Are Your Goals SMART? by Danielle Lively
Danielle Lively Neal is a former professor turned entrepreneur who provides brand strategy consulting, career coaching, and marketing services for clients.
Goals, goals, goals!!! We all have them, we all need them, but how do we go about setting them in a way that ensures we achieve them? Well, that’s where SMART goals come in. You have all probably heard the term SMART goals bandied about, but some of you may wonder, what the heck makes a goal a SMART goal? Does it mean that it’s not stupid? Does it mean that it has passion? Well, you are on the right track, but SMART goals encompass so much more than that. So let’s get started on setting your SMART goals for your last 90 days of the year so you can knock 2021 out with a bang and come into 2022 right at the top!
Each of the letters in SMART goals means something, if you haven’t figured that out already. “S” stands for specific, your goals must be specific. By specific, we are talking about using real numbers with real deadlines. For example, instead of saying “I want more followers by the end of the year” a specific goal would be “I want 1,000 new followers by December 31, 2021.” This specificity is important because it helps you set up a clear plan to achieve that goal instead of being wishy-washy. Plus, it’s motivating! Who doesn’t love checking off the steps and advances toward your goal! Personally I love the little quote sign I keep on my desk to keep me motivated that says “Underestimate Me, That’ll Be Fun.” It’s just as much a reminder for me as for others!
Then we have “M” which stands for measurable, you need to have a way to measure those goals! Which is also why the specificity is so important, it’s hard to measure something wishy-washy. Think about it this way, how will I know when I have achieved my goal? Maybe your goal is literally to be happier. Who doesn’t want that! So the question then becomes, how do I make that specific? Well, what makes you happy? Is it getting in some time outdoors, drinks with friends, time with your kids? All of those things? Great! So now get specific and say “In order to be happier I will spend one hour with a friend each week, spend an hour each evening one on one with the kids, and go for a daily 30-minute walk outside.” That’s specific…and measurable, did you do it or not? You can break any goal down like this.
“A” stands for achievable, your goal must be in the realm of possibility for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t reach for the stars and don’t strive for ambitious goals, it just means that you gotta be real! For example, I will never be a pro-football player because I have the athletic talent of a flamingo. The reason this is important is so you can see and measure your progress towards your goals, otherwise it can be extremely disheartening and it will feel like you will never get there. If you don’t set an achievable goal you are setting yourself up for failure. But…goals change and as you move up in your business your goals can get bigger so in the end you end up achieving something that didn’t seem achievable in the first place. But for now, achievable means actionable.
Now to “R” for relevant. Some also use “realistic” for the “R.” I feel that realistic kind of fits with the achievable so I prefer using relevant. By relevant, you need to think about why your goal is important to you. How in the world are you going to motivate yourself to get up and walk towards your goals each day if you don’t know why they are important to you? This is where many goals get hung up, it’s hard to get motivated to achieve something when you have lost sight of why it was your goal in the first place. This is also a place where you have to really think about if the goal you are setting is really for YOU or something you think others would want you to achieve or that you think you have to achieve to be something or mean something in your field. When the chips are down and you are into the grunt and grind of the tough times, that’s not going to sustain you. You have to have passion for that goal.
Lastly, “T” for time bound! Experts go back and forth on time bound goals. Maybe you want to write a book and your huge goal is to be a New York Times bestselling author, you don’t care when it happens and you will write till you make it. That’s a huge goal, but it’s not time bound. However, what would be time bound is saying you will write one book every four years and breaking that down even further by how many pages you will write daily or weekly. So having a time bound goal is important for measurable purposes and also to keep you on track towards your goal. You will never be an NYT bestselling author if you don’t actually write a book!
So what are you waiting for? Get out there and set some SMART goals for your last 90 days of the year! Why wait until January 2022 when you could be well on your way to your lifetime goals in the last 90 days of 2021!?!? Need some inspiration? I found this book In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs to be super inspiring, they are just like you and I, setting goals and achieving them!