SMART goal setting

In 2016 I began writing down goals. I completed them, felt great and decided to make a list for 2017 as well. In 2016 I didn’t do a proper job of setting goals for myself. I made mistakes – mistakes that you should avoid.
If you came from the other post that guided you here, you already know what my goals for 2016 entailed. If not, I’ll post the picture once again here.

My goals for 2016.

Even though I celebrated my achievement of my goals, it should be noticed that not all my goals were following the SMART principle. Though I don’t discard my goal of trying to “Work on getting the best out in people. This is how you win”, I see now that that is neither achievable, measurable or specific. It’s a nice goal, don’t get me wrong – and I tried my best to strive for it, but based solely on that sentence I would never be able to tick it off as being achieved. It’s more like a work in progress. And it should be. I mean, it’s good in general, but it sucks and has no place on a goal paper like this one. Realizing this in the end of 2016, I realized that I had to search elsewhere to find a solution for how I should approach 2017. There is a million different ways, but the easiest (in my opinion) is to follow the SMART principle.

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound

Specific means that the goal that you set yourself should be clear. No fuzz and no misunderstanding – basically eliminating the possibility of you 6 months down the road look at the goal again and perceive it differently. “Squat 140kg before 2017” is specific. You can’t misunderstand that.

Measurable means that you should be able to track your progress, which in turn helps you keep yourself motivated and focused on the goal. “Read 12 books in 2016” is quite measurable. “Be in control of my mind and thoughts” is not that measurable. Again, it is a good thing to try and achieve, but you can never tick that off – I didn’t state any success criteria, and because of that it is not measurable. I will never know when I’ve accomplished the goal, so I can never tick it off with good conscience.

Achievable refers to the fact that you should look at yourself and be honest with yourself when you sit down and write your goals. They should be achievable. It should stretch your abilities, but it still remain possible for you. Realistic is the proper term. Given the fact that I had a student worker job, saving up 45000kr (7000$) was achievable for me. Had I been an American student with student debt above both ears, that would not have been achievable. Given the fact that I could deadlift 165 before I sat down to write my goals, being able to a achieve a 180kg deadlift seemed achievable.
Be careful of striving toward goals such as “Getting that promotion”, since that is constrained by other factors that you cannot control. It is outside your sphere – at least to some degree – so to speak. 

Relevant goals should be goals that are worthwhile and fits into your overall timing. In other words, the goal might be relevant, but maybe the timing isn’t. Only you can answer whether this is true. If all you want to achieve in your life right now is to collect 500 collectors edition LEGO boxes, then you have to be able – in your heart of hearts – to state and mean that the goal is relevant. If it is, then have at it. BUT If you got a second baby on the way and a wife (let’s be honest, only men would ever consider collecting 500 LEGO boxes) that is without a job and everybody around you are stressed and you’re just trying to keep yourself sane in this whole situation, then maybe this isn’t the time to reach your goal of collecting the boxes. Maybe it would be more beneficial for you – and your two kids and wife – to wait a year or two.

Time-bound speaks for itself. If one of your goals is to climb Mount Everest but you don’t have a time stamp on when you need to have climbed it, the goal is not a goal – it’s a dream. I’m not saying that you should adopt my way of going about it, i.e. using a calender year at a time, I’m merely stressing the importance of setting a deadline. When setting a deadline, be careful of having it state something along the lines of “within the next 10 years”. If your goal is within the next 10 years, it becomes difficult to track progression wise, and is so far into future that breaking the goal down into steps that you could do today to near yourself becomes redundant and petty.

So be SMART and KISS (keep it simple, stupid)! Let me know whether you have any goals that you are striving towards, and if they align with the principles mentioned above. I would love to find some potential inspiration for my future goals.

As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death.
– George Bernard Shaw


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