We are constantly dreaming and making wishes for what we want our future to be like but most of us procrastinate when it comes to actually writing down our plan for how to achieve our goals. We all know where we want to go but we don’t have a plan on how to get there. This causes us a lot of anxiety in our everyday lives.
In order for us to lessen the anxiety and worries that plague us about our future, it is necessary that we come up with a plan that will give us a structure and provide guidepost to follow so we can track our progress. A vision board serves as a reminder of where you want to be but you need a plan on how to get there. One of the best methods to do this is to make S.M.A.R.T. goals.
What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
S.M.A.R.T. goals allow you to define what steps you need to achieve your goals and allows you to measure your progress as you advance thru each step of the plan. This acronym stands for the following aspects of goal setting:
- Timely / Tangible
According to Antoine de Saint-Exupery, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Allen Lakein said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”, and Napoleon Hill said, “Plan your work and work your plan.” So let’s start planning the S.M.A.R.T. way.
Create a specific goal statement. A goal stated in general terms will seem difficult or even impossible to accomplish so make sure that you make your goal statement specific. Your goal statement should answer the following questions:
- Who is involved?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Where will this happen/be implemented? – This may not always apply especially for personal goals.
- When should this happen/be implemented?
- Which things are needed? – These are the requirements and the current limitations.
- Why should I achieve this? – Your reason for the purpose and/or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
As an example, a general goal would be “I want to get physically fit.” A more specific goal would be “I want to lose 15lbs by November 15 by working out at home 3-4 times a week so I can look and feel better as well as gain more confidence in social gatherings.”
Another example is if your general goal is to get out of debt, a specific goal is “I will pay an extra P2,000 a month to my credit card bill for 12 months.”
Create the specific steps that you will do to achieve your goals but make sure they are measurable so you know that you are making progress. This also means that if you see that you are not making progress doing a particular step, then you can change that specific part of the plan.
Your measurable steps should answer the following questions:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Include specific amounts, measurements and dates so you can better track and monitor your progress each step of the way.
For example, a measurable step for the physical fitness goal would be to “exercise 30 minutes a day, 3-4 times a week”, “eat 6 small meals through out the day”, as well as “to lose approximately 2lbs per week.”
Set attainable goals. Weight the efforts you need to make to achieve the goal. Do you have the time to make the effort? Are you willing to make that much effort in the amount of time you have defined? Make sure that the goal you set for yourself is acceptable to you personally otherwise you will only lose confidence in trying to accomplish it.
However, do make your goals challenging and avoid goals that are too easy. Set a goal that you can attain but will allow you to move forward in you plan.
As an example, maybe you would really like to go to the gym for a workout but there’s not one near your home and you need to travel early to get to work on time; you also can’t afford the extra gym fee. A more attainable option is to start your plan by buying some affordable gym equipment such as dumb bells and just work out at home instead.
Make sure that the goals you set are realistic otherwise you may give up in the middle of the process. If you have financial or physical issues for example, take that into consideration as you make your goals. Try to focus on baby steps and give yourself an adequate amount of time to accomplish each step in your plan.
For example you are earning ten thousand pesos a month (P10,000). A goal to save nine thousand pesos (P9,000) a month is not realistic. In loosing weight, loosing 2lbs a week is an attainable goal compared to losing 5lbs a week. A realistic goal is more more motivating than setting the bar too high and not be able to achieve it at all.
Do your research first to make sure that what you are setting for yourself is realistically and humanly possible and break it into smaller goals if necessary. You can also ask yourself if you have achieved something similar to your goal in the past. If you have, then that is a good way to tell that your goal is realistic.
TIMELY / TANGIBLE
Your goals should be timely. You should give yourself an adequate time frame to complete each step of the plan and achieve your goals. As in the goal statement example above, you should set yourself a deadline for when you should have achieved the goal.
Your goals should also be tangible, meaning you can measure the actual progress made or the exact difference from the “before” situation compared to the “after.” In short, you can experience everything with your senses to measure the progress you are making and should be making.
A timely goals allows you to know when you can give up on a step if it fails to produce results and when to begin the next step in the plan. It also allows you to know when you can celebrate a completed milestone in your plan.
So, what are you waiting for? Get a piece of pen and paper. Look at your vision board and start writing down SMART goals on how you can slowly attain the life depicted in your vision board. Do bear in mind though that it is not going to be easy. There will be a lot of challenges ahead but there is a way to how to make your journey a lot easier.