Make Your Goals Smart with the SMART Method
Updated on 29 Dec 2023 • 5 min read • posted by Yevhen Codes
Our lives require making decisions constantly. It can be small routine tasks or grand choices that define our future. Setting goals may seem easy, but to succeed, you need a system that helps you set clear and achievable goals.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. may sound like just an adjective, but it can be beneficial when it comes to making decisions. This is your imaginary plan or simply several characteristics you need to have in your goal to get a desirable result.
What are SMART Goals
The SMART goal format is a tool to create objectives that will improve the chances of succeeding in accomplishing them. SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
By defining each of these aspects as they relate to a goal, you can greatly increase your chances of success within a certain timeframe. This approach eliminates vagueness and guesswork, providing a clear timeline for your goals and increase productivity. It also makes it easier to track your progress and pinpoint where you may have missed a milestone.
If your goal is unclear or it seems to be a general phrase — unfortunately, achieving it is going to be way harder. Instead of “read more books” try to go with “read 3 sci-fi books in a month and make at least 1 review”. You need clarity and narrow focus because this is the only way to know what to do next.
Measurable means using specific metrics applicable specifically to your decision. Set it directly into your goal, and in the end, it will be much easier to understand your efficiency. You can also track your progress during all the time of realization, which is important as much as having specifics.
Sometimes you can’t do more than your best, so you need to understand realistically what your goal is. It is going to help you when you have to prioritize your resources, especially time. For example, the goal “become an expert in mechanical engineering in a month” for a person who knows nothing about engineering doesn’t seem implementable. A more achievable goal would be “take an online course about mechanical engineering for a month” – it seems to be more achievable and real in your present conditions.
Your goal has to align with your understanding of success and bring you closer to accomplishing it. Ask yourself every time you are making decisions, if it's really worth your time and energy, or maybe you can do something more useful in the long term.
Also, you have to be time-oriented while making decisions. Create a timeline for your goal and try to stick with your plan. In this case, time will be the agent that is going to help you with the implementation of your purpose. It is important not to forget about your capabilities, and to form your timeline with a view to your strengths and weaknesses. If you set up deadlines wisely, you won’t have to worry about missing out.
How to Set SMART Goals
The key is to focus on each of the SMART goals acronym and make sure that your goals align with them.
We suggest you try out two ways of writing SMART goals that will help you to set up clear and achievable goals:
Following the SMART Steps
That means that you write a specific goal for each of the SMART elements. Here's an example of SMART goals related to learning a new language:
Specific: I want to learn Spanish so that I can speak with my coworkers who are native Spanish speakers.
Measurable: I will track my progress by taking a language proficiency test every three months to see how much I've improved.
Achievable: I will set aside 30 minutes each day to study and practice speaking Spanish, and I will attend a language class once a week to supplement my learning.
Relevant: Learning Spanish is relevant to my personal and professional goals, as it will allow me to communicate more effectively with my coworkers and potentially open up new career opportunities.
Time-bound: I will achieve a B1 level proficiency in Spanish within one year, as measured by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Using the SMART Formula
For those who want to see one specific goal, we adapted a formula that includes the usage of SMART goal elements. So a SMART-goal statement might look like this:
The goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [specific period or deadline]. To track the progress I will use [choose the metrics or ways to measure it]. I will achieve this goal by [specific steps to accomplish it]. Accomplishing this goal will lead me to [result].
And an example of using the formula related to the situation that we mentioned earlier.
The goal is to achieve a B1 level proficiency in Spanish by the end of one year, as measured by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
To track my progress, I will take a language proficiency test every three months and record my results.
I will achieve this goal by setting aside 30 minutes each day to study and practice speaking Spanish, attending a language class once a week to supplement my learning, and engaging in regular conversation practice with my native Spanish-speaking coworkers.
Accomplishing this goal will lead me to be able to communicate more effectively with my coworkers, potentially open up new career opportunities, and feel more confident and accomplished in my personal and professional life.
Tips for Using the SMART Method
Let's explore practical tips for effectively using the SMART method.
Make Your Goals Simple
The SMART approach should help you reduce stress and anxiety. Complex goals are difficult to realize at once. So it's better to break them down into smaller ones and focus on them. This will additionally help to reduce stress and anxiety.
Know Your Limits
The third aspect of the method is “Achievable”. Thus it is important to understand what you can achieve using your current skills, resources, and time. You shouldn’t limit your ambitions but rather be honest with yourself.
For instance, if you're new to sports and want to run a marathon, it’s a huge leap. Start with smaller, more attainable goals, such as running a certain distance regularly. As you progress, you can gradually increase your goal.
Life is unpredictable. And it is flexibility that allows you to adapt to changing circumstances or external factors that you cannot control. Being flexible helps you stay motivated and make progress even when things don't go exactly as planned. This approach ensures that your goals become adaptive rather than rigid tasks.
Setting goals is great, but don't forget to treat yourself along the way. When you reach little milestones – treat yourself. It could be a cup of your favorite coffee, the purchase of a new book, or just some time to relax. These small rewards will make the journey more motivating.
Why SMART Goals are Important
Adherence to this system can eliminate some of your previous goals, or completely change them. Perhaps it won't be similar to the starting point, but now you need to return to the "Relevant": how much this goal suits you? Is there any special need to accomplish it? The SMART method approach helps to achieve your goals more efficiently and with greater clarity, leading to more meaningful and fulfilling outcomes.
Set Your SMART Objectives
Remember that the main point of your decisions is not a form or condition by itself. Setting goals is meticulous work with your internal desires, your special attainments, and your particular background. It is about personal mindfulness in general, and only after that, you should think about techniques you find personally valuable. Consider S.M.A.R.T. as an instrument or a set of criteria you need to follow to create a clear objective decision with a further plan having a simple understandable structure. Make sure that every single feature is obvious in your goal, so in the future, the work process will be more effective and the result will be forthcoming.