Everyone talks about setting goals and achieving goals. And these days, the goals, and particularly achievements of others are crammed down our throats with social media. *spoiler: most people only show their best sides on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.. don’t compare yourself to them!* More than ever, we are all feeling the pressure to set goals, achieve goals, and repeat until the cows come home.
This new, high-pressure society raises a lot of questions about the goals they advocate for so heavily: HOW do I set a goal?? What’s so great about goals anyway.. how do they even help you? Do I really need goals? And what the heck are SMART goals??
I obviously don’t want to set dumb goals, duh. So what the heck are you talking about, Allison?
Glad you asked, friend. Let’s dive into goals and goal setting. We’ll get to SMART goals in a moment.
Why set goals?
Why should we set goals at all? Wouldn’t it be more productive to just get to work- start DOING things??
You’d think that, but no.
One of the things that makes us most human is to strive for improvement, to move forward, to GO somewhere, make something of ourselves.
How do we do this?? We set goals.
If we’re smart, we set goals that are just slightly out of reach – just a bit beyond our current capabilities – or at least, what we think our capabilities are.
We need something to strive for – something to movtivate us and keep pushing us forward so we don’t stall out, sit stagnant, and “settle.”
Goals help us improve our lives.
Goals vs. Dreams
Check out these two scenarios.
#1 – I want to win the lottery and buy a boat.
#2 – I want earn enough extra money this year to buy a boat – by attaining more clients and making more sales.
Which one is a goal? Which one is a dream?
Yep, you guessed it. #1 is a dream.
It could happen, but it’s not very likely. I have no real action plan to achieve it. It’s just something you want to happen – eventually, maybe, possibly . . . somehow.
#2 is a goal. It may be a lofty one, but it is specific and at least possible. I have a plan of action for how to achieve it. I have a timeline for my goal.
So am I saying it’s bad to have dreams?
NO! Absolutely not! Dreams are wonderful things and everyone should have dreams they’re hoping will come true one day. Dreams are a huge part of humanity, and what makes us, us.
Dreams are not something you should count on to help you improve your life.
You can try to influence others, and circumstances around you, but in the end, all you can control is YOU.
In the end, it’s YOUR work (or lack thereof) that is the only true indicator of your success.. happiness.. health, etc.
If you want something. You’ve got to set a goal, and get after it.
Dreams ain’t gonna cut it, dude.
Okay, here we go. This is what you’ve been waiting for…
What are the best goals?
The best goals push you a bit past what you think is possible.
The best goals are not just to-do lists of things you are going to do and need to do to maintain your current level of adequacy or achievement.
Goals push you past where you are now. (Otherwise, why do them, right? Those aren’t really even goals if you’re currently achieving them. Goals imply change).
However, there’s a fine line between striving for excellence, pushing past your comfort zone.. and straight up impossible goals.
Impossible goals are NOT what you want.
Challenging goals are the best ones – they push you out of your comfort zone, but are still attainable.
In my opinion (and many others’), SMART Goals are the best kind of goals. … so what are SMART goals?
Smart goals are those that contain 5 cruicial elements. SMART goals are: Specific Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timed.
Numerous studies have shown that these elements are the key factors to success – the key factors for achieving your goals.
These 5 elements of a goal help ensure that you will not only set a great goal that will push you, they will help ensure that you ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS.
In the process of achieving your SMART goals, you’ll be challenged. You’ll be pushed just a bit farther than is normally comfortable for you.
BUT. Your life, business, relationship, health, or whatever aspect of your life you’re working on.. will improve. Hopefully by leaps and bounds!!
Achieving your goal won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
Doesn’t everyone want to achieve their goals? Why else would you bother setting them??
Here’s what makes goals SMART (or not)
Specific – Your goal is specific. It pinpoints something you will achieve exactly, not generally.
Measurable – Your goal is measurable – not something that is subjective, or easily interpreted in different ways. Numbers and hard facts are your friend, even if they scare you right now.
Achievable – Your goal should push your limits a bit, yes. But it MUST be possibile (within your set timeline). Learning to fly or running a marathon in 1 month if you’re not able to run a single mile today are NOT achievable goals. Push yourself, but be reasonable.
Relevant – This goal actually helps you with some aspect of your life you want to improve right now. If you’re in school, but your goal is related to working a full-time job… that’s not relevant to you right now. Make sure it aligns with your current (basic) trajectory.
Timed – Set a hard, fast deadline for achieving your goal. When are you going to get it done? Set a date and stick to it.
SMART Goals Example
Check out my example here of a great SMART goal. Notice that it fits all 5 elements within it – and I made sure by defining them below the goal (and you should too).
I will learn to count to 20 in Spanish by the end of next week, April 8, 2019.
My goal is SMART because…
Specific: I will learn specific numbers (not “how to speak Spanish”)
Measurable: I will test it with the Duolingo App, Google Translate, and my teacher.
Achievable: I’m a beginner, but I know the first 5 numbers already. I can make it to 20.
Relevant: Learning these numbers will lead me to being fluent in Spanish one day.
Timed: I’ll achieve this goal by April 8, 2019.
I will achieve my goal by… (these are the action items I’ll take)
- Practicing numbers 1-5. I already know them.
- Learning numbers 6-10 and practicing for 2 days, and continue to practice numbers 1-5 as well. Each day, I will count from 1-10.
- On days 3 & 4, I will learn numbers 11-15, and practice those along with 1-10.
- On days 5 & 6 I will learn numbers 16-20, and practice those along with 1-15.
- On the 7th day I will be able to count to 20 in Spanish.
- I will practice with an app, and count the things I see around me.
SMART Goals Template
Now that you understand the most important parts of a SMART goal and have seen one in action – it’s time to make your own!
Rather than writing all of those terms out by hand, or spending time typing them up, you can just print off a template and fill in the blanks.
To make your life WAY easier, I created a simple, printable template for you to create your very own SMART goal – get yours now from my totally FREE resource library!
Why It’s SCARY to Set Goals
It can be pretty scary to set yourself a SMART goal – simply because of the SMART parts of it.
People always say things (around Jan. 1, right??) like “I”ll lose some weight” or “I want to learn to play the guitar”…… but they rarely achieve those goals.
I mean, what do those goals even set out to achieve? How much weight do they want to lose? By when? Will you become a guitar virtuoso? Or just play Every Rose Has It’s Thorn on repeat?? (ugh, please don’t)
The truth is, those people are too scared to set SMART goals – because they’re afraid of the failure and shame they will feel if they don’t hit their measurable target by the date they set.
I’ve been there. Trust me.
I’ve set plenty of vague “goals” in my time. I’m not proud.
Sometimes I revert back to my old ways and start to do it again. It’s such an easy trap to fall into.. Feeling all proud of yourself because you set a goal.
But then it never happens. The goal sits there, neglected and un-achieved.
The truth is, doing this means that you half-assed a “goal” that you know you’re never going to achieve – and left it vague enough to give yourself a HUGE out, and never feel true disappointment if you don’t achieve it.
Feeling disappointment sucks, for sure.
But it’s a huge part of what fuels us to get on the horse and try again. It’s part of being human, and striving to get better.
Without ever TRULY investing in a real, SMART goal, you’re allowing yourself to settle, and forcing yourself to stay on this plane – accepting your current state as your forever state.
Push past the discomfort of possible failure, set yourself some SMART goals, then work your butt off to achieve them.
And maybe you won’t even fail!
It’s not even definite failure! Hopefully you’ll succeed!
If you don’t achieve your goal this time around – then so be it.
Try a different approach. Truly commit to it this time.
Re-write a MORE specific and more-achievable goal and get back at it.
Start with a smaller goal, kick ass, and add on to it. Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got yourself a success story!
So what is your SMART goal? What are you scared of? How will you get it done?
Leave a note in the comments – It’s so much fun to cheer each other on with our goals!
The Secret To Achieving Goals (even if they’re scary)
Yeah, I told you to commit to your goal already, I know.
But HOW do you commit?
You get personally and emotionally invested in your goal. You find your WHY.
Your WHY is the thing that you push toward. It’s the vision you have of your future.. your future in a land where you have already achieved that SMART goal.
Your WHY is your driving force.
Commit to your WHY, and you’re golden.
Then, all you have to do (I say as if it is easy.. I know), is act on your COMMITMENT, not your emotions.
Don’t feel like exercising today? Sorry, that’s an emotion. You committed to it, so get to work.
Don’t want to study today? Too bad, you committed.
If you let those nagging emotions win, you’ll never achieve your goals.
If you act based on your commitments, you may experience discomfort in the moment (giving up free time, sweets, sleep, etc), but it will pay off in the long run.
To help you act on your commitment rather than your emotions, it helps to keep your WHY in mind. Write it down and tape it to your desk, mirror, steering wheel, or somewhere else you look all day.
Keep the WHY of your SMART goal in the forefront of your mind – and stay committed.
THAT is how you achieve your goal.
TL;DR – SMART Goals
SMART goals are: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, RELEVANT, and TIMED.
Find your WHY, commit to it. Act only on your commitment, not your emotion.
State your goal, how it is SMART, and what actions you will take to achieve it. (Use my template in the free resource library below)
Commit to the work. (it won’t be easy)
Track your progress.
Achieve your goal.
Don’t forget to leave a comment with your SMART goal so we can cheer you on (or help make sure it’s truly SMART).
Also, remember to download your own copy of the SMART goal template from the resource library!
And remember – make good life choices!