Do you think SMART goal setting is an effective method for setting goals?
Whether you use SMART goal setting or another method, setting goals is absolutely crucial to achieving long-term success in any area of life. Successful people, millionaires, and anyone doing anything impactful are all goal achievers. Without goals, it’s easy to stumble through life and not really accomplish anything. Goals will help you stay motivated when things inevitably get tough in life.
One the most common ways we’ve been taught to set goals is the SMART golf setting method. But is this method still the best way to set and achieve your goals?
There is a ton of value to SMART goal setting method but there are a few tweaks you can do to make this method even more effective.
While the SMART goal setting method is still very practical you might be wondering, “Do I really need to set goals?”
It’s easy to forget that your brain is a supercomputer and with the right help can help you achieve almost anything. The more psychology books I read the more evident it is that your brain needs goals to feel alive. Here’s how to tweak SMART goal setting method and start achieving your goals.
What is Smart Goal Setting?
In case you forgot, the acronym for SMART goals is:
Smart Goals Definition:
This part of the acronym I fully agree with. Instead of saying “I want to have a better body” or “I want to earn more money” you need to have specific metrics. There can’t be grey areas in SMART goal setting. Your brain needs your goals to be as specific and clear as possible. As the best-selling author, Jack Canfield said, “Vague goals produce vague results.”
The second part of SMART goal setting is to create measurable goals. You need to measure and track your goals in some way to know if you are making progress towards achieving them. As Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
This will allow you to have a big goal (i.e. Earn $10,000 from your side hustle) and chunk it down into small, tangible, bite-sized goals. You need to measure progress so you know when your goal is accomplished and can celebrate mini-victories along the way.
This is where I begin to question the SMART goal setting method. How do you know what is achievable and what isn’t? The problem is that most people set goals based on their past instead of their future.
When you set goals really dive into what is “achievable” before committing to your goal. You need to find a balance between achievable and impossible by setting challenging goals. If your goal is to earn $100,000 tomorrow that’s not likely achievable. But if you want to earn $100,000 in 6 months that might be challenging but still achievable.
The problem that people get into with SMART goal setting is that they set their goals too low, too achievable. Your goals need to be big. In fact, they need to be huge! Your goals should be so big they are almost scary to say out loud.
“Set a goal to achieve something that is so big, so exhilarating that it excites you and scares you at the same time. It must be a goal that is so appealing, so much in line with your spiritual core that you can’t get it out of your mind. If you do not get chills when you set a goal, you are not setting big enough goals.” — Bob Proctor
The Magic of Thinking Big
Again, you want to make your goals realistic but don’t be afraid to dream big. Because, even if you “fail” you will still go farther than people with small, “achievable” goals. For example, Tiger Woods’ main golf (and life) goal has always been to win the most major tournaments of all time. Since he first turned pro he always focused on winning 19 majors, one more than the 18 Jack Nicklaus won. While he is still in pursuit of that goal, he has already won 14 majors. Second only to Jack Nicklaus.
Would anyone think of Tiger Woods as a failure for only winning 14 major golf tournaments? Of course not, only one golfer in the history of the world has won more majors. But, if he set a goal of six majors and won all six would that feel better to achieve them? I’m guessing he’d take 14 over 6.
My point is, even if you “fail” toward a BIG goal you will still achieve more than achieving a small goal. Dare to dream big, not enough people set big goals and their lives suffer from it. For more reading on big goals be sure to check out “The Magic of Thinking Big.”
The fourth part of the SMART goal setting method is making your goals relevant. This means that your goals need to have a purpose and align with the rest of your life. If they aren’t relevant don’t waste your time on them.
Human beings need urgency. Have you ever noticed that whenever a deadline for work comes up you always find a way to get it done? Your goals are similar. They need a target date to give yourself a sense of urgency to complete them. Otherwise, it’s easy to procrastinate and not actively work toward them. Make sure your time frame is realistic to each goal.
Goal Setting Theory
Goal setting theory research has shown that people achieve substantially more who create goals than those who don’t.
As Maxwell Maltz said in the book Psycho-Cybernetics, “Your brain and nervous system constitute a goal-striving mechanism that operates automatically to achieve a certain goal. Very much as a self-aiming torpedo or missile seeks out its target and steers its way to it.”
When you select a goal and dedicate yourself to achieving it your brain will help. Like the example of the torpedo, as you move forward toward your goal you will make errors and course correct. Achieving big goals shouldn’t be easy.
They should make you work hard, learn new skills, and become a different person to achieve them. If not, you’re focusing too much on the “achievability” instead of challenging yourself.
SMART Goal Setting Examples
If you’re still not sure what a SMART goal is here are several SMART Goal examples to help clarify. SMART goal setting can apply to any area of your life; business, health, personal or sports. Don’t be afraid to create long-term and short-term goals as well.
Writing down your goals is one of the easiest ways to increase the likelihood of achieving your goals. Studies have shown that writing your goals down will give you a 56% chance of achieving your goals as opposed to just thinking about your goals.
Here are a few examples:
Goal: Earn $10,000 dollars with a side hustle in six months to save for a vacation.
- Specific – $10,000 dollars.
- Measurable – Yes, as it is a dollar amount. Numbers goals are crucial to ensure you can track the success.
- Achievable – Depending on the side hustle this is definitely doable and would average out to be $1,666 per month.
- Relevant: Yes, it will help you save enough for a trip of your dreams.
- Time-Bound: You have 180 days to complete the goal.
This is a great example of a SMART goal.
Goal: Lose 15 pounds for your summer vacation on June 1st.
- Specific – Lose 15 pounds.
- Measurable – Yes, as it is a specific number of pounds you want to lose.
- Achievable – Unless you are super skinny already this seems very achievable.
- Relevant: Yes, it will help you increase confidence and look better on your trip.
- Time-Bound: You have until June 1st to lose the weight.
Brian Tracy explains more about creating SMART goals in this helpful video.
How to Achieve Your SMART Goals
Once you learn how to write smart goals you are farther along that most people who have never written a goal down. Writing a goal down in your own handwriting has a powerful effect on your subconscious mind. It establishes in your mind that your goals are important and matter to you. Here are three ways to help you achieve your goals:
Get a Goal Partner
Workout buddies are for more than just making sure you don’t drop the weight on yourself. A goal partner can help you stay accountable and help you reach your goal faster as you won’t want to let another person down.
Share Your Goals
I fully believe you should share your goals with the world. Sharing your goals has a powerful effect on your mind and making them feel more real when you let others know. Plus, often times other people can help you achieve your goal faster. This could come in the form of introducing you to a mutual friend or additional resources that will help you.
Journal Your Goals
Each morning spend 5-10 minutes writing how it will feel when you achieve your goals. Describe in detail the feelings, smells, and other emotions that will be attached. Imagine how you will celebrate, who will be there, and what it will feel like after your hard work.
What Type of Goals Will You Set and Achieve?
If you’ve read this far I’m confident you will take massive action and achieve your goals. The SMART goal setting method is a great framework to start creating your goals but make sure to not get caught up in the achievability aspect.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. Your goals should be so big that others can’t even believe it. If not one is laughing at your goals you aren’t setting them high enough.
Remember, human beings are goal-seeking organisms. Challenge yourself to set big goals and achieve greatness!
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