In this article, we discuss SMART goals, specifically what they are and how to make them. Will walk you through an example that illustrates how SMART goals are helpful, and why you should make sure that every goal you set is a SMART goal.
“What are your goals?” is a question nearly everyone asks each other around New Year’s Eve, and it is one of the many questions we ask during our Attainer Assessments.
Goals provide us with a sense of direction. Where do we want to go? How will we get there? Having an end goal in mind is the first part of any new journey. Without them, you are sure to get lost.
Let’s compare goal setting to a cross-country trip. Imagine you are traveling by car from New Jersey to California. That’s a 43-hour journey. Are you going to make this trip in one shot, or will you take stops along the way?
The long-term goal in this example is to reach California. It is the final destination of your journey.
If you are able to drive 43 hours without stopping, I applaud you. If not, you’ll need to hit some checkpoints throughout your journey to help you manage your trip to Cali. Think of these “checkpoints” as short-term goals.
Why would it be ill-advised to make a cross country trek in one 43-hour car ride? Well, you might get hungry, thirsty, and/or start to doze off from lack of sleep. All of these things may halt your progress, or worse, make you cancel the trip altogether.
But you love the idea of getting to California! It’s something you’ve wanted to do for a long time and you want to make the trip happen. It’s best for you to come up with a plan to make the trip more manageable to help you fulfill this dream of yours. This is where SMART goals come into play!
When we ask new Attainers what their goals are, we reframe them to be SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Bound.
“I want to get to California,” is not a specific goal. In how many days will it take you to get to California? What time of year are you taking this trip?
Let’s make this goal more specific. “In July, I will drive 43 hours over a seven day period to California.”
Is this goal measurable? Forty-three hours in seven days is an average of six hours a day. So yes, this goal is measurable! After each day you can track how many hours you’ve driven and see if it is higher or lower than the average.
Are you equipped to make this 43-hour trip? If you don’t have a license, the answer would be no. But if you do have a license, you are legally allowed to make this trip!
The other question we have to ask is if you have a seven-day break in July. If there is no break in your schedule that lasts seven days, you’ll not be afforded the time you need to make your trip to California.
Let’s say you do have a license and a break equal to seven days. Great! The next question is whether or not you can drive six hours a day.
Have you ever driven six hours in one day before? If the answer is no, a six-hour drive may seem daunting, especially considering that you’d have to do it for seven days straight.
You’ve allotted yourself seven days to make this trip — that much is clear. However, how much time have you allotted yourself to prepare for this trip? Are you doing this spur of the moment? Or is this a trip you’re going to take in three months? If you are well prepared (e.g. know where’ll you’ll stop, budget appropriately, make arrangements as needed, etc.), the chances of having a successful trip increase.
With this in mind, let’s make an addition to the SMART goal: “In five months, I will drive 43 hours over a seven day period in the month of July to California.”
Now that’s a SMART goal.
SMART Goals and Short-Term Goals
Now that we have a SMART goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound, we can use short-term goals to appropriately measure our progress.
In the five months leading up to the trip, a checklist of all the supplies you’ll need to get and arrangements you need to make can be created.
*Money for gas
*Phone (with GPS)
There’s definitely more we can add to this list, but getting all the items on your travel checklist would be a short-term goal. Completing this short-term goal gets you one step closer to making this trip to California!
Now for the arrangements:
*Reserve car for seven days
*Schedule vacation days for the duration of the trip
*If traveling alone, inform friends/family of destination + stops
*Reserve hotel rooms by locations where you’ll rest
Again, more can be added to this list, but making all of these arrangements is at least another measure of how prepared you’ll be for the trip, and it’s something we can count as another short-term goal.
Once you are on the trip, destinations you plan to stop at after each six-hour trip can also serve as short-term goals. In other words, the states in which you stop become checkpoints, markers of your progress so far. This way, the trip can be viewed as a combination of shorter trips (as opposed to one long one), which is far less intimidating.
Application to Health and Wellness
The example above is not a SMART goal related to health and wellness, but we can use the same strategy when planning our health and wellness goals.
With the new year in full swing, take a look at the goals you set for yourself. Are they SMART goals? If not, how can they be modified to look more like a SMART goal?
Send us a DM on Instagram or Facebook, or email us with your New Year’s health and wellness goals, and will help you construct a SMART goal!