SMART Goals are the simplest and most effective tool to use when you want to do something.
Let’s use the New Year’s Resolution example of “This year I want to get healthy!”. I know I’ve said that before and before I know it, it’s September and nothing has changed… There is a simple reason for this, and it is due to one word… “healthy”. What does healthy mean? What would healthy look like? What do I need to do to get there and how am I going to do it?
If we don’t have clear answers for these questions within our goal, it simply is less likely to happen. In comes SMART Goals!
The S stands for Specific.
What is it, specifically, that would tell you that you are healthy? Is it being able to run 5kms, lose 10kgs, increase your fruit and vegetable intake by 2 serves or increase your water intake to 2L? If you identify exactly what you want at the end, you are more likely to know how to get there.
The M stands for Measurable.
The measurable part is so that you know if you have done it or not. 5kms is measurable, 2 serves is measurable. “Healthy” isn’t. Put a number to your goal and you have ticked the measurable part.
The A stands for Action-Oriented.
Basically, if a guy sleeping can do the thing better than you, it’s not an effective goal. An example of that would be “I am not going to eat chocolate today”. Well Bob having a nap on the couch can do that better than you, so have a think about what you will do to achieve your goal of not eating chocolate that day. “I will throw out the junk food in my cupboard today” is an example, the action of throwing out the junk food ticks this box.
The R stands for Realistic.
“I will go to the gym twice this week and lose 10kgs” is a wonderful example of an unrealistic goal. If we are going to set ourselves up for failure from the beginning, our motivation to even start will be pitiful…
The T stands for Time-Bound.
If our teachers at school didn’t give us a due date for homework to be brought back, would we ever have done it in the first place? (Remember we did just learn about the importance of being realistic… #stoplyingtoyourself) It is absolutely vital that we set time limits on goals or starting “tomorrow” sounds like a better and better idea as time goes on. The main problem with New Year’s Resolutions, is we have a whole year to complete them! No real pressure to get moving right? So break a big goal into smaller parts, maybe monthly, weekly or even daily goals.
So how will our New Year’s Resolution of “This year I want to get healthy!” change once we apply SMART to it?
Perhaps something like “I will increase my daily water intake by one glass per day, starting today, till I reach 2L” or maybe “At 4pm today I will download the couch to 5km and follow the prompts”. This makes it simple, straight forward and leaves little room to wiggle out of it.
Happy Goal Setting!
About the Author
Tara Hurster is a registered psychologist who has assisted clients in behaviour modification, mood management and addiction treatment. She works to build her client’s confidence and self-esteem by teaching simple tools and strategies that creates lasting change.