SMART Goals: Goal Setting Made Easy

Summary: How is that New Year's Resolution going? 88% of them fail. Increase your odds with SMART goals (Tweet This!)

With the first few weeks of the new year over, most of us have put our nose to the grindstone. (Who thought of that saying? Sounds painful!) It's a good time to ask: how are your New Year Resolutions going? If you are like many, they are already starting to fade away. In fact, statistically, around 88% of you are going to fail at your New Year Resolution. If you are like me, you may have stumbled onto the road of failure by accident. By this time, I had hoped to have 60 articles completed for this website. I am lucky if I have a third of that. What I do have is about 250 articles outlined with a ton of research. That doesn't count for much, unless I get to writing them.

This website isn't about dwelling on the past. We aim to be better than that. How can we do that? According to the article, we should focus on being self-aware. We know what our problem is and now we know it is going to be difficult to tackle it. It turns out that people have limited willpower. When we are presented with a few mental distractions we don't have the willpower to concentrate on our goal. One way to limit the mental distractions is to practice a lot of the productivity tips we'll cover here over time.

While that 12% success rate sure seems daunting, another study showed that it can be improved upon. Men are 22% more successful when they engage in goal setting or kept an eye on the prize. If my goal is to save up enough money for a new car, I would be best served by setting up a financial plan for how much I'll need and putting a putting a picture of the car on the refrigerator. Women are 10% more likely to succeed when they have the support of their family or friends.

I'm not going into how to go about keeping your eye on the prize here. We'll cover staying motivated in other articles. I trust you can figure out the best way to do that. At the end of the article, I'll give you a tip on how to bring in the support of family and friends. Before we get to that though, we'll cover goal setting. It is one of those things that make you want to scream, "Why didn't they teach me this in school?" One of the best ways to set a goal is with SMART Goals.

Setting Goals the SMART Way


Picture of Taylor Lautner = wrote this originally in 2010

Some of you have heard about SMART goals before. For those who aren't familiar with the term it is simply a mnemonic device to remember a set of steps crucial in setting goals. There is some debate about what SMART stands for, but it usually goes something like:

  • Specific - What is the goal? You don't want to set a broad goal such as "be healthier in the new year." You want a better goal such as "lose weight this year."
  • Measurable - My goal above of losing weight this year, was specific, but it wasn't very measurable. A measurable goal may be to lose 25 pounds by the end of December.
  • Attainable - Is my goal reasonable? I think losing 25 by the end of December is quite attainable (depending on how much they currently weigh). However, if my goal were to have Taylor Lautner's abs, I may find that the exercise time necessary doesn't fit with my other priorities. Perhaps after the 25 pounds weight loss, Mr. Lautner's abs becomes my next goal.
  • Relevant - Does the goal matter to you? Is it something that's really worth working for? I think for many people losing weight is a relevant goal. If you are already in a healthy range, your effort may be best spent elsewhere.
  • Time-bound - When do you expect to reach this goal? Our goal of losing 25 pounds by December is indeed time-bound, so it technically passes the test. However, I would suggest smaller goals like losing 4 pounds by the end of the month. (Yes that should sound familiar.)

That gives us a good template for goal setting. However, let's get a little greedy and see if we can do a little better. Some people suggest that you can make your goals even SMARTER.

Setting Goals the SMARTER Way

You can take a SMART goal and make it SMARTER by adding a couple more steps.

  • Exciting - You should be excited by your goal. I've found that the first step to success in almost anything is being excited about doing it. Losing 25 pounds may not sound all that exciting. I imagine that's why many people fail to lose weight. However, many people get excited to play tennis or going for a hike. Those are a couple of ways to make losing 25 pounds a bit more exciting.
  • Recorded - The idea here is that you record your progress as you go along. This provides you with great feedback. If you are falling a bit off track and are recording your progress, you'll be able to make the necessary adjustments.

Now it's your turn, what do you to master the art of setting and attaining goals?

Don't Forget the Motivation

Remember that tip that I promised above? Here it is:

Motivate yourself with a commitment contract for better results:

It's great to have goals, but often the biggest barrier is having motivation to get them accomplished. Some people are naturally motivated. Others need a little more help depending on the task. If you find yourself in the latter group, I highly recommend making a commitment contract.

This post involves:

Mind, Planning, Productivity

... and focuses on:

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