Have you ever set a goal, only to find yourself struggling to achieve it? If you have, you’re not alone. According to a study by the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. So, what separates the successful few from the vast majority who fail? The answer lies in how they set their goals. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to set SMARTER goals that increase your chances of success.
What is a SMARTER Goal?
A SMARTER goal is a robust and specific goal that is:
Let’s break each of these down in more detail.
Specific: Vague goals are difficult to achieve because it’s hard to know where to start or what exactly needs to be done. To make your goal specific, ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and which questions. For example, rather than setting the goal of “lose weight,” be specific and set the goal of “lose 20 pounds by June 1st.”
Measurable: Measurable progress is essential for gauging whether you are on track to reach your goal. Without measurable progress, it’s difficult to stay motivated. To make your goal measurable, attach numbers to it. For example, rather than setting the goal of “improve my fitness,” be specific and set the goal of “run a 5K in 30 minutes by May 1st.”
Achievable: When setting goals, it’s important to make sure they are achievable so you don’t get discouraged along the way. An achievable goal is one that is realistic given your current circumstances. This doesn’t mean your goals can’t challenge you; they should just be within the realm of possibility. For example, if you currently run 1 mile in 10 minutes, an achievable goal would be to run a 5K in 30 minutes by May 1st (this assumes you have 3 months to train). If you currently run a 5K in 30 minutes, an achievable goal would be to run a marathon in 4 hours by December 1st (this assumes you have 9 months training).
Relevant: A relevant goal is one that aligns with your long-term plans and ultimate objectives. For example, if your long-term career objective is to become a doctor, then running a marathon wouldn’t necessarily be relevant (unless maybe you’re raising money for charity). However, continuing to improve your fitness would be relevant because it would help you stay healthy as you complete medical school and begin your residency.
Timely: Giving yourself a deadline creates a sense of urgency and forces you to take action. Without a timeline attached to your goal, it’s easy to procrastinate and never get started. For example, rather than saying “I’m going run a marathon someday,” give yourself a timeline and say “I’m going run a marathon on December 1st.”
Evaluated Progress: Periodically evaluating your progress helps hold you accountable and keeps you on track toward reaching your final destination. This can be done daily (ex., at the end of each day, ask yourself what could have been done better), weekly (ex., at the end of each week, reflect on what went well and what didn’t), or monthly (ex., at the end of each month, reassess whether your current actions are helping or hindering your progress).
Rewarded Achievement: Celebrating milestones along the way helps maintain momentum and keeps you excited about reaching your ultimate goal. For example, after running your first mile in under 10 minutes last week as part of training for the 5K race in May—reward yourself! Maybe buy yourself new workout clothes or treat yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant.
Goal setting is an essential part of any successful endeavor. By following the SMARTER framework outlined above—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely, evaluated progress, rewarded achievement —you increase not only your chances of success but also improve motivation along the way! What goals will YOU be setting using the SMARTER framework?