There’s a basic litmus test for goals that will help ensure they are set up correctly. Whether you’re familiar with it or not I’m going to review it quickly because it’s so simple. All you have to remember is SMART. You want SMART goals.
– Specific – what exactly do you need to do to achieve this goal. No generalities here!
– Measurable – You must be able to measure something to achieve it. Pretty simple.
– Attainable – Aim high enough to make your stomach jump at the thought of it, but not so high you secretly know it’s ridiculous.
– Realistic – Michael Phelps wanted to win 8 gold medals, awesome. You want to win 8 gold medals? Just be honest, that’s all I ask.
– Time bound – Your goal must have a deadline. Don’t cut yourself too much slack here.
Let’s take a few examples to see how we can make some basic goals pass this test:
Goal: Lose weight
This is realistic and attainable, but fails the other three tests. Looking at the SMART test we can reverse engineer the goal to pass:
SMART Goal: Lose 35 pounds by December 1, 2011.
Boom! You’ve just instantly multiplied the likelihood that you’ll achieve this goal. Now let’s try one of my personal goals that’s a little bit harder.
Goal: Read 30 min a day, 3 times a week in 2011.
Is this SMART? Basically, but I struggle with one part of it. It’s not really time-bound. To achieve the goal I need to follow the pattern for 52 weeks in a row. Only read 2 days one week, fail. Skip a week for vacation, fail. I’m basically setting myself up for failure on this one.
So what did I do to make it really SMART? How’s this:
SMART Goal: Read 20 books in 2011.
Now I can read at my leisure and as long as I’m getting through 20 books I’ll make it. By the way so far this goal has really been pushing me to get through books without stalling (I tend to do that every now and then).
Real World Problem – Can You Help?
One last example and this one I’m going to need some help with because I still haven’t figured it out. This is a goal I’ve never quite been able to make pass the SMART test and as a result hasn’t progressed like I wanted.
Goal: Spend 30 min a day, three times a week studying the bible and in solo prayer time.
How do I make this pass the SMART test? It seems to fall victim to a lot of the problems as my first attempt at a reading goal. And since prayer and study time isn’t something you complete it’s hard to make it measurable.
I’m sorry to say my relentless goal setting, progress tracking mentality has allowed me to let this part of my life slip. It’s something I really need to be better about, but without having found a way to wedge things like this into this framework it’s been noticeably absent.
What about you? Are your goals SMART? Can you make my last goal SMART?