How to Set SMART Goals for Your Life
Have you ever said that there was something that you wanted to do, something that you wanted to have, or somewhere you wanted to go but never saw anything come of it? It’s nice to have dreams. To envision yourself in a better place, doing better things, or just being better, is wonderful.
Our dreams help us lay the foundation for where we want to go. However, if you never take the time to create a plan of action around your dreams, you aren’t setting goals, and goals are what you need if you want to turn your dreams into reality.
In creating goals you can’t make general statements like “I want to lose weight this year.” or “I want to have more money in the bank.” You have to think about how much weight you want to lose, by when, and how are you going to do it?
It’s the same process no matter what you want to achieve. As in the case of financial goals, you have to know how much money you want to have, by when, and how are you going to earn it. You must make certain that the goals you set are SMART.
Here is the formula for setting SMART goals:
Direction of change + area of change +target population + degree of change + time frame.
SMART Goal Example:
My goal is to lose 50 pounds in 6 months.
- Direction of change = down (lose)
- Area of change = weight
- Target population = yourself
- Degree of change = 50 pounds
- Timeframe = 6 months
This is the same formula you might be used to seeing at work. For example, an organization that works with kids might say that their goal is to reduce the unemployment status of graduating students so that 75% are employed within six months of graduation.
In this case, you have:
- Direction of change =reduce
- Area of change = unemployment status
- Target population = graduating students
- Degree of change = 75% fully employed
- Timeframe = 6 months of graduation
Let’s look at that weight loss goal in more detail.
- Is it Specific? Yes, you know exactly what you want to do. Lose weight.
- Is it Measurable? Yes. You can track your progress week by week by stepping on the scale and weighing yourself.
- Is it Attainable? Provided you are just a regular person with no extreme health limitations, yes. You have six months to lose 50 pounds. That’s a little over 8 pounds a month. That’s a reasonable goal, especially since people usually lose a great deal of weight at the beginning of a new diet or workout routine, and 2 pounds a week is considered a healthy objective for weight loss.
- Is it Relevant? Yes. If losing weight is important to use for aesthetic of health reasons, then it is a relevant goal for your life.
- Is it Time-Bound? Yes. You have set a 6-month target date.
After determining that your goal is SMART, you have to say to yourself, “How am I going to make it happen.” Keeping with our example of the weight loss goal, you will have to lay out a fitness routine and a diet plan.
No matter what goal you are trying to achieve, you will have to determine what your objectives are, what activities you will engage in to help you meet those objectives. You will also have to determine what outcomes you expect to measure alongside those activities as you move towards your target date. (See my post “How to Make a Plan to Achieve Your Goals” for more information.)
The bottom line is that setting goals and achieving them is a process and you have to put in the work. It’s vital to remember that just because it’s a personal goal you’re setting doesn’t change the process.
To be successful in achieving your personal goals it’s just as important to make a plan as it is with your business goals. If you want to see results from the things you do, be sure you are setting SMART goals and stick to the plan.