Be SMART about Goals

Welcome to the new year! The onset of a new year causes many of us to make a fresh start in some way or another. New projects, attitudes and goals abound, but let’s be smart about our goals. As our family discussed new year goals, our daughter reminded us to be specific in order to achieve them. I love how our children can be our best teachers!

Often, we have a great idea or desire to change but get stuck because we don’t know how to start, measure our progress, stay the course or finish well. This and other reasons cause many who make resolutions to never realize their goals. It’s said many will give up on a New Year’s resolution by mid-February. That’s not very inspiring.

My daughter’s comment reminded me of an acronym (you know how I love this memory technique) about goals. They should be SMART! For goals to be achieved, should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. Let’s break down this great way to think about goals.

Specific-I have one goal that’s big and a bit of a stretch. I’d love to jump in, but because it’s so new to me, I’m not exactly sure how to make it specific and can’t measure if it’s not specific. Often big goals like this have a series of smaller goals and/or projects which need to occur along the way. In order to make it specific, I’ll need to make a series of smaller, mini-goals around the projects needed to achieve the larger goal.

For example, if a “better memory” is your goal-it can be made more specific by breaking it into parts like “I’ll remember new people’s names the next time I see them.” This smaller mini-goal may also need steps to implement such as identifying key memory techniques to use, being prepared to write things down, or practicing focused attention. Writing down all the steps will help dissect any big goal into small parts to make it more specific. It also will create a doable list of action items which will be easier to focus on and implement toward progress.

Measurable-In order to see if we are making progress, we need to be able to measure how well we’re doing. If trying to lose weight, stepping on the scale once a week is an easy way to measure progress. But what about something a bit more global like that “better memory”? Breaking it into remembering new names is specific, but how will it be measured? Be creative and address the actual goal. For this, it could be daily writing down the names of anyone new. Review them, use memory techniques and see how many you can recall. Make it measurable by taking a few moments each day and week to track your progress-you’ll be motivated to continue working hard as you see some progress!

Even when we make our goals specific and measurable, we are only beginning. We can still get sidetracked and lose our focus. Next week, we’ll discuss the ART of SMART Goals and the “ART” of how to stay on track.

Goals are often personal but many times a little accountability goes a long way toward progress. It helps us stay the course and encourage one another. A personal goal of mine is to encourage others in my life and that includes you! I hope you set some SMART goals and if you need a little accountability along the way, feel free to reach out to me, I’d love to encourage you!

Let’s be SMART and get moving on our goals to make this our most memorable year yet!

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