WTF are S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Why Do I Need Them
It's a new year and that means resolutions and goal setting. I know there are articles that say resolutions don't work and you shouldn't make them but for me, there is something so great about a new year and a fresh start. I love reviewing my goals from the last year and seeing where I excelled and where I should have put more focus, it helps me to regroup and prioritize what I want for the upcoming year.
But how can you make resolutions and goals that will help you to have a great year rather than goals that end up slipping and falling by the wayside by February or March? The key is to make them S.M.A.R.T. (simple, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound). You may have seen this acronym before, especially if you like reading posts about productivity. A smart goal is the difference between "I want to work on my blog more" and "I will post to my blog 3x per week on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings," it's the difference between "I'm going to start my side hustle" and "I'm going to set up my Etsy shop and list 4 new products per month for sale."
Smart goals are built on a foundation that demands planning and strategy which helps keep you from procrastinating or being a little lazy in accomplishing them.
Let's break it down a bit more:
This keeps you from making huge goals and setting yourself up for struggle and failure. Instead of "I'm going to lose a ton of weight and workout every day and drink more water and eat healthy every day," a simple goal is "I'm going to walk or run 1 mile every day." That couldn't be simpler and it gets you towards that more complicated goal of being healthier and losing weight.
Creating a goal that is measurable is really just ensuring that your results aren't subjective. "I'm going to work on my blog more," is a very vague goal, what is more? If I work on my blog 3 times this year, is that really the "more" I had in mind? A much better goal is "I'll post a new blog 3 times per week." So if I only post once this week, I already know I'm not sticking to my goal and I either need to focus and dedicate more time or change the goal to make it more realistic.
Setting a goal or making a resolution with no plan for how you'll achieve it is setting yourself up to fail. A goal like, "I want to match my full-time salary in freelance income," is all well and good but how do you get there? Where do you even start? Sometimes, you have to break your goal into smaller goals like "I will get one new freelance client per month," and "I will start accepting jobs on Upwork and fiverr to build my project based freelance income," are much better at giving you a starting point than bigger goal that could take months or even years to achieve.
Some of us, including me, have a tendency to reach for the stars when it comes to goals, even when we know we may not actually be able to accomplish that goal, no matter how hard we try. By setting a goal that's realistic, you are really setting yourself up for success. If you reviewing your goals at the end of the year and you realize you haven't accomplished or completed a single resolution, maybe it's not that you haven't tried but your goals were too big for a single year. Instead of "I am going to increase my income by 100k this year," your goal could be "I will increase my income by 40% by the end of the year through a mix of my full-time salary, freelance clients, my website, my Etsy shop and any new income sources I create this year."
A simple and realistic goal is great but if you don't set due dates or check-in dates you risk putting it off for another day and procrastinating so long that you're unable to complete your goal at all! As part of my resolutions and goal setting I like to make yearly goals and then break them up into smaller chunks or milestones and write them down in my planner or in a notebook. That means they could be monthly goals or quarterly milestones depending on how big the overall resolution is. I find that this makes the big scary things a little easier to make actionable and realistic. If I'm breaking down a large goal into smaller parts and even those pieces seem too complicated or unrealistic, I know I need to go back and make some changes to the main resolution.
And that's it! I find that making S.M.A.R.T. goals drastically increases the likelihood that I actually achieve my yearly resolutions.
Have you tried setting goals that are S.M.A.R.T.? How did it work for you?