I wasn’t much of a goal-setter or a New Years Resolution person. It seemed, at the time, that most people who set those intentions would break them fairly soon, so why bother? That changed a few years ago after I heard about setting SMART goals.
Setting SMART goals is not easy. Often I feel like my dreams and aspirations are insurmountable. Each moment is fleeting and I struggle with panic and lack of direction. Well I’m happy to report that’s slowly been changing over the past few years.
Setting SMART Goals
Why Set Goals?
When I first started setting goals they didn’t contain the elements a real goal needs. You can read some of my old goals here and here. A goal should include purpose, intent and a clear path on how I’ll meet the goal. Goals are important in setting the path and direction for our success, self-growth and improvement.
It wasn’t until I listed to (an older) podcast on goal setting that it really all began to click. It was an episode of the EntreLeadership podcast featuring a talk by Dave Ramsey. That podcast prompted me to think more about setting goals in a way to in return set myself up for success.
Another main difference to point is is between goals and resolutions. It seems, in my experience, resolutions are usually broken – sometimes quickly! Goals are realistic and reviewed periodically throughout the year. They can be modified or altered, but the intention is to make them attainable.
Resolutions are sort of like promises. They put a lot of pressure on yourself and sometimes others. They set us up for failure and feelings of disappointment and inadequacy. Who wants that? Not me! Goals make me feel like I can accomplish something. They are fierce. Give goals a try.
Areas to Set Goals In
If you want to listen to the podcast it was from 2011 but the title was “Start with a Dream & End With a Goal.” In the podcast, Dave Ramsey mentioned that goals should be set in several key areas of life. Prior to hearing this, many of my goals were heavy-focused on fitness. I was completely ignoring other areas of my life. The areas you should set goals in are:
If a goal is not set in any of these areas, one’s life can easily become imbalanced. It’s totally true. I have a tendency to focus heavily on one thing at a time. If it’s career, as an example, before I know it my physical and family goals are out the window. Not good.
How My Goal Setting Has Changed
After this revelation, I changed how set goals so they would encompass all areas of my life. The process isn’t perfect but I’m striving for improvement each year. I’ve always thought the first step toward change is recognizing a change is actually needed. I’m so happy to have recognized this and I’m excited to formulate goals for myself in each of these areas.
In the past my goals were usually mentioned on this blog around the first of the year. I would set goals that were mostly fitness-based. I realize now this was imbalanced. Frankly, I lost track of the goals throughout the year or just didn’t care as much later in the year as I did at the beginning.
Lately I’ve been realizing a goal needs to surpass an item on your “to do” list. A few years ago I was thinking about trying organic gardening. That was something I could do. But a goal was to receive Master Gardener Certification – which I did! Receiving the credential required I perform specific steps including coursework, volunteer hours and a time commitment.
Components of a SMART Goal
Shortly after hearing that Dave Ramsey talk on goal setting, I delved further into the goal-setting process through a seminar at my workplace at the time. We learned about setting SMART goals. This was the second breakthrough in my goal-setting progress.
Each goal you write (yes you write your goals down!) should include five main components which you can easily remember using the word SMART. It might take time to flesh out each component but it will help make your goals more robust and attainable. Each goal you write should be SMART:
At the time I went to the seminar simply because I had to attend in order to set work-related goals. Today I realize the information that was shared and I took notes on is actually helpful. I can apply this information to my own personal goal-setting.
It’s that simple. I’m still finalizing my goals for this year. I’ll be completely honest, I’m not even sure what my goals are going to be yet. It’s OK though, you don’t have to have goals ready on January 1. This week or next is a great time to work on your goals.
Don’t rush your goals. Setting SMART goals takes time and self-reflection. Remember to make sure you set goals in all areas of life and write down each goal. Later once your goals are finalized, something I like to do is to print them out on paper or put them as the background on my computer.
Do you set goals? Are they all-encompassing for your life?
*This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.