(I can almost guarantee that I know what voice you read the title in…)
Ready to begin the journey into goal setting, tracking, and achievement? I’ve been itching to, and as a way to hold myself accountable, I’ll be blogging my progress as I go. But that’s not the only reason I’ll be posting here – I also know how daunting it can be to go through the whole S.M.A.R.T. goal process if you’ve never done it before, and this blog will function as a “how-to” for those of you who fall into that category.
I’ve heard S.M.A.R.T. defined a few different ways over the years, but it essentially boils down to the same concepts. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for:
- Specific – Make sure your goal is well-defined.
- Measurable – You have to have some way to track your goal, or else you won’t know when you’re making progress!
- Attainable – Your goal has to be something that is possible for you to achieve.
- Reasonable – Even if your goal is attainable, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is reasonable. For example, losing 50 pounds is attainable, but doing so in 3 weeks is not reasonable.
- Time-bound – You need to have a target date for your goal. If you don’t set a deadline, your brain will subconsciously put the project on the back burner because it isn’t urgent enough.
(If you’d like a more in-depth history of S.M.A.R.T. goals, check out this article. It’s a quick and interesting read.)
To help me reach my goals, I add two additional dimensions onto the goal-setting process: action steps, and rewards.
Action steps are essentially your “Plan for Success” – the little things you’ll do to help structure your progress. For example, if your goal is to run a 10K after 2 months of training, you could have action steps like, “Run at least 5K every other day for a month.” These steps don’t have to be huge, as long as they help move you toward your goals.
I added the reward step to my goal-setting process after I joined the Nerd Fitness Academy. NF uses what they call “loot” to help people learn to incentivise goal setting and tracking. Personally, I’m not the most reward-oriented individual, but it is a useful tool to have in your kit. It’s important to scale the rewards to match the significance of the goal – a big reward for a challenging, long-term goal and a smaller prize for a smaller goal.
What does this actually look like?
Now that you’ve got the basic terminology down, let’s take a look at what this looks like in real life. I’m including pictures of my own, actual journal to help illustrate the process.
Now I know that a lot of you are going to look at these and think, “Wow, this doesn’t look Pinterest-y at all. They kind of look…messy.”
And they are messy, sometimes. There are places I’ve crossed things out or – perhaps – misspelled something. But you know what else is messy? The whole process of success. You will make mistakes, or take a couple of steps back in terms of progress, or decide that your goal isn’t what you thought it would be, and that’s ok. The path may be long and winding, but as long as you keep moving, you’ll get there.
Without further ado…
I sat down with my trusty mug of golden milk and my journal and started at the top – my big goals.
I’ve got three major challenges I’d like to tackle this year. For those of you who have read previous posts, you’ll know that one of those is writing – and publishing – my second novel. Here’s what I wrote for my big writing goal:
As a teacher, my pay is…less than optimal. I’ve been looking into the experiences of Jason Bond and Kyle Dennis, and I plan to start swing trading to help make ends meet. Thus, my second big goal:
Notice how there isn’t a reward for this one yet. I haven’t thought of something that would be appropriate, so I’ll come back to that later.
My health is one of my top priorities, and I have to wear a bridesmaid’s dress this fall. This leads to my third big goal:
Now it’s time to break each goal down into manageable smaller goals for the month. Each smaller goal needs to play into the larger goal, but can be much more specific and much more targeted. Here’s my April goals:
So what now?
Now comes the actual work. Stay tuned as I go through the logging and tracking process, and as I share out results.
“I want in!”
If you want to follow along with your own goals, check out the previous post to get started.
Feel free to share out your goals in the comments for (positive) feedback and support!