SMART or- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound, is a way of focusing your efforts and using your time wisely to achieve whatever it is you hope to achieve, be it improving performance, nailing exams or making improvements to your general health and wellbeing.
- S – Specific – A goal should be clear, simple and specific, allowing you to focus your efforts.
- M- Measurable – Once you have a specific goal you will need make sure you can track the progress of your work.
- A- Achievable- Is your goal realistic, have you set your goal to high? If your goal is to run a marathon in a month having never run one before is an example of an unachievable goal
- R- Relevant- Is the goal relevant to you, is it important to you or is it a goal that has been set for you by others
- T- Time Bound- Put an end date on your goal. You are more likely to accomplish your goal when working within a specific time frame
If you are currently working towards a fitness goal or a study goal, SMART might be a great way to focus your efforts and help you achieve your goals. Let’s take a deeper look into what it means to have SMART goals.
We have mentioned that ‘specific’ means having a clear goal, but what does clear mean? Most people’s motivation when hitting the gym is to ‘get fit’, this is a broad term and not specific enough. Instead, think of what it is that will make you fit. Is it “I want to lose body fat”, or “I want to build muscle”. These are more specific goals. If you are a student, your goal might be to “study hard”. A nice ambition but again too broad, what do you mean by study hard? Be more specific and the goal becomes “I plan to study hard to get a certain grade or to pass my assessment”.
Now you have your specific goal you can turn to how you will measure your work and determine whether you have accomplished your goal. Take losing weight, this is relatively easy to measure; you want to lose X number of kilograms. When it comes to your study, how do you measure “studying hard”? Perhaps “I will study X hours per week” is your measure or “I will practice delivering sessions with X number of friends and family ahead of assessment day”. These are more clearly trackable and hence measurable.
You have your specific goals and you have your means of measuring your success, but are your goals achievable. A big mistake when setting goals is to set them so high you make them unattainable. Take weight loss, is the amount you intend to lose in the time you have set manageable and healthy? The same with study or session practice, do you have enough spare hours to do that additional study, are your friends and family readily available to help you out? Have ambitious goals, just make sure they are safe and attainable.
Is this a change you want to make or one someone thinks you should make? Are you motivated by your own desire to do well and to achieve, or are you being bullied/peer pressured into making changes? If it’s the former, you have relevant goals. If it’s the latter, you are setting yourself up for an almighty failure because you didn’t set the terms. Think again and come back with goals you want to achieve.
Each of your goals, whatever they are, need to have a defined timeframe. If you want to put the hours of study in, your time frame would be shaped by when the assessment is, so “I want to study for 30hrs per week for the next 6 weeks before my assessment date” is a time bound goal. With weight loss, “I want to lose 5kg in 12 weeks” is a time bound and safe goal.
SMART goal setting is not the only way to create and then stick to goals, but it is a very efficient way to reach your end result and most importantly stick at it.