You have probably heard the term “SMART Goals,” but sometimes it’s hard to remember what they are and how to set them. SMART goals are not only a smart way to set goals, they help us focus our efforts, save time, use our resources productively and increase our chances of achieving what we want in life.
SMART stands for:
Let’s break these down even further:
Your goal should be specific and clear, otherwise the actions you must take to achieve it may not be clear. Here is an example of an unspecific goal: get fit. Here is an example of a specific goal: lose 5 pounds. When writing your goal, try to answer these questions:
-What do I want to accomplish?
-Why is this important to me?
-Who else is involved?
-Which limits or resources will be involved?
It is important to set goals that you can measure to track progress. As you progress, momentum will build, and motivation will increase. Assessing your progress will help you to meet your deadlines and stay excited about getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address these questions:
-How much/how many?
-How will I track progress and know when my goal has been reached?
For example, losing 5 pounds is measurable, but “becoming fit” is not. If you wanted to make “becoming fit” more measurable, you would need to determine what your definition of “fit” is. Maybe it’s the ability to do 5 pull-ups, or the ability to run 1 mile. Whatever your definition of “fit” is, you can always make those goals into more specific and measurable goals.
Your goal needs to be something you can achieve. It should cause you to stretch, but be within reach. An achievable goal will usually answer these questions:
-How can I accomplish this goal?
-Does it depend on someone else’s participation?
-How realistic is the goal based on all other factors? (Can I afford it? Do I have time for it?)
Relevance is whether or not the goal is important for you right now and that it aligns with your other priorities/goals. You may need to consider your family/spouse priorities when making goals so that they don’t conflict. Ask yourself these questions to make sure your goal is relevant:
-Is this goal worthwhile?
-Is this the right time to work on this goal?
-Does this align with my priorities/needs?
-Am I the right person to achieve this goal?
-Is this goal applicable in my life right now?
Goals need deadlines so that there is something to push us to accomplish them. The deadline is what pushes you to fit your goal into your daily tasks so that you can accomplish it in time. Ask yourself these questions when making sure your goal is time-bound:
-When can I accomplish this by?
-How many times a day/week/month do I need to work on my goal?
-What can I do today?
-How much time will I spend on this goal each day/time?
Here’s an example of a SMART goal:
I will eat 2.5 cups of vegetables on 5 out of 7 days each week for the month of January. This goal is:
-Specific because it tells you exactly how many cups of vegetables to eat each day
-Measurable because you can actually measure vegetables and how many days per week you completed it
-Achievable because you’re used to eating 1.5 cups a day, so it won’t be too much of a stretch and you do have access to vegetables
-Relevant because you need more fiber in your diet to help with digestion
-Time-bound because the days per week were specified and the length of the goals was specified
We help clients set SMART goals in nutrition counseling to be able to achieve those goals they have been longing to achieve for months or even years. We have found that small, achievable goals help clients to experience success. Success then creates excitement that motivates clients to set more goals on top of the previous goal. Eventually, your long-term goal is reached through achieving small goals stacked on top of each other over time.