SMART Goals: What They are and Where to Start

You are probably asking yourself, “what are smart goals?” You thought all your goals were smart right?! Except for maybe that time you really wanted to learn the macarena.. Just kidding.

Smart goals are easy enough to understand. Really, most of your goals are probably halfway SMART anyway. Smart is just a really good acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

It is widely accepted that the origination of S.M.A.R.T goals are from the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. SMART objectives are designed to be easy to achieve because they are very well thought out.

Setting Smart Goals

As we talked about before, smart goals are easier to achieve than other objectives because you really put a lot of thought into them, and define them very well.

How many times have you set a goal like “I want to lose weight” and then you never get around to it? Maybe you say “I will save more money” but it’s such a vague concept to “save more money” that you never change your spending habits.

By breaking your goals up into each of the categories of S.M.A.R.T, you define exactly what you are going to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, who is going to help you achieve it, and when you are going to achieve it.

Let’s talk about some examples of smart goals

We will start by breaking down the 2 goals we talked about just a few paragraphs above.

  1. I want to lose weight
  2. I will save more money

Do you see how those are pretty vague and they’re very hard to define when you have achieved them?

S – Specific

Break your goal down into specific steps.

  • How much weight will I lose?
    • I will lose 15 lbs
  • Why do I want to lose 15 lbs?
    • My knees and back have been hurting and the cause of it is that I have been more sedentary than I should be. I want to lose weight so that I’m not in pain anymore.
  • Who/what is going to help me lose 15 lbs?
    • I am going to ask my fitness trainer friend for suggestions on diet. I will create a workout plan as well.
  • How much money will I save?
    • I will save $3,000
  • Why do I want to save $3,000?
    • I want to use $1,000 for a vacation to the beach, and the other $2,000 will go into an emergency savings account so that I can cover unexpected expenses.
  • Who/what is going to help me save $3,000?
    • I am going to use the Mint app for tracking and creating my budget. I will have my friends keep me accountable when they see me spending money on things that I don’t need.

M – Measurable

You need to know your starting point to be able to keep track of where you’re going.

For the weight loss goal, your starting point is your current weight and your finish line is 15 lbs lighter than you are now. Step on the scale to see where you’re at, then make a note of the weight and the date.

For the saving money goal, look at your current account balances. Open up a new savings account to start at $0 if you need to.

A – Attainable

We need to make sure that we aren’t looking at a pie in the sky goal here. Can I really lose 15 lbs? Maybe you are already a marathon runner and losing 15 lbs will put you at an unhealthy weight.

$3,000 is a lot of money. You will have to cut down on some expenses to be able to save that much. Can you cut out $3,000 worth of expenses? Maybe it’ll be really easy for you if you eat out every day and night. It could be super hard if you’re a single parent who has to cover all expenses as well as daycare.

Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. If you need to take baby steps towards your big goals then take baby steps. This is for you to decide. There’s nobody out there pointing a finger at you if you fail. You will learn how to set SMART attainable goals as you grow your knowledge base.

Push yourself a little bit, but don’t create goals that are totally out of reach.

R – Relevant

Why on earth do you want to save $3,000? Oh yeah, you have been dying to go on vacation and you haven’t had the money to in 3 years. You are living paycheck to paycheck and you really need an emergency fund so you’re not stressing out about every minor emergency that pops up.

How is 15 lbs of weight loss going to help you? Well for one, you will have less knee and back pain. It can lower your risk for other forms of disease. That’s if you are 15 lbs overweight, remember to only make this a goal if it’s relevant to you.

T – Time Bound

You have to put an end date on something, otherwise you will put it off forever. Believe me, I’m more guilty of this than anybody.

When will you lose 15 lbs? I will lose 15 lbs in 6 months. So, that means that I will lose about 2.5 lbs every month. I think I can do that!

How long will it take you to save $3,000? I have taken a look at my budget, and I’ll be able to save an extra $500 every month. That means it will take me 6 months to save $3,000.

Remember the original goals we talked about?

  • I want to lose weight.
  • I will save more money.

And now look at our final goals!

I will lose 15 pounds in 6 months because I’m sick and tired of having knee pain and back pain. I’m going to ask my friend who is a fitness nerd about what kind of diet I should stick to, and I will also create a workout regiment for myself that I will follow every week. I will lose 2.5 pounds every month and at the end of 6 months, I will meet my goal!

In 6 months I will have $3,000 saved. $1,000 of that is going to take me to the beach and $2,000 will be in my emergency fund so that I’m not stressing about unexpected expenses. All I need to do is cut back a little bit and save $500 each month and I will meet my goal. I’ll go down to the bank in the morning and open a new account to so that I know when I’ve met my goal. Can’t wait to have my toes in the sand!

You can really see the difference in just a few short steps of defining our objectives!

Smart Goals Template

Smart Goals Template

I used those 2 examples because it seems like a couple of things that will hit home for most of us. We’ve all been a little self conscious about our weight and we have probably all struggled with money at some point.

Those are just a couple personal goals to use as examples. I created a template that can be used for any category in your life. There are 6 pillars to your success that I use when creating my personal development plan and you can see them here.

To get a full sized copy of my Smart Goals Template then simply click here or use the form below to sign up and it will be emailed to you.

Smart goals are the easiest path to achieve your best

If you’re like me, then you have a lot of dreams and aspirations. You dream about being the best version of you that you can be. You have ideas about how you can get there, but seem to fall short in following through.

There’s something inside of you that you can’t quite put your finger on. You have this fire to achieve all of your dreams.

Using this strategy to creating your goals makes it easier! You really think through exactly how you’re going to achieve your goals. It’s not just throwing a dart blindly through the air. It’s having a huge target that you literally can’t miss.

Failure is a good thing

Now, I would be doing you a disservice if I made it sound like you will achieve all of your goals.

We did talk about making sure that they were attainable, but that doesn’t mean that you will have time for everything that you want to do, or have the ability to complete your objectives even if you think you do.

That means that sometimes you won’t achieve your goals. And that is OK! That means that you can learn from the experience and come back and crush your goal the next time around.

Don’t let failure stop you from

Don’t waste any more time simply floating along without concrete objectives for your life.

If you’re looking for inspiration on some goals to start with then you can check out our ultimate guide to goal setting.

Goal Setting Guide

Remember to just continue growing every day. Compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Keep your eye on the prize and don’t let anything stop you!

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