We all need to make goals if we want to progress in life. Whether it is something personal like losing weight or family oriented like buying a new house, we need to take steps if we want to achieve them. Many people have taken to using a method known as the SMART method. But based on past experiences, I think we need to take it two steps further and make it a SMARTER goal.
SMART is an acronym for how to set up your goal to make it more attainable.
A goal needs to Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time-bound. Now, what does this actually mean in terms of goal writing?
Let’s take the example of my goal to read more using the Back to the Classics challenge. A classic goal would simply be stated, “I will complete the 2019 Back to the Classics challenge.” This is actually not too bad of a goal. But it can be stated even more clearly and planned out more. By doing this, I will have a better chance of succeeding.
First, the goal needs to be specific. What exactly am I trying to achieve through this goal? What category of my life does this fit in? Work, Personal, Family, or Faith? Can I do this alone or do I need others?
This is a personal goal. I want to read all the books for a reading challenge presented on a blog Books and Chocolate. This is so that I can get back to the classics that are often overlooked in my reading. It is a solo project. So I do not need anyone’s assistance.
Next, the goal needs to be measurable. How will I know when I’ve achieved this goal? What are the criteria necessary? Is there a time limit? Is there any other limit?
For me, that would be easy to answer. I need to read twelve books, one for each category. And I need to have read all these books within twelve months. Or by the end of 2019.
What actions need to be made for me to succeed? Can it be broken down into smaller daily or weekly actions?
Another easy answer for this particular goal. Since I need to read twelve books in twelve months, I need to average a book a month. I could count up the total number of pages (4,314 pages) and then figure in the average by month (360 pages per month), week (83 pages per week), or even day (12 pages per day). It all depends on how closely you need to monitor your progress.
Is this project or goal able to be achieved realistically in the time allotted? Am I able to do this in my normally scheduled day or is it a new skill that may take me more time in the beginning? Is the season of my life amenable to this type of goal?
Since I have always devoured books, this is something that I should easily be able to accomplish. Even in the busiest year of my life with a new homeschooler and a newborn in the house, I was able to read almost 100 books. Granted, those books were all fun and easy. The books on my list are more challenging. Like War & Peace, at 1225 pages. But 12 books should still be doable for a reader such as myself.
How much time do I have to accomplish this goal? Is there a specific end-date? Are there any other rules to limit my time during the year?
This particular goal is exactly one year. It is to be finished by midnight on December 31, 2019. Technically, I can read all day every day should I want to. Realistically, as anyone with children knows, I am looking more at one hour per night. More if I forego sleep.
So now my new SMART goal can be stated, “I will read 12 books averaging 360 pages per month for the Back to the Classics challenge to be completed by midnight December 31, 2019.”
Now, I could stop here. I would probably even succeed. This particular goal is not too difficult. But let’s say that the goal is a little more complicated. And that there are multiple steps that need to be taken at specific times. Like starting a new blog or business. Or buying a new house. Adding on these last two steps may actually increase the likelihood of succeeding. You will want to Evaluate and then Readjust, possibly several times during the year.
Let’s continue with my example of the reading challenge.
Create a schedule to periodically review your progress. It can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even just at the half-way point.
I will probably check quarterly to be sure that I have read at least 3 books during the last quarter or averaged a minimum of 1000 pages read. I want to make sure that I’m not leaving War & Peace for the last month and making myself finish over 1000 pages in just one month.
Change your plan or schedule as necessary.
By checking occasionally to see what I have already read and what I have left, I can give myself more time to finish or force myself to find more time. I won’t be caught a few weeks before the deadline with half the books to complete and not enough time.
This method can be used for each and every goal you make. It applies to yearly goals as well as something with a shorter time frame. It may take a little more time to plan and set up. But chances are you will be more successful.
To help you create your own SMARTER goals, I’ve made a chart that you can fill out. You can find your free copy on the Freebies page.