Do you ever feel that you are just living for the sake of living and doing things just for the sake of doing things?
You are not alone. Many people simply live life this way and they really have no specific goal in life, whether it is to get a promotion, buy a bigger house, lose weight, get good grades or get top 100 in a game. In fact, 80 percent of people never set goals for themselves.
Through this article, I am going to tell you why setting a goal, specifically a SMART goal is so important and how to create one to potentially change your life.
First and Foremost, What Exactly Is A SMART Goal?
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
It is a set of guidelines for one to set more effective goals, not just goals in general. Each of the 5 components are there for a reason and any missing components significantly weakens the effectiveness of a SMART goal.
In the next few paragraphs, I will be explaining in more detail on each and every component of a SMART goal.
A SMART goal should be clear and specific. Upon looking at your goal, you should be able to know clearly whether you have achieved your goal.
You could try using the 5W1H method as seen below to make the goal clearer but some parts may interfere with the other components of a SMART goal. The more specific the goal is, the clearer and easier for you to achieve it without any doubt.
For example, let’s say I would like to score well for my examinations that are coming in a few months’ time. However, simply writing ‘I would like to score well for my examinations’ as a goal is too ambiguous. To transform it into a SMART goal, answer these questions:
What do you want to achieve?
Who are the parties involved?
Where would I like to achieve this goal?
Which resources do I need? Which challenges are most likely going to give me a difficult time achieving my goal?
Why do I want to accomplish this goal? Why is it so important to me?
How do I achieve this goal?
A measurable goal is one that you can keep track of. This allows you to know how far you are from achieving your goal and when you have achieved your goal.
With a clear progress of your goal, you are able to stay on deadline, maintain focus and ensure you are advancing in the right direction. Perhaps you can treat it as a virtual compass – one where you can tell how far you are from your destination, when you have reached it and whether you are walking in the right direction towards your destination.
Example: Assuming you are aiming to lose weight by exercising, you need to have a weighing scale to measure how heavy you are after a workout. If you are aiming for 70kg and you are currently at 75kg, you know that you have 5kg left to lose. If you instead gain weight after a week of workout, you know that something is not wrong…perhaps you ate too much after your workout? Having a measurable aspect in your goal shows you whether you are progressing in the right direction. When you do reach 70kg at last, in your mind, it is clear that you have accomplished your goal.
A SMART goal must be attainable, something within your means to accomplish.
Although a goal needs to be able to stretch your abilities, it must remain realistic. Otherwise, the goal will forever be a goal that you will never be able to complete, which could prove counterproductive and demoralizing.
Example: You just found out about internet marketing yesterday. Today, feeling ambitious, you set a goal to earn $1 million dollars from internet marketing tomorrow. This goal is not attainable because it is simply impossible to do so, even for a professional marketer.
A SMART goal is a goal that matters to you and in line with both your life purpose and other goals if possible.
You could ask yourself a few questions to ensure your goal is relevant:
- Is there any point in achieving the goal?
- Does it help me get closer to my life purpose?
- Is the goal important/useful/impactful in the current situation?
- Does it help me accomplish other goals?
- Am I the right person to accomplish the goal?
Example: If your overall goal is to make more time for studying, but you set up a SMART goal to improve your badminton skills, the SMART goal is deemed irrelevant. This is because in order to make more time for studying, one would have to reduce the time spent on other commitments (although I know efficiency also works but there is a limit to how fast you can do your assignments). Thus, achieving a SMART goal like this requires spending more time, which is not in line with your overall goal: spend less time on external commitments and free up more time for your studies.
Having a time restriction on your goal not only allows you to be challenged, but ensures that you remain focused and motivated to accomplish your goal.
Furthermore, the stress one would feel upon nearing the deadline gives an additional boost in energy to complete the goal. Perhaps you can ask yourself some questions to complete this component:
- Does my goal have a deadline? If not, how can I incorporate a deadline?
- How long does this task usually take?
- What is the fastest I can accomplish this task?
- Do I feel challenged by this deadline?
- Is the deadline reasonable? Can I still complete my goal without sacrificing quality?
- Is having a deadline like this relevant to my overall life purpose?
Example: I plan to organize my bookshelf into their respective genres and titles. Normally I would take an hour to complete this task. However, I would like to challenge myself to take 45 minutes this time as my life purpose is to increase efficiency in what I do.
Why Setting A SMART Goal Is So Important
1. A SMART goal allows you to remove distractions and concentrate on what is important
By laying down exactly what you need to do, what resources you need, what steps to take and so on, you lay a strong foundation to complete your goals. You are able to tell what is important for you to complete your goal and what is not, allowing you to filter distractions and focus intensely on the important tasks to complete.
2. You will not be able to cheat your way through by lying or doubting the meaning of your goal
With your goal being as specific as possible, you are no longer able to cheat your way through your goals. I know of some people who constantly make ambiguous goals, such that their goals apply to many things, which makes the goal so much easier to accomplish. Moreover, there are some who lie to themselves that they have completed the goal upon achieving a task that resembles the goal. As such, to ensure there is no doubt and cheating, a SMART goal is created.
3. Given that the SMART goal is written more clearly with steps to follow, you will be more inclined to accomplish your goal
Again as a result of a SMART goal being as specific as possible, one would have created a map-like system to complete one’s goals. With steps laid out clearly, as long as one follows the steps, one would achieve the goal. As a result, one would feel more inclined to achieve the goal.
4. The presence of a time restriction spurs one on to work harder
Do you ever feel that you suddenly have a burst of unlimited energy and focus when you realize that the deadline of a task is tomorrow and you are nowhere near to completion of that task? Now, that is the power of a time restriction. A time restriction gives you the necessary stress and determination to focus only on your goal and push yourself forward towards that goal.
5. With a measurable goal, not only are you able to track your progress, but you will also have a virtual compass to guide you along
With a SMART goal, you are easily able to track your progress. This ensures that you are on schedule to complete your goal and informs you when you are making progress.
Furthermore, with a virtual compass as mentioned above, you will receive more help in achieving your goals. As Lawrence J. Peter once said,” If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.”
6. You yearn for more and more
Lastly, with each completion of a SMART goal, you gain an immense sense of satisfaction. This satisfaction further spurs you on to create more SMART goals to complete.
Gradually, you will start to built up a list of SMART goals to complete. Your life improves to an extent like you have never expected before, be it in your career, studies or relationships.
According to Inc, teams that are engaged in reaching goals see a 28 percent higher same-year operating margin. A quote by Norman Vincent Peale reinforces the above sentence – “All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do. ”
A SMART Goal Template/Worksheet You Can Use
Anyone can make a template to craft a SMART goal of their own. Here are some examples to follow. As long as you have written down the five components of a SMART goal, you are good to go!
If you would like the templates that I have made, feel free to drop me an email and I will send it to you straight away!