Achieving S.M.A.R.T. Goals

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By Jason Pasquet

Good plans need good goals. It’s just that simple and straight forward. Yet goal setting will remain abstract when not given the proper attention and direction. Perhaps you really want to save enough money for the family boat vacation this summer. Or you may want to achieve and maintain a certain ideal weight. Whatever it may be, it’s a good start. Now, with a goal in mind, you cannot just hope that it will be realized with little effort. You can sow the seed in the earth of the mind, but when does it ever sprout on its own? Not with just a little water here and there, or maybe some sun and occasional fertilizer and weeding. Only with the right amount of attention and care can a goal, like a plant, ever be nourished and realized to full bloom.

If goal setting has been difficult, which is true for most of us, try out S.M.A.R.T. goal setting by Paul J. Meyer in his book Attitude is Everything! It is a very beneficial aid to a having a fresh new perspective on the goal-planning process. It may also change your life. So take out your planner and a pen, and let’s go into it.

S.M.A.R.T is the acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant/Realistic, and Timed. These terms will be the fundamental outline for the goal or goals you want to accomplish. Write these terms in order, going down the page, while leaving some spaces to write on.

Specific– There will be no more ambiguity. No more vague ideas. Find out specifically what you want and write a clear, concise statement of whatever it is you are aspiring to achieve. This is the “what” question concerning the goal. Now ask yourself the questions of: Where? Why? Who? Which? “Where” includes the place(s). “Why” are the various reasons for doing so. “Who” includes you and any others involved. And “Which” involves the resources and requirements you know are necessary. Take your time to answer these questions. They will help you to understand the rest of the S.M.A.R.T. acronym.

Measurable– How will you know that you have reached your goal? What does the outcome have to be? For example, I will know that I have taken the first step to overcoming my fear of public speaking, by talking to a group of my friends for 5 minutes straight on some potential hazards to the environment. This is was my first measurable step. Then you can design more specific goals that are measurable to help keep track of your progress. Ask yourself the right “how” questions to understand your desired outcome.

Attainable– Enquire on the practicality of the goal. Ask yourself which skills and capabilities would be necessary for its accomplishment–the “how to do” questions that will give you a reasonable understanding of how to go about putting them into action. This helps to know what resources are important to you for the achievement. And also give feedback on if it is reasonable and within your means.

Relevant/Realistic– Does the goal fit in with what is important to you? Is it the right time to start this goal? Investigate if the goal is relevant and in line with your priorities.

Timed– Set a specific time and date for the attainment. When would you like to see this goal realized? Would you like to measure the time in intervals? It’s up to you as to how you’d like to schedule the time limit.

Hopefully these S.M.A.R.T. tips will bring you closer to achieving your goals!

Jason Pasquet is a Customer Service Specialist for Howard County Library System. He is aspiring in the fields of psychology, life-coaching, NLP therapy, and counseling, and he enjoys a variety of books on philosophy/ethics and takes immense joy in learning new things.