are you setting smart goals for the new year? or are you setting yourself up for failure without even realizing it? find out which camp you fall into and, of course, how to get into the right one!
what does SMART stand for?
SMART is an acronym to help you stop setting dumb goals that don’t even matter and that will just make you feel worse about yourself. SMART reminds you to instead set clear and achievable goals that will actually move you closer to success. here’s what SMART stands for:
to further explain the concept, i’m going to use a super common new year’s resolution that MAKES ME CRINGE RIGHT DOWN TO MY BONES every time i see or hear it: “get healthy.”
why “get healthy” is a dumb goal:
don’t get me wrong. your intention is not dumb! and you yourself are not dumb by any means. but the goal itself is pretty dumb. in other words, it’s not SMART. here’s why.
1. it’s too vague.
first, it’s so vague! smart goals must be specific. what does “get healthy” even mean? does it mean to lose weight? or lower your cholesterol? do you want to walk up two flights of stairs to your classroom without losing your breath? or run an eight-minute mile? year after year after year i see instagram posts and facebook statuses and even entire youtube videos dedicated to “getting healthy.” no wonder these people fail! they don’t even know what they’re failing at! so, get more specific if you want success.
2. it’s not measurable.
next, with a goal as vague as “get healthy,” you can’t track your success and see if you’re getting close. it’s not measurable. so, let’s say you specified your goal to “run a 5K.” that’s definitely more specific, and it’s measurable too. you know how long a 5K is, so you can easily tell if you’ve met the goal or not. you know exactly when to celebrate your triumph! with a vague goal like “get healthy” or even “lose weight”–which is slightly more specific but still not measurable–you never know when to give yourself a gold star. “lose 15 pounds,” on the other hand, is specific AND measurable.
same thing goes for goals in other categories as well. “gain more blog readers” is specific AND measurable technically, but why not combine the two and have a specific metric to meet? that’s even better.
3. it could be unrealistic, depending on what you have in mind.
third, is your goal achievable? in other words, is it realistic for you to, say, run a 5K? for me, an utter non-runner who can’t see straight after half a mile of jogging, a 5K is a realistic new year’s resolution to work toward all year. a marathon, on the other hand, would be laughably absurd. it’s self-torture to set unattainable goals and then chastise and berate yourself for–unsurprisingly–failing to meet them.
let’s say you want to travel more. to get more specific, you may want to choose a specific destination to save and plan for, right? make sure you set your sights realistically. for me, for instance, a trip to europe might not be in the cards this coming year. but a road trip through the southwest or visiting family in new york certainly are.
4. is it even relevant? who said you were unhealthy?
i LOVE this next one, especially because we planner girls can be so darn ambitious. is your goal even relevant to you? this always makes me think of all those planner girls out there tracking their water intake because they wanted to buy some stickers that someone had so suddenly they were OBSESSED with water intake. who cares? did your doctor say your chronic dehydration causes all your splitting headaches? then WHO CARES ABOUT THE WATER INTAKE!? i know, i’m getting a little worked up over here about some hydration stickers, so let me conclude my point.
your time and effort are valuable. so always ask yourself WHY you are setting a goal in the first place. is it meaningful and relevant to your life? if not, don’t bother. life is too short.
5. you didn’t give yourself a deadline.
and last, but certainly not least, time yourself. success doesn’t come from kinda sorta working on the same goal for the rest of your life. if it’s a worthy goal that you seriously intend to achieve, set a deadline and hold yourself to it! register for the 5K six months from now so that you have a clear deadline to achieve that particular fitness goal.
set aside the health example and consider another super popular aspiration: “save more money.” that can take your whole life to achieve–or not achieve. but “save $5,000 by dec. 1st to add to our home down payment fund”? now that’s SMART!