How to Set and Achieve S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Setting and achieving goals is not easy. Setting SMART goals is even more challenging. But the satisfaction is great when goals are achieved. The best way to achieve your goals is to set SMART and SMARTER goals.
Let start with what is not a goal:
- You wish you had more money.
- You want to lose some weight.
- You wish your spouse would treat you better.
- You wish your kids got better grades in school.
Now let’s look at what a SMART goal is.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Action-Based
R – Realistic
T – Timely
Jack Canfield (author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books) likes to tell the story where in one of his workshops he talks about goals. Invariably someone says they want to have more money. Jack responds, “If I give you a dollar you will have more money. Will you be satisfied?” Of course the answer is NO. So the first step to setting a SMART goal is to specify a precise amount. For example you may want a goal of having $2,400 in a savings account by July 1st, in order to go on a vacation with your family. This goal is specific (S); it is measurable (M) because you can look at the bank balance on July 1st to see if you met your goal; and it has an end date. It is timely (T).
To add Action-Based (A) to your goal you can specify that you will make a deposit $600 on the 15th of the month for the next four months (March through June) into your savings account.
Now the question is whether or not this action based goal is realistic (R). How can you save money on your current expenditures to free up $600 for the next four months? If you normally spend your entire paycheck, this may not be realistic. If on the other hand you usually have some money left over at the end of the month, you may be able to do with a little belt tightening and make your vacation a reality.
Maybe you can only save $200 per month. That means you will have $800 by July 1st. Maybe that’s enough for a vacation over a long weekend. After that you can save for an entire year ($200 x 12 = $2400) and go on your trip next year.
So here is what that SMART goal looks like:
I will put $200 per month into a savings account from July 15 of this year until June of next year to save $2400 and take my family on a vacation.
Now there is one more step you can take. How about a SMARTER goal? The E and R stand for
E – Enjoyable
R – Review
Your goal is already (E) enjoyable since the planned family vacation is a trip you are looking forward to.
Lastly, often when you have a goal there is something along the way that can derail your best intentions. For example you may have an unexpected expense. Maybe shortly after you start on your goal your washing machine breaks and a replacement costs $400. You have some choices you have to make. You can abandon your goal because it is just too hard. You can defer buying a new washing machine for a year and use a Laundromat. You can replace the washing machine and not put the $200 aside for 2 months. Then you cut out more expenses and make more sacrifices and save $240 per months for the next ten months, so you can go on your vacation as planned. Maybe you can do something to earn a little extra money. Reviewing (R) your goal monthly is an important step to achieving your goal.
Example of a SMARTER goal in action
A number of years ago I decided that I wanted to earn money from my photography. I bought my first semi-professional camera in January. There was a lot to learn about that camera. By mid-year I had sold my first photo to a newspaper for $50. I was then offered a position as a freelance photographer for that newspaper and had several assignments that year. My first goal was to earn $2,000 the next year from my photography. I thought that would be an easy goal to achieve. Meanwhile I was still learning how to use my first professional camera I had purchased. By mid-year I had earned about $500 from occasional newspaper assignments. It was time to review (R) my goal. I recommitted to my goal of earning $2,000 that year. First, I asked for more assignments from the newspaper I was already working for. When that wasn’t possible, I approached other newspapers and even started to learn about wedding photography. By the end of the year, I had made and even exceeded my goal.
If you have never set a SMART or SMARTER goal, start small. Choose a goal that you think you can easily achieve. The important thing is just to start practicing setting and achieving goals. Make sure the goal statement fulfills all the letters in SMARTER.
To determine if coaching can help you achieve your goals, schedule a complimentary coaching consultation. During this coaching consultation you will experience coaching and at the end of the call, if it is a good fit, you will be given the opportunity to continue the coaching relationship. Call Edith at 847.913.3900 now to schedule your first session.