When you decide to master a new habit, it’s a good first step. I’m sure you realize it’s a process that requires you to set a goal, then make a plan and it won’t happen instantly like turning on a light switch.
Decide Where You’re Going
When you approach a goal, it’s wise to sit down and map a strategy before you start trying to implement the steps, so you don’t waste time or energy.
Depending on the size of your goal, setting smaller goals will help you eat that elephant “one bite at a time” rather than saying you’re going to lose 20 pounds in five days, for example, and it’s the best way to build a solid foundation for reaching your goal.
If you’re an overwhelmed small business owner, it’s sometimes hard to focus.
Going from swamped and frazzled to calm and invigorated doesn’t happen overnight, but once you activate the plan to find more balance, your intentional effort can bring big rewards. SMART goals give you a simple framework to tackle that problem one bite at a time because it’s one step followed by another in an orderly sequence to reach the finish line.
What are the steps to get you from A to C? Let’s talk about that now.
Start by organizing your thoughts, and tools (e.g., a pen and paper, note-taking or mind-mapping application, etc.). Being prepared to make your plan for getting from point A to point B gets simple and less frustrating.
The SMART goals approach is well-known and easy to understand. Each letter of this acronym helps you focus on a different area, as you set your goal and map out how to reach it. I’ll explain each aspect in a moment, but the letters of SMART goals mean your goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely.
Let’s take a closer look at each aspect of setting your goal.
S means specific, which requires you to describe your goal clearly. You can’t be vague when you’re following the SMART goals approach. The language must convey your goal, why you want to achieve it, and how you’re going to reach it. Remember, a detailed description of the goal makes it clear in your mind and increases your odds of meeting it. The better you do this part the higher your chances are of being successful.
M is for measurable, which means it should be obvious that you have achieved your goal. If there’s no way to evaluate your goal, then a crucial piece is missing and you won’t know if you’ve reached it. An example of a measurable goal is: “I want to add 100 dollars per month of income to my business by serving two more clients.”
A has a few similar words to describe it such as attainable, in addition to being actionable, or achievable. During your planning, you will list the action steps you’ll follow every day so you can arrive at your completed goal. Goals should also be achievable or you’ll get discouraged and stop trying. Do your best to estimate the time and effort required to get there with consistent effort. With practice, you will get better at doing this part.
Does It Make Sense
R – This can stand for either realistic or relevant. No matter which word you choose both are applicable for setting goals. When I first learned about the concept of SMART goals, realistic was the term most often used to describe the “R” part of the formula. If you want to achieve a goal, it’s crucial to focus on one that’s realistic. Otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for failure before you get started. If you target relevant instead keep in mind what your life’s vision is and how this goal fits into that vision.
Set a Deadline
T – This uses several terms to describe it. The two I’ve seen most often for the “T” in the SMART acronym are time-bound or timely. All aspects of goal setting are important. Remember though, if the other pieces are set, but you neglect to commit to a firm date to reach it, you’ve wasted your time. Setting a time limit is the only way to objectively track what’s happening. Then you can make the needed adjustments to increase your chances of achieving that goal.
When you sit down to create your goal using the SMART goals formula, remember to establish a process to reach it. Mastering a new habit begins with setting a goal that you’ll continue to build on and strengthen. Soon it’ll become a normal part of your routine. SMART goals are ones you set to enable you to follow through and know when you’ve met them.
Setting goals doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or scary idea. Finding a process for creating your plan can remove the pressure of where to start. Once you establish a step-by-step map to follow it’s no longer overwhelming. Using the SMART goals formula gives you a foundation to goal setting that’s in line with tackling that problem, issue, etc. one bite at a time.
Use your experiences of setting and implementing each goal to help you refine the process as you execute your plan. Evaluate what you can tweak in your action plan and use the slight adjustment with your subsequent goals. As long as you follow your plan you’re on your way!
Send me a note to let me know how using the SMART goal plan approach works for you.