An Introduction to SMART Goals | What Are They and How to Use Them

We’ve all got goals, some big and some small. While goals may be as seemingly insignificant as finishing a cup of coffee the first time without having to microwave it, goals also might be as broad as growing a business. Whatever your goal is, think about it. How did you create this goal? What are your steps to achieve this goal? I know this can seem daunting at first, but there is a way that will allow you to create worthwhile goals, just the right amount of challenging, and that you can accomplish and set out to achieve! If you’ve never heard of SMART goals, you’ve come to the right place. If you have heard of these, you’re still in the right place. Let’s dive in!

What does SMART stand for?

When creating a goal and the ways you will achieve it, using this acronym can help you get started. The “S” stands for Specific, the “M” stands for Measurable, the “A” stands for Attainable, the “R” stands for Relevant, and the “T” stands for Time-bound. These are all things to consider when coming up with your goals and how to tackle them.

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image credit: IvoryMix

“S” is for Specific

Break down the goal. In this stage of SMART, you’ll ask yourself what exactly your goal is aiming to achieve. Come up with a list of specifics, including the exact things that to accomplish. It’s also important to recognize if others are needed to complete this goal as well as where it will take place. You can also ask yourself the “why” question of why you want to accomplish this in the first place.

Example: I want to grow my small business by taking on two new clients per month so that I can have a fuller workload and pay my rent. Doing this will involve me, my assistant, and future clients.

“M” is for Measurable

How will you know if you complete the goal? It’s essential that you come up with a way to measure your success and where you stand in your journey to achieve your goal. You will need to recognize what your future action steps are, how much more needs to change to reach it, and how you will measure success.

Example: I will know I succeeded when I have two new clients per month. To get here, I will need to set up checkpoints with myself each week to see if I made any progress. I may only be halfway there, but I know the next two weeks I am capable of completing the goal.

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image credit: IvoryMix

“A” is for Attainable

It is finding the balance between what is challenging and do-able. You will want your goal to be right in the middle of the “This is too easy” and “This is too hard” mindsets. Just like Goldilocks, find the goal that is just right. Try to avoid jumping to extremes, but also avoid going too easy on yourself. It’s important to challenge yourself positively. Think about the resources you have or will need to achieve the goal, if it is of reasonable difficulty, and if it is something you will be able to complete.

Example: If I were to aim for ten new clients per month, I know it would be impossible because I don’t have the time to do that. If my goal were to get one new client per month, it would be too easy. Landing on two allows me to focus on my goal, and I can always edit my goal moving forward. If I focus my time on reaching out to new clients, I can reach this goal.

“R” is for Relevant

Is this really what I should be aiming to do right now? Your goals should come into play at the right time. If you’re still in school, don’t make your goal something that isn’t relevant to your next steps. Make sure your goal is something meaningful to you as well, as it will make it difficult to work towards a goal that you are just doing to impress others or because you feel like you “should” do it. We’ve all been there! You have to recognize whether or not you are willing to do what it takes to complete the goal.

Example: This goal of two new clients is something I want to commit to achieving. Others told me to just wait and let new clients come to me, but it is meaningful for me to put myself out there, and I am committed to achieving this goal.

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image credit: IvoryMix

“T” is for Time-bound

There’s never a perfect time – but it does matter! Set deadlines for reaching this goal, or set up milestones along the way. Outline exactly when you will reach certain milestones, and come up with a plan (if you need ideas, check out my planning section here). There should always be a time frame; otherwise, it will be hard to stay motivated to get things done. Think in baby steps: what to do today, in a week, in a month, and beyond!

Example: My goal for two new clients a month needs to be reached by the end of six months. Then, I can calculate exactly how much more work I am able to take on and see if I need to change my goal. Today, I can start by reaching out to potential clients.

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In Summary…You’ve Got This!

No matter what your goals are, I hope you were able to use this introduction to SMART goals to help you see just where this method of goal creating can take you. I’d love to hear from you about your methods of using SMART goals, and if you have any tips or tricks to share.

As always, thanks for reading!

This post was written and researched by Caroline Johnson of Line Writing Co. Editing and formatting done by Elizabeth of Jihi Elephant

How to Create Effective Goals | Includes Free Worksheet

With every new year comes new goals and hopes to achieve these goals. Unfortunately, many of us create goals that never get completed. Why is this? One reason you might not achieve your goals is that the way you wrote it is too vague, not realistic, or has no deadline. This post is all about how to write effective goals that you can achieve. This post may contain affiliate links.

Learn how to write Long-Term Goals HERE or Learn more about SMART Goals HERE.

How to Create Effective Goals

Define Your Goal

The first thing you need to do when writing effective goals is to define the goal. What do you want to achieve? This is the easy part—getting your idea written down. However, there is more to a goal than just writing it down. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, time-sensitive, achievable, and realistic.

Make Your Goals Specific

An effective goal is a specific goal. If you do not clearly define your goal using measurable terms, you will be less inclined to complete it. Your goal needs to be so specific that it might involve smaller more specific goals to achieve the overarching goal. Read more specifically about these smaller step ladder goals here.

Make it Measurable

An effective goal needs to be measurable. This means that you need to define how you will measure your goal. Are you measuring your goal by smaller tasks or deadlines within your large goal, are you measure with time or an amount? No matter how you choose to measure your goal, measure it.

How to Create Effective Goals

Set A Realistic Deadline

If your goal does not have a due date, you will feel no pressure to complete it. How can a goal be effective if you are not motivated to complete it by a specific time? Make sure this deadline is realistic and that you have used the specifics and measurements define above to create your deadline. Having a realistic deadline can make a goal that might otherwise not be effective.

How to Create an Effective Goal

Is Your Goal Achievable and Realistic?

How likely is it that you can reach your goal by the dates you have set for yourself? To determine achievability, you must be honest with yourself. It’s common that our expectations are unrealistic, thus, making them unachievable. We get excited and don’t think about how our goal will fit into daily life. It’s often the issue that we set a date that is too soon so that we feel overwhelmed. It’s also common that we set dates that are too far away and we put off achieving our goal, leaving it to the last minute.

Effective goals written in this format are commonly known as SMART goals. They are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. Follow this format, and you are sure to have an effective goal!

Now that you know how to write an effective goal, sit down with a pen and paper, and create your goal!

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