Let's talk about goal setting and why they are necessary to jump-start your year.
Last week I talked about SMART goals. SMART goals are used to ensure your goals are well defined, make sense, and are attainable. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Full disclosure, I was doing some research for this post and ran across this particular classification. While this phrasing is new to me, the technique is not. I've been using a categorization strategy for a while when it comes to goal setting. The reason why is simple, assigning goals to a classification helps to give them a priority. Prioritizing goals makes it easier to determine which goals need to get completed sooner than later, and which goals will require more commitment than others. I view goal setting as milestone planning. Milestones are a culmination of a number of tasks that lend to an overall goal or achievement. So for today's post, let's break down my version of SMART goal setting and how it can support getting to the next, or your next several milestones. I've made a few modifications based on what works for me. You can definitely modify as you see fit. Let's jump into my famous bulleted lists.
S: Specific - Before you can define the steps to achieve a milestone, you need to know what that milestone is. It's important that you are clear about what you endeavor to accomplish. Get into the practice of defining your goals with as much detail as needed to make them clear. Try not to use broad statements in your goal planning that lack context. Doing so allows you to create actionable steps (tasks) that will support your achievement. For instance, saying that you have "fitness goals", is too general and lacks a clear definition. It doesn't allow you to create a plan with actionable steps because it's too broad. Narrowing your goal to a singular focus will be easier to manage. The alternative to a "fitness goal" is "I want to lose 20 pounds, by March 2021". Now your goal has some clear targets with your What and When. Now, you can begin creating tasks around the goal itself.
M: Measurable - This is how you determine if you are making progress. So for example, to make a weight loss goal measurable, you should know what your starting weight is versus your end goal. You can establish weekly check-ins to make sure you are still trending in the right direction. The intent is that you are aware of what you are working towards, and you can see what it takes to get you there.
A: Attainable - This is about your ability to actually do what you want to do. Is the goal reachable in the time frame that you've defined? Can you lose 20 pounds by March? Probably. But when you are defining your tasks, you need to be clear about the steps and the time involved. 20 pounds by March, may mean that you have to exercise 8hrs a week, plus begin a meal plan. If these are the tasks needed to reach the goal, make sure you are specific about what you need to do, when it needs to be done, and how you will accomplish it. Doing so will help you determine if you can do what you've planned when you've planned, or if you need more time.
R: Relevant - Does this goal make sense? Does it relate to other goals that you are planning? Will it support other areas of your life? Relevant goals will add value to other areas of your life, project, etc.? As you are defining goals for the new year, think broader than the goal itself. Think about its value in the longer term or value that reaches beyond the goal itself.
T: Timely - Will this goal make sense for the time that you want to accomplish it? Do you have time to commit to weight loss goals? Do you have time or resources to make it happen, by the time you've planned? When defining your tasks, this is part of your how. How will you support the tasks and execute the steps needed to complete them? This is how a goal is defined as timely. It is the ability of a goal to make sense for the time you need it and also making sure you have the time to commit to its fulfillment.
What I like about the SMART goal planning strategy (my slightly modified version), is that it really forces you to create holistic goals. It makes sure you consider all the factors required to build the tasks needed to accomplish the goal and meet the milestone. This process is great to see how a goal can support other areas of your life or work and is great to determine if you have the capacity to fully commit to the work needed to accomplish the goal.
When you start goal planning this year, consider using the SMART goals technique. It may take a little time because this technique is about details and specificity. But any good goal should be well defined. That's part of the reason some goals are often missed. Because we aren't really sure what we mean, what we want, or have a clear plan of action. But this year, your goal setting will be different. I'm sure of it. Let me know if you opt to use this technique and how it's working for you. It's possible I'll create a helpful guide to accompany this post...stay tuned.
That's all for this week. As always, these are my thoughts. Merry Christmas.