Developing Smarter Goals

If you have been around the block as much as I have, you know that developing SMART goals may not be new to you. Even if you have not been, it could be a new concept. The concept of developing SMART goals anyway, we all think we make smarter goals. Sorry smart play on words there. I digress.

Is developing S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals new to you? Perhaps it is not, but a refresher is in order? Regardless, allow me to show you the SMARTER goal!

What is a SMARTER Goal?

Making a SMARTER goal helps you ensure that it’s not an unrealistic goal. SMARTER goals aren’t just a single word or title, but they also include some background. When we are developing a SMARTER goal, we’re building it in such a way as we can achieve it. Let’s break down a SMARTER goal into its component parts.

Specific: Your goal must be as specific as possible. The other letters of SMARTER will help you make it specific. Without a specific goal, you can get distracted, waste effort on tasks that do not really achieve what you want and make it difficult to define success.

Measurable: To know if you reached your goal, you must have some indication that it’s been accomplished. That might mean that you have a certain number of sales you want to make, create several sculptures, or lose weight. All of these have numbers involved or other factors that you can easily see progress on or create milestones toward your goals.

Attainable: The goal must be something that you can do. I can never be an astronaut. I am too old, and I must wear glasses. Some of us might have physical constraints that prevent us from reaching a particular goal. That does not mean I should abandon a goal of being involved in the space program, but I should set my sights on something that challenges me, and I will not run into an insurmountable obstacle. You might need to do a little research on your goal first.

Relevant: In reviewing your goal, is it relevant to the betterment of your life? That is what we are here for of course. To get more satisfaction and enjoyment from our lives. Will taking on a new career really give you that? Have you spoken to others doing this work; how are they happy or not happy? How do they find life satisfaction in this career? If you are learning a new skill or hobby, will you be able to use it to bring you more joy and/or satisfaction?

Time-bound: The last quality of your goal needs to be that it should have a completion date. When do you expect to have met the other criteria of this goal? This is important because goals without end are not really goals at all. They are a lifestyle. The purpose of the goal is to create an accomplishment. You are committing to yourself a course of action to make your life better in a measurable and meaningful way. This needs to have a date. Of course, life happens, and that date may have to change, but you will have to hold yourself to account. I find milestones (or mini goals within your SMARTER goal) a great way to measure progress and make sure you are staying on target.

Evaluate: This is the first action-oriented part of your goal. This is the Evaluation of your progress as you work to achieve your goal. As you are writing out your goal, add a commitment to regularly check in, and evaluate your progress. Are you meeting the timeline? Has your goal been forced to change since you created it? There could be factors outside your control that require you to change your goal. This is the time to review your goal and see where you’re at. If you did have to change something, then the next step will help with that.

Reset: After you’ve done your regular evaluation of your goal, you may find there’s adjustments to be made. Goals aren’t always fixed and unchanging. The journey to make change requires learning, and learning can bring you information you never knew before. If you could have had the information when you created your goal, you might not need the evaluation. On the other hand, you might not need the goal! You’ll want to do this reset step every time you do your evaluation.

Developing SMARTER Goals

Now that we have a definition out of the way, we can dive into the process of developing SMARTER goals. I like to start with the simplest explanation at first. So, “Get a job in advertising”, is a simple start. The next step is to run down the list and see about creating this goal.

It’s pretty specific but let’s perhaps look into which firm you’d like to work for. There’s many to choose from so some research is appropriate. Being this specific also helps guide us to next steps, like finding former or current employees to network with.

A small target with a dart in it depicting smarter goals

Getting the job is measurable, so you can easily determine your success. You may have some marketing experience and know more than a bit about advertising, so it seems attainable. Now you ask yourself if it’s relevant. Is it a job that helps you achieve other goals that a job provides? Will you be able to enjoy the standard of living you want? Can you still afford your house? Can you continue to contribute to a retirement?

The next one is how can you give yourself a reasonable timeframe to accomplish this? It will probably take more than a month. You may not really know what the hiring cycle typically is, or if hiring is seasonal, so those don’t help. This might lead me to why you’re leaving a current position, or if you don’t have work right now, how long can you afford to spend on this goal.

The last step is to commit to regularly evaluating your goal to ensure it’s still valid and meeting your objectives. Many things can happen as you proceed through the tasks to achieve your goal. As you recognize these changes, you’ll want to reset the other qualities of your goal.

Making SMARTER Choices

Now that you have a goal and you’ve checked off all the boxes, you have to address the hard part. Staying on task. By making a SMARTER goal, you’ve already started thinking about some work that you’ll need to do to make it real.

You now should spend some time taking those points and start thinking about all the steps you’ll need to accomplish. Breaking a goal down into smaller steps helps make the overall goal less intimidating. Some folks will become overwhelmed without a plan, so take the time to make one.

image shows a calendar with letters spelling plan - planning the date making smarter goals

Once you get a plan, you need to check in with yourself. If you have an accountability partner, group, or coach, you might find check-ins even easier.  Getting feedback on your challenges, stumbles, and wins help you right along the way. We can’t manage it all ourselves.

Track your progress in a journal or other way you can use to look back on your goal. You might find there is always some things you’ll like to review after you’ve finished that could help for future goals. There’s always a future goal – making them SMARTER means you’ll have SMARTER results to review!

I hope you enjoyed my post about Developing SMARTER Goals. Have you used the SMARTER system of goal development before? Is there something that really worked for you? I’d love to hear about it! Thank you for reading!

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