nature and add benefit to your life, it does not help if you’re trying to clean up your lifestyle but rewards yourself with a donut after every workout.
When deciding on your rewards consider :
We could consider adding a healthy treat after a long workout or hitting our weekly goals for weight loss. It’s all about keeping yourself motivated and building the habit of success. The addition of a reward structure makes it much more likely that you will keep up with your routine!
The 5 Specific W’s of SMART goals
The 5 W’s are not part of the SMART model, however, they are such a great tool, that we included them as an extra to every one of the goal-setting models we cover on Things Learned After Thirty. By using them as a checklist to qualify your goals for the SMART model, you will be able to get twice the results, with half the effort.
The 5 W’s of goals setting are:
Instead of saying “I want to lose weight“, rather set the goal of cleaning up your diet and cutting out specific unhealthy foods while implementing a weekly walking routine. The first creates a vague outline, while the second provides a specific solution.
The Importance of SMART Goal Setting
A goal without metrics to measure it by is simply a dream and dreams rarely come true. On the other hand, hard work and proper planning pay off all the time! Don’t set yourself up for failure before even starting as many people do!
Make sure that every goal you set is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely, also be sure to add a Reward for yourself for achieving them, though in most cases achieving your goals is actually the best reward there is.
So be SMART about it, and good luck!
If you are looking for great examples of the type of goals to set, then check out our article on the 13 different types of goals, and be sure to visit our library, where you will find some good and relevant recommended reads to help with building a great life, filled with worthwhile goals!
Our favorite goal-setting techniques:
Be sure to also check out our main series on goal-setting:
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