Don’t Start Your Year Like a Noob, Use SMART Goals Instead

 

Originally published January 3rd, 2017

The last few posts I’ve talked a lot about goals. If you’ve missed those, please go back and check them out. There’s a lot of good information there, particularly the previous post.

I encourage you to seek out goals that are bold and inspiring, but if you’re not setting goals that are realistic and have standards then you may be heading for disappointment.

Just as important as reviewing your goals regularly, and making sure you’re on the right path, is to set goals that follow a principle known as SMART Goals… or goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Sensitive.

The concept of SMART goals are regularly attributed to Peter Drucker’s “Management by Objectives.” Whatever the origin, plenty of people have appropriated the concept and made it their own. I’m going to give you my best take on the subject.

 

1. Specific

The practice of nailing down the goal is to answer the five W’s.

  • Who will be involved?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • When will it be done?
  • Where is it located?
  • Why is this goal important to you?

What you want to do is fully realize the goal in your mind and explain it in as much detail as possible. The squishier it is the less likely you’re going to knock this goal out of the park.

 

2. Measurable

Having a goal like, “I’d like to be more happy,” is cool, but you need to define the goal much better than that. If losing 20 pounds would be something that would make you happy, then that’s your goal. You have to define the goal in a way that will allow you to assess whether you’re getting closer or not. But more importantly, you have to know when you’ve reached the goal.

 

3. Achievable

Hey, I’d like to be the next Doctor on Doctor Who, but that’s not going to happen. While I think you should aim high, you’ve got to keep your goals within this universe, and you’ve got be realistic about your chances.

Setting outrageous goals can be exhilarating but the downside of that is when you look back after six months, or a year, and you realize that you never had a chance to achieve it. Pick goals that you can mark off the list. That’s the point. Marking shit off your list is exciting and will drive you to achieve great things.

 

4. Relevant

In my last post I told you to cast a wide net and brainstorm about many possibilities, but then pare them down. There are two reasons for this.

The first reason is that if you have too many goals, you’ll never achieve anything. Believe me, I understand this well. I’m a photographer, writer, artist, I create podcasts, coach people on personal branding and I’ve got multiple projects in each of those areas. I have to make myself focus on fewer projects or nothing will ever get done.

The second reason you must seek relevancy is to make sure that you’re picking goals that will move you toward your dreams. The whole purpose of setting big goals is to move you away from the daily grind and give you the path to success. If you’re picking goals that are outside of your overall plan then you’re wasting valuable time.

 

5. Time Sensitive

This is the easiest thing to explain, but also very important. You must set a due date on your goals. Cut yourself some slack here, I think it’s better to give too much time than not enough. But, without that deadline you will not feel the pressure you need to make the goal happen.

 

Setting Goals will Set You Free

Over the past four posts I’ve hopefully convinced you to set goals instead of make resolutions. I’ve told you why setting goals are important, how to set them, and how to make them SMART.

I can tell you that setting goals was one of the factors that made such a big difference in my life many years ago. If you’re spinning your wheels and want to shake things up, make goals a part of your daily life.

Do you have a question about goals, or do you have some tips that I should share? Contact me at dirk@dirkhooper.com or leave me a comment, I love to hear from you!

 

Dirk Hooper is a professional writer who has done work for many high-profile online magazines, has won the Top Writer Award at Quora for the past two years, and a Moore Award for copywriting in 2017.

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