Jul 19, 2022 | Mindset

I’m sure everyone’s heard about SMART goals, but I’m here to break down what they really are, why they are important, and how to go about creating them in order to set yourself up for success!

Goals are a great way to keep you on track in what you’re trying to achieve in your life.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland.

I have definitely felt the affects of not having goals at various points in my life. When I don’t have goals I’m working towards, I tend to feel a bit scattered, unfocused, and unsure of what to do next, sometimes jumping from task to task not really knowing which order to complete them. On the contrary, when I have goals that I have set to achieve, I feel more organised, focused, motivated, disciplined and confident in my next steps.

I’m sure everyone’s heard about SMART goals, but I’m here to break down what they really are, why they are important, and how to go about creating them in order to set yourself up for success!

Let’s start with SMART. No, I’m not shouting, SMART is in capitals because it’s an acronym which stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound

NOTE: The R can also stand for ‘Realistic’, but I think that’s covered by the A for achievable, and that relevant is more… relevant.

Each of these words needs to be represented in your goals in order for it to be considered a SMART goal.

If your goal is too general or broad, it can be difficult to measure or know whether or not you’ve actually achieved it. When we’re talking specifics, we need to ensure we’re articulating exactly what the outcome of the goal is, and how (briefly) you’re going to achieve it.

If your goal is too wild/out there or unrealistic, it can be difficult to actually achieve it and can result in disappointment if you don’t quite get there.

If there is no timeframe on your goal, it can become too generic and won’t allow us the focus we need to put our minds to achieving it. We can have different goals with different timeframes too. I like to be working towards some long-term, medium-term and short-term goals at all times. My long-term goals will read quite different to my short-term goals, but my short-term goals should be the stepping stones towards achieving my longterm goals. You can have your own standard for what is long, medium and short-term, but for me, I would define them as:

Short-term: Around 1-4 weeks in the future

Medium-term: Around 3-6 months in the future

Long-term: Around 1 year + in the future

If we only have long-term goals, it can be hard to stay focused on the small steps that you need to take to achieve the bigger goals. It can also be quite disheartening to feel like you’re very rarely actually achieving any of your goals. Breaking your bigger goals into smaller bite-sized goals makes the bigger goal seem less daunting and gives a clear path for how to achieve it.

Having that bigger overarching goal can help keep you focused in everyday life. If you have to make a decision, you can do it based on the longterm goal, i.e. which decision option is going to be most in line with achieving my long-term goal?

Example Goal 1:

To lose weight.

This is not a SMART goal. To this, I would ask:

  • How much weight do you aim to lose?
  • By when are you aiming to lose the weight?
  • How do you intend to lose the weight?
  • Why do you want to lose the weight?

SMART Example Goal 1:

To lose 5kg of bodyweight through a healthy diet and exercise in 3 months so I can feel confident in my bikini during my holiday to Hawaii.

As you can see, example goal 1 was not specific, it wouldn’t have helped to keep me focused on it because there was no timeframe around it, it didn’t articulate how I was going to do it, and didn’t give me a good reason why. The revised example goal 1 was very specific, measurable and time bound.

The SMART example goal 1 would in my opinion would be a medium-term goal. Some associated short-term goals could be:

  • To cook 80% of my meals at home every week
  • To go for 1 x 30min walk every day

These short-term goals become the small habit changes you start to make, which lead to achieving the medium and then long-term goals. We’ll cover off on habits in a bit more detail in another blog post.

Example Goal 2:

To get six-pack abs through a healthy diet and exercise before Christmas.

Assuming this is an achievable goal for the person writing it, this is not quite a SMART goal yet. To this I would ask:

  • Why do you want this?

SMART Example Goal 2:

To get six-pack abs before Christmas so I look great for the firefighter calendar photoshoot I’ve got planned.

The reason I use the R for ‘Relevant’ in the acronym SMART is because if a goal isn’t meaningful for you, you will have a much lower chance of achieving it. You need to understand the reasons WHY you want to achieve something, so anytime your willpower is tested, you have that clear reason WHY you’re doing something to keep you on track and focused on achieving your goal. A step further than this is to ask yourself whether this goal you’re setting is meaningful, in line with your other goals, and going to have a positive impact on you, the people around you and the world at large!

So next time you’re doing your goal-setting, try to set some short, medium and long-term SMART goals. Let me know how you go.