Smart Goal Setting is an acronym using the word “SMART” or “SMARTER” to set goals. It helps the goal-setter put together a plan so that they are more likely to achieve their goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Often people add an “E” and an “R” to the end making the acronym read as “Smarter.” The E and the R stand for Evaluate and Reevaluate.
There have been times in your life where you have accomplished what you set out to do, but there have also been times where your goal has fallen by the wayside. The absolute truth is that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. The sky is your limit. Smart Goal Setting makes it more likely you reach your goals.
How Smart Goal Setting works:
The “S” in Smart goal setting stands for “Specific.” It can also sometimes be referred to as “Simple” or “Significant.”
Studies show that the more specific a goal is the more likely you are to achieve it. This is as opposed to a general goal. Set your goal so that it is clear and discernible. For example, a general goal would be setting a goal to have better relationships. A specific goal would be to communicate better with your sister to avoid disagreement. This sets forth expectations, as well as what you plan to do to make the goal happen. An easy way to make your goal more specific is to use ask who, what, where, when and why.
The “M” in smart goal setting stands for “Measurable.” Some professionals also refer to it as “Motivational,” “Manageable,” or “Meaningful.”
This part of goal setting is about how you measure your success towards reaching the goal. To do this means to lay out measurable steps to be sure you are on track to reaching your goal. Without a means of measuring your progress, especially with more complex goals, you cannot know how well you are doing with reaching the goal. This also pushes the goal-setter to get more done in a timely manner and keeps the goal-setter on track!
The “A” in smart goal setting stands for “Attainable.” It is also often referred to in these other “A” terms: “Achievable,” “Actionable,” “Assignable,” “Aspirational,” “Ambitious, “Agreed,” “Aligned,” and “Appropriate.”
This part of the goal setting process is making sure your goal is actually attainable. It is okay if it is a difficult goal, but is it realistic and actually possible and not too far-reaching? When a goal is believed to be attainable, the goal-setter is more likely to take action towards reaching the goal whereas if the goal-setter thinks it is impossible or if it actually is impossible, they will give up earlier. The attitude towards the goal is important! So this part of goal-setting answers a “how” question: “How will I accomplish the goal?” Identify obstacles, but evaluate them to be sure they are not actually unworkable or impractical.
The “R” in smart goal setting stands for “Relevant.” Many people also refer to the “R” as “Realistic.”
This part is where you check whether your goal is relevant to your life. In other words, how important is it? If it is unimportant or not worthwhile, the goal-setter will not work towards it.
The “T” in smart goal setting stands for “Timely.” It can also represent “Time”-oriented words, such as “Time frame.”
This is where you will match up your goals and/or steps to achieve the goal with a target date or dates. Deadlines are proven to help a person complete a task more timely. This keeps the goal-setter on track and constantly working towards the end objective rather than just having an amorphous and indeterminate plan. During this part, establish the answers to questions such as “When do I need to have XYZ completed to move on to the next task?” and “What do I need to do this week to complete step ABC?”
E and R
If you choose to add “E” and “R,” then perhaps you are more serious about reaching your goal. The “E” in smart goal setting stands for “Evaluate” and the “R” stands for “Reevaluate.” These steps are used during the goal achievement process to examine how your plan is going and whether timelines or steps need to be reworked.
Write it Down
Last but not least, write it down! While this is not part of the Smart Goal Setting, written goals makes them more likely to be achieved. For more, read: Writing Goals.