The ART of Being SMART

Whether we call them resolutions, goals, or a new year to-do list-it’s about wanting to do new things in a new year. But change can be difficult and there is an art of being smart. This saying summed it up for me this week- “if nothing changes, nothing changes.” So, if we want to accomplish something new, something must change, difficult or not.

Previously, we discussed SMART goals and the first two letters/concepts of this helpful goal-related acronym. This week, let’s finish with the ART of being SMART about our goals (or anything we want to accomplish) to make it less difficult and more achievable.

To briefly review, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Goals truly need to be specific and measurable or we’ll never know if we’ve achieved them! Review this post for details on creating specific and measurable goals.

Let’s move onto Attainable. I’ve also heard it described as achievable, but attainable seems more approachable (also an A ?). All these A words talk about the end goal. Obviously, we want to achieve or attain our goals or we wouldn’t make them! But sometimes we reach for the stars and miss steps along the way. Let’s make our goals attainable with smaller steps in mind and often we will achieve them faster.

If we go back to last week’s example goal of a ‘better memory’, this is surely attainable, but the steps along the way matter. Breaking it down into ‘remembering new people’s names’ each week is specific, measurable, and yes, even attainable. We’ll be able to measure, adjust as needed and continue onward toward the larger goal of remembering names AND having a ‘better memory’ by keeping the goal and smaller steps in mind.

Next up is Realistic or I’ve also heard it called Relevant. I like realistic more as it brings time management into focus. Goals will never be achieved if we can’t put some time into them. For the last few years I’ve been a bit overextended on my time, goals, and tasks. I realized at one point I had twice as much to do than I had time to actually do it! This really opened my eyes which then created a goal to pull back and focus on the truly important.

Let’s take a look at our goal(s) AND available time. Does the time we have available line up with adding this new goal? If not, maybe the goal isn’t realistic (and then also attainable). If the new goal is important, we may have to realistically let go of something else to add this new goal and its steps.

Lastly, is Time-bound. There must be a deadline. This is my husband’s mantra. He applies deadlines almost a bit too much for my liking, but he’s right. If there’s no deadline, if it isn’t bound by time in some fashion, it becomes a wish and not a goal. WHEN will this goal be accomplished? Is it this week, month, quarter, year? As I ruminated on goals over the last month or so, I’ve come to understand the difference between a goal and a vision.

A vision is something more like a wish. We hope to achieve this vision for our life, business, family etc. To work toward the vision, we break it into goals, which often have projects and/or steps, etc. along the way. Vision is a wish, something to provide a framework for the future, whenever that is. But goals have a deadline, so let’s make them time-bound.

The SMART process truly is an art. We create goals from a vision we have of who we’d like to be and what we’d like to do. We then create the process of getting there. It’s personal and creative-sounds like an art to me!

Making our goals SMART allows us a fighting chance when complacency, fatigue and life’s distractions tempt to pull us off course. If you haven’t yet this year, take a few moments, a day, or a weekend to sit down and dream, create vision, and then make some SMART goals. I recently did this and it truly does create a framework to approach our days and lives.

We only have so many moments in this life and if we want to make them memorable, SMART goals can help. Try it and see if it’s a SMART choice for you!

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