Have you noticed how a couple of gadgets in our world today are becoming smart and hence more reliable. For example, smart phones, smart fridges, and other smart gizmos that are making life more convenient for humans. What then would you think of SMART goals? First of all, goals, as you know, drive us toward achieving our desires; therefore by making them SMART, we can be more confident and sure of actualizing our dreams.
In case you are wondering what I mean when I say SMART goals – SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound; let’s visit each of them:
Specific: The goal must be specific. It must state exactly what needs to be achieved and how it needs to be achieved. For example, simply saying, “I want to ace my upcoming Calculus exam” or “I want to earn a lot of money ”, aren’t good enough. A specific goal would sound something like:
“I obtain an A+ (91% and above) on my Calculus 101 course this semester. To achieve this, I score at least 92 % on my midterm exams, quizzes, and final exam.”
Being specific about a goal can be likened to marking a bulls-eye – the target to hit. Notice the way the goal statement is phrased in the present as though the goal has already been achieved. That’s a neat trick to awakens the subconscious mind, and make it work on ways to achieve the set goal. The more the subconscious mind is fed with the specific desires, the harder it works to produce possibilities for achieving the set goals.
Measurable: The only way to tell whether or not a goal has been achieved is if progress toward reaching it can be precisely tracked. This aspect is very important because it clearly shows how far or near is the realization of a set goal. Also, it tells how much effort needs to be summoned toward the accomplishment of the task at hand. For example, setting a goal of acing a Calculus course – by scoring at least 92% on all assessments (i.e. midterm, quizzes, and final exam) – gives an idea of how much intense studying is required in preparing for the test. By attaching a specific percentage to each assessment it becomes simple to measure and track progress. Just as money in the piggy-bank can be easily tracked, goals should be easily measured as well.
Achievable: A goal may be beyond reach but mustn’t be beyond sight. This means that it should be challenging enough that it calls for some stretching and some discomfort in the comfort zone (that is the only way to grow). Going back to the sample goal stated earlier – “I obtain an A+ (91% and above) on my Calculus 101 course …” Scoring an A+ on an upcoming Calculus test, at first, may look daunting but how do we know that this goal is achievable? Well, since many people have done in the past we know for sure that it is achievable. The same thing applies to goals set to rev up net income by a certain date, start up a business by end of the year, or just about any goal in the area of health and fitness, spiritual, mental, intellectual, and what have you. It can be done because others have done it before (even if others haven’t you can be the trailblazer). Remember also that whatever the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve
Realistic: There is a limit to what can be done at any time period given certain known, uncontrollable conditions. When setting a goal it helps to, first, understand what limits/conditions exists; second, set the goal to align with those known, fixed limits/conditions. For example, it is quite unrealistic to set a goal to obtain a final grade of 80% on a course with a score below 65 % on the three previous assessments. (I am assuming here that the final grade is the average of the three assessments.) Honestly, such a goal won’t be realistic (considering no makeup tests and no miracles), and the person who set the goal may end up getting disappointed if the goal on the final grade doesn’t get adjusted to account for the insufficient results on the previous assessments.
Time-bound: When setting a goal, it always helps to assign a deadline to the goal so that it doesn’t become just another dream. Even if an initial deadline is not met, another one should be set and then another after that if needed. There is no such thing as an impossible goal; there is only an impossible deadline. Also, saying that an assignment or a task will be completed “some day” isn’t ideal because “some day” means “no day”. (“Some day” isn’t one of the days of the week – is it?) Establishing deadlines for a goal is a great way to conquer the villain of procrastination.
To the realization of your SMART goals!
Apply the SMART goal technique when next you set a goal.
Do you set SMART goals? If so how effective have they been to you? (Feed the comment box below :-))