As we approach year end and we start to think about our New Years Resolutions, and our goals for 2015, I think the process about how we go about setting our goals is important.
The better the goal setting process, the higher the probability of the goal being achieved.
I am a big fan of setting SMART goals.
SMART stands for:
The more specific we can be the better, this is the real start point of our goal. We need to be as detailed as possible. If our goal is to lose weight, then we really need to state how much. This is because there is a big difference in the approach we will take between losing 5 lbs and 20 lbs, so the more specific we are about the goal, the better we can define our approach or understand the approach that we will need to take, and when our approach is aligned with the goal, we have a much better chance of achieving it.
If we cannot measure our progress then how can we track whether or not we are on schedule? We can’t we’re just guessing. When we make our goal specific, we need to specify something we can measure. If we want to be healthier, how would we measure that? If we associate fitness with health or weight with health, then we need to set a target that we can measure, which in this example could be, we will train 3 times a week, or we will lose 10lbs. Both of these we can track and measure and see whether we are achieving our goal. I prefer a goal which has a measurable result, rather than just measuring activity.
We need to make sure our goal is something that we have a chance of achieving. We should look to stretch ourselves, but aiming for the impossible is just demotivating. So make sure that the goal is something where you have a chance completing. We can always do more, I remember when I set my goal of running a marathon many said it would be impossible, but I believed it was possible and I had a plan I believed in. What I didn’t do was say I would do my first in under 4 hours! So be bold, but be realistic. Remember you can always set a goal and include a stretch goal. So for example the goal could be, run my first marathon, with a stretch goal of run it in under 5 hrs. We focus on the goal, but keep the stretch goal in mind and if we are making great progress then we could also make the stretch goal.
It’s always best if the goal is relevant to us, ideally something important, or something that we will benefit from, because when the going gets tough, and for most bold goals it will, then if it’s not relevant or important to us, we could quit. Whereas if it is important then we are more likely to stick with it and work our way through the tough times.
When I ran my first marathon, I was doing it to raise money to support friends going through chemotherapy, which was important to me, so when it was cold and wet, and I might have preferred to stay in bed, it motivated me to get out there and run
Lastly our goals need to be time bound, we need to set a deadline for them, because when we do that again it will help us with our approach. If my goal is to lose 10lbs and I leave it open ended, then what’s my approach going to be, because my approach would be different if I planned to lose that by the end of March or the end of the year.
Also when I time bound it, then I can also set up measurement points to track my progress. If my plan is to lose 10lbs in 5 months then I can check to see whether or not I have lost 2lbs each and every month as that is what I would need to do to achieve the goal.
By time bounding it we can set our first measurement point which will then encourage us to start making the effort now because we know what we need to do each week.
The SMARTer we can make our goals the higher the probability that we will achieve them.
If you want to help in setting your SMART goals then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, the SMARTer we are in goal setting the more success we will have.