S. M. A. R. T. E. R. GOALS

A Key Approach to setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals

Planning ahead can make your life easier. Part of planning, includes setting goals, which helps accomplish meaningful tasks despite obstacles. It can be used by youth, adults, for personal development and in our careers. A method favored by many is S.M.A.R.T.E.R. It offers a sense of direction, amplifies motivation, provides a clear focus, and clarifies the importance. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, Evaluate and Readjust. With these criteria, achieving goals becomes more attainable.

Within the criteria, each involves:

  • Specific: clearly defined
  • Measurable: ways to measure progress
  • Achievable: Not beyond means and actually able to attain
  • Realistic: Relevant to circumstances and within reach
  • Timely: Having a start and end date, timeline of events
  • Evaluate: Consider how the process went and obstacles met
  • Readjust: What changes need to be made

Being Specific

Clarifying details as much as possible gets to the point of your objective. Some questions to contemplate include:

  1. Who? Who is involved in this goal?
  2. What? What do I want to achieve?
  3. Where? Where is this goal to be accomplished?
  4. When? When do I want to accomplish this goal?
  5. Why? Why do I want to reach this goal?

An example would be, “I want to eat healthier.” A more specific goal would be, “I am going to have at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Being Measurable 

Having criteria allow for progress to be tracked. A few questions to consider include:

  1. How many or how much?
  2. How do I know if I have reached my goal?
  3. What is the indicator of progress?

Using the example above, the number of servings to aim for daily is 5. I can keep track of the  daily number of servings over the course of a week. In doing so, I hope to notice a trend of healthier food choices replacing undesired foods.

Being Achievable

The goal in itself should be challenging and attainable. Ways to make progress with goals include asking:

  1. Do I have the resources and/or capabilities to reach this goal? If not clarify what is missing.
  2. Has anyone else reached similar goals?

Knowing that I have produce available to consume will help achieve the goal. Being capable of planning meals will also support actual consumption. Surrounding myself with other people who also consume fruits and vegetables will make the environment more friendly.

Being Realistic

Resources and time can be determining factors for a goal being successful or not. Having the mindset whether a goal can be accomplished is also very necessary? Another component is relevancy. Is this goal applicable to you?

Think about these questions:

  1. Is the goal within reach?
  2. Is there sufficient time and resources?
  3. Am I able to commit to achieving the goal?

I may not be used to consuming at least 5 servings per day. Change can be hard! Knowing why  I want to commit to this goal will help make consuming fruits and vegetables more than undesirable foods.

Being Timely

A sense of urgency is created when a timeline of boundaries is put in place. When is this goal to begin and end are very important to keep restraints. What milestones need to be in place for progress to occur?

Be able to answer:

  1. When do you want the goal achieved?
  2. When will you start?

I want to try this goal for a week. Starting when you are ready may not always be the most logical start time. Learning from mistakes along the process will help us correct behavior. It can be easy to make excuses why positive behavior doesn’t change. Realizing obstacles provides an opportunity for adjustments.

Being Evaluated

After the time period has finished for each goal and evaluation process helps identify the pros and cons of the experience.

  1. What obstacles did I meet?
  2. How often was I successfully?
  3. Was the timeline reasonable?
  4. Am I still interested in this goal?

If you choose to modify the goal, what would you do differently. What worked and what didn’t? I’m confident I can consume 5 servings per day but noticed my plans changed on a certain day unexpectedly. Having backup alternatives is a helpful strategy.

Being Readjusted

Now we can make adjustments. Here we decide if we want to continue or not with the goal.

  1. How can I manage goal into smaller steps?
  2. Do I need more reminders, resources or support to reach goals?
  3. How can I reward myself?

So adjusting this goal to 6 servings per day of fruits and vegetables for another week would be a positive behavior change.

A recap of the given example, Specific (consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily), Measurable (daily over the week), Achievable (I will shop for needed produce to be sure I have the needed resources), Realistic (it will be challenging coordinating daily meals but mentally I know I can do it), Timely (over the next week), Evaluation (consider obstacles), and Readjust (can improvements be made).

Frequently, when we think of goals, we are too quick in thinking we can just do it and reach an end goal. Often this lack of preparation sets us up for failure. Even being too general or unrealistic will just complicate the situation. Using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. method defines the situation, creates a sense of direction, and helps for better organization to reach the goal.

SMARTER goal setting is important! Write out a new plan to keep making progress. This process is not all or nothing. Often we make a goal too complex at first and need to break it down smaller. We don’t want to be overwhelmed, frustration often leads to giving up all together. Rely on support to keep yourself committed. Don’t forget to reward yourself for success. It’s a great accomplishment to reach goals no matter how small. Practice and progress makes for positive change. Use the worksheet to develop goals for yourself. Try it on a weekly time period so you can adjust more frequently and get the feel of how the process works.

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