By the end of the year we naturally start to reflect on the past year and set goals for what we want to achieve in the coming year. New Years resolutions go hand in hand with your glass of bubble that you cheer the New Year in with. Unfortunately most resolutions are given up by the second week of January. I am sharing with you the widely used SMART principle for setting goals that we can easily achieve. I use this myself as well as with clients on a daily basis. It is a method frequently used within businesses and by entrepreneurs. Now you can use it too!
SMART stands for – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. Applying this principles allow for your goals to become more obtainable. Lets break these components down ho help you set a goal that you can stick to.
Simply this means is that the goal cannot be vague or generalised We want to think about the 5 W’s:
Who: does the goal involve just yourself or more people?
What: what is your key objective in terms of what you want to achieve.
Where: where will it be taking place, what is the setting.
When: what is the time frame
Why: why do you wish to achieve this? What meaning does this goal have to you.
Not all of these questions may be relevant to your specific goal. However, you want to at least consider what and why.
By having an outcome measure for your goal, you will be able to measure your current achievement to the end goal throughout the process. For example, simply having the goal of running more is very vague whereas running e.g. a 10km race makes it a very specific target that you can build your training around.
This is where I have often failed in the future. By making the goal something that is beyond my capacity and unrealistic. The goal needs to fit in with your current lifestyle. For example, say that your goal is to be able to learn how to knit a scarf in one month. When you look at the amount of available time you have left after your other commitments, it is not sufficient to allow for this. Therefore, the goal is unachievable. By changing the time frame to 6 months, it all of a sudden becomes achievable.
This section requires a bit of honesty towards yourself and self reflection. I would love to run a full marathon this coming year. However, as my current weekly total is less than 20km it is unlikely I will reach the target injury free. Looking at my situation I am 7 months into my post-natal fitness with residual laxity of limbs. I will be returning to work in February and start studying again. Additionally, I also want to see my daughter, husband and friends. Therefore, settling for something smaller such as a 1/2 marathon or a 10km race makes this much more achievable. I need less time for the training and I am more likely to be able to prevent injuries from occurring creating a better balance.
Your goal must be relevant to you. It ties back to the question why in the Specific section.If you cannot answer that question, then it is probably not the right goal for you. Make sure that it is meaningful and that achieving it will fill you with joy.
Set a time frame to your goal. It might be something that you want to do by the end of the year, or perhaps within a few months. Either way, it will give you a target to work towards.
So here is an example of a SMART goal that I have set myself for this coming year:
I want to read 12 books, one per month, of mixed genres to increase my knowledge and vocabulary by the end of the year.
It is Specific – What: I want to read books. Why: I want to increase knowledge and vocabulary.
It is Measurable – one per month
It is Achievable – I usually try and read before bed as it helps me get to sleep and wind down. Anything more would not fit in with my current lifestyle and just add extra pressure.
It is Relevant – I enjoy reading and it is something I want to make more time for by reducing the amount of time I spend on screens before bed.
It is Timed – by the end of the year.
For bigger goals, you may need to break it down into sub goals. If you want to learn a new task such as taking great photographs, but you don’t currently know much about cameras you will feel very distant from the end goal. It may even feel unachievable. Break it down to e.g. leaning the basics about a camera set up by the end of January, take a good portrait photo by the end of February and so on. Consequently, this will help you to stay focused and provide you with a sense of accomplishment as you go along.
I hope you enjoyed this article and feel energised to set your own goals. Let me know your SMART goal in the comments down below!
If you enjoyed this article, why not check this one on stress management out?