The phrase SMART goals has been around since the 80s. It stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. The ER on the end came more recently and they stand for stands for evaluate and review. I want to share the basics of what SMARTER goals and focus on setting SMART or SMARTER goals.
These are just SMARTER goals basics. I have a full podcast coming out next month on in-depth goals setting. What I want to do is just lay out a simple framework for setting smarter goals.
For years, we all set goals that were like “I want to lose 20 lbs” or “I want to do this kind of job.” While that says specifically what you want to do, it’s not specific enough. Specific is “I will weigh 220 lb by September 3rd.” Or “I will start a photography business by March 31st.” Those are very specific goals.
So how do you measure it? If you’re losing weight, then you measure it by weight loss or by calorie intake. If you’re starting a business, like photography, then you will need to come up with step-by-step instructions for yourself to start your photography business. This way, you can track what you’re doing each day or week, moving you toward starting your business.
A – actionable
Actionable is the verb part of the equation. Things like Run, Write, Weigh, Walk, Go To, Finish, Develop are all action words. It’s where are you are putting yourself in the driver’s seat. I weigh X lbs, I will attend a class on starting a business, I do x amount of push-ups every morning.
R – realistic
Look, I get it. We’ve heard the stories that Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy and other leaders tell of the cook at McDonald’s. She goes to the goal-setting seminar and decides to make $1,000,000 next year and you know what? She made a million dollars. All because she set her mind on it. While I’m sure there is someone that this has happened to, because I don’t think these men are liars, being realistic about your next 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and beyond is more important than setting some ridiculous goal to make some absurd amount of money over the next 12 months. We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long-term. Setting a realistic goal will help you stay on track when you develop a habit for your life.
This is probably the simplest part. Where’s your Finish Line? One month 3 months 1 year 5 years yes we need long-term goals too. Knowing what your finish line is, gives you a place to shoot the dart at.
E–evaluated and R—reviewed
Evaluated and reviewed, go hand-in-hand. You need to review your goals everyday so they are fresh in your mind. So you know what you’re shooting for and where you want to be and how close or how far away you are from your goal. Evaluating your goals will allow you to understand if this is really your goal. Do I really want to do this now that I’ve set down on this road? Am I willing to pay the price? Because there is always a price to pay. Review your goals daily and evaluate them at least monthly depending on how far out and how big they actually are.
And I want to say this as well. It’s okay to change a goal or to even stop going towards a goal. Had I learned this lesson ten years ago, it would have saved me a lot of headaches, but I want you to learn it now. You need to do what’s right for you and evaluating your goals regularly will allow you to do that.
But, and that’s a big but… Most of us, me included, have a hard time going from I’m going to set this goal to accomplishing the goal. That’s why making your goals into habits is essential. That is why being realistic and measurable is important. Remember, we overestimate what we can do in the short term, and underestimate what we can do in the long term.
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