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Are you SMART About Setting Goals?

Updated: May 5, 2022

We all know that goal-setting is an important aspect of time management. Goals can help you stay focused and motivated while allowing you to work more effectively. For this to work though, we have to be smart about setting goals or, more so, we have to learn how to set SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym that helps you set clear and effective goals. It stands for:

Specific (significant, simple)

Measurable (meaningful)

Achievable (attainable)

Relevant (realistic, reasonable)

Timely (time-bound, time-sensitive)

How to use the SMART model?

When designing your goals, think about the characteristics they should have based on the SMART model.

1. Specific: Your goal must be clear and well-defined.

2. Measurable: Your goal must be measurable, so you can track your progress. Ask yourself, when will I know that I have accomplished my goal?

3. Achievable: Your goal must be realistic. Evaluate the requirements and resources needed to accomplish your goal. Is the goal dependent on you or others?

4. Relevant: Your goal must be important to you or you won't be motivated. Ask yourself, does this goal help me achieve my long-term goals?

5. Timely: Your goal must have a due date. This will give you something to work towards.

Where should you start?

If you are new to goal-setting, it is best to start small. Don't be too ambitious. Before you start, here are a few things you may want to consider:

Partial view of a woman sitting infront of a desk touching the touchpad of an open latop. Two notebooks, a pen and a white mug can be seen on the table. There is a blurry view of more notebooks and a cellphone at the front of the image. A white window with natural lighting is observed in the background.
  • Brainstorm! Think about the big picture (your end result). Write down your ideas.

  • Analyze your ideas and determine what you want to accomplish (end goal).

  • Write down your long-term goal using the SMART model described above. Next, split it up into smaller short-term goals that will help you achieve your long-term goal.

Why should you set goals?

Still not convinced that goal-setting is for you? Here are a few reasons why you should reconsider it:

  • Goal-setting keeps you on track. Having a clear plan gives you a sense of direction, which helps you achieve your goals.

  • Goal-setting helps you prioritize. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you need to complete multiple tasks. By setting goals, you will learn to work more effectively by focusing on higher-priority tasks first.

  • Goal-setting keeps you motivated. You will have something to work towards. Every time to achieve one of your short-term goals, you will be closer to your long-term goal.

  • Goal-setting makes you accountable. Think of your plan as a contract with yourself. It is ultimately your responsibility to follow through, so you will learn to be more accountable for your work.

When should I assess my progress?

Remember that in order to set SMART goals, you need to have a time frame or due date. Check in at the halfway point and assess your progress. Are you likely to achieve your goal within the time frame? Do you need to make adjustments?

Once the due date has passed, perform another assessment. Did you accomplish your goal? If your answer is yes, congratulations. If your answer is no, do not give up. Take this as a learning opportunity and try to analyze why you were unable to achieve it. Was your goal too ambitious for the given time frame? Did you not work as effectively as you could have? What can you do differently next time?

Now it's your turn. Are you ready to set your first goal?

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