Setting SMART Goals
This time of year everyone is talking about their New Year’s resolutions and trying to maintain a New-Year-New-Me attitude. While it is important to set goals for ourselves and to strive to be better with each passing year, we must also know how to maintain our motivation [see our blog on motivation for some helpful hints] in order to meet our goals. This blog will teach you how to set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that can be used as a guideline for setting goals. Setting SMART goals will not only help you meet your new year’s resolutions, but will help in any area of your life you would like to see improvement.
S stands for specific. It is important to be specific in goal setting. For example, if my general goal is to spend more quality time with my children, making it specific may sound something like: I will spend time each day with each child doing an activity of their choosing. You can see that by making the goal more specific, it clarifies exactly what we are trying to achieve and keeps us from finding ways of justifying ourselves out of meeting the goal.
M stands for measureable. When making a goal measureable we include some type of number component. Using the previous example, we add in the measurement of a half hour to meet this criterion. The new goal could sound something like: I will spend a half hour each day with each child doing an activity of their choosing. Once we make a goal measureable it is easier to determine if we have fully met the goal. If we do not make it measureable how will we know for sure if it’s been met? Measurements can be done in time, weight, or amount, just to name a few.
A stands for attainable. It is important to come up with goals that are possible to meet. If my goal is to spend half an hour with each of my children and I have four children, then I would need two hours each night to meet my goal. If I work until 7 and the children go to bed at 8:30, someone will not be getting their quality time and I will not be meeting my goal. Some things to keep in mind when making a goal attainable include monetary resources, time requirements, and physical/emotional capabilities.
R stands for realistic. This is very much in line with making a goal attainable. It would not be realistic to assume that I could work overtime and also be able to spend two hours with each child individually every day. This would be an unrealistic goal.
T stands for time-bound. It is important that we include parameters to our goals as far as the amount of time we have to complete them. Using my original example of spending time with my children, I could create a goal that is time-bound by saying: I will spend half an hour after dinner and before bedtime with each child doing an activity of their choosing. This gives me a specific time that I’m allotted to complete this goal (after dinner and before bed), and gives me less of a chance to find loopholes to keep me from completing my goal.
You can see that my original goal—spending more quality time with my children—is still the basis of my new SMART goal, however, now it is specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. I will spend half an hour with each child after dinner and before bedtime doing an activity of their choosing is much easier to determine whether or not it has been met.
Maggie Futch, Intern