For many years, I wasn’t much of a goal setter or a New Years Resolution type person. It seemed, at the time, that most people who set those intentions would break them fairly soon, so I figured why bother? That changed a few years ago after I heard about setting SMART goals.
Setting SMART goals is not easy. Sometimes it can feel like my dreams and aspirations are insurmountable. This can make that first step to goal setting all the more intimidating. If you can relate to these feelings, SMART goal setting is a great solution for you. I am going to take you step by step on how to set SMART goals.
Setting SMART Goals
My Goal Setting Story
Each moment is fleeting and I can struggle with overwhelm and lack of direction. Well I’m happy to report that’s slowly been changing over the past few years as I have started to set SMART 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. A goal should include purpose, intent and a clear path on how to meet the goal. I’ve made changes over the years so now when I set a goal it includes the SMART elements and sets me up for success.
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Why Should You Set Goals?
Goals are important in laying the path and direction for your success, in addition to self-growth and improvement. It wasn’t until I listed to a 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.
Goals Versus Resolutions
Another main difference to point is is between goals and resolutions. It seems, in my experience, resolutions are usually broken – sometimes quickly. In fact, one study found that one third of resolution makers already gave up by Valentine’s Day.
Goals, however, 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.
The Key to My Goal Setting Success
When I first began setting SMART goals I wasn’t sure how to organize them. Three years ago I started using a paper planner again after a hiatus for many years. Documenting my life on paper has been game changing for accomplishing what I need and want to do.
My planner even includes some handy goal-setting worksheets in it, so I can keep my goals top of mind all year. The planner I use is the Day Designer Flagship daily planner. It’s a daily planner so there is one page per day of the year. Another popular planner for goal setters is the Best Self planner because it divides the year into easily manageable quarters.
Goal Setting Categories
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 as pointed out in the Dave Ramsey goal setting.
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.
Setting SMART Goals Examples
How My Goal Setting Has Changed
After this revelation, I changed how I 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.
Setting Goals SMART Acronym
Components of a SMART Goal
Shortly after hearing that Dave Ramsey smart goals 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, going back to my planner recommendation) 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.
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.
Each goal you write should be SMART containing these elements:
Setting Smart Goals
Setting SMART goals is 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 week, or this month, is a great time to work on your goals. Don’t rush your goals. Setting SMART goals takes time and self-reflection. Spend some time alone, in the quiet, scribble and write down any ideas or aspirations that come to mind.
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, write them in my planner, or put them as the background image on my computer.
Do you set goals or resolutions?
*This post was originally published in 2013 and has been updated and republished for accuracy and comprehensiveness.