We’ve all heard of SMART goals and probably even set our own at some point. Whether you’re setting a New Years resolution, or starting a goal at another time, SMART goals can set you up for success, but is it enough? (Spoiler alert: nope!)
What Are SMART Goals Again?
For those who haven’t heard of a SMART goal, or just need a refresher, here’s a quick summary. SMART is an acronym to help you set good goals that are more likely to be achieved.
Specific – The more specific you get, the better! Write what you’re going to do, when and where you’ll do it, how often, and who will be involved.
Measurable – How will you know you’ve been successful? Be sure to include some sort of measuring stick here (numbers are great!) to hold yourself accountable. Consider the length of time, number of days per week, number of repetitions, etc.
Attainable – How will the path towards this goal unfold? In order to be attainable, we need to be able to dictate each step along the way. Write them out!
Realistic – Do you have the resources to be able to do this? If not, what resources do you need to be successful? Think about time, money, support, etc (and be REAL with yourself…no excuses!)
Time Bound – Set a timeline for each action step (from the attainable section), and a final deadline.
SMART goals are really great and set up an exceptional framework for meeting your goals. But they are missing two things to make them SMART-ER: Evaluation and revision.
Most people set a goal, and then when things aren’t working, they give up. Instead, you can plan to have regular evaluation periods to check in with your progress and make revisions as necessary. This is how we make a SMART goal SMART-ER. To do this, you’ll need to include these steps when writing your next goal!
When starting a new goal, it’s important to check in often. This is the time when you can acknowledge the challenges, both expected and unexpected. You can plan all you want, but it’s almost certain that there will be things that get in the way of your success. Setting up a plan to address these things is key!
How often should you evaluate? Well, that depends. If you’re just starting a new goal, frequent evaluations are necessary. As you iron out the wrinkles, you can reduce the frequency to weekly, bi-monthly, and monthly. Once your goal becomes part of your lifestyle, you can have infrequent check-ins every 3-6 months.
Evaluations are no good if we don’t do something about our findings! If during your evaluation process you stumble upon an obstacle, it’s time to make adjustments to ensure you keep moving forward.
Maybe the time of day you chose isn’t working for you. Try a different time. If the number of days per week isn’t quite enough, add more. Don’t be afraid to adjust your SMART goal so it fits your life!
Making revisions to your goal as often as you need to is important in keeping you on track. Make as many revisions as you need to make you successful!
A Few Final Considerations
Beware of Analysis Paralysis
Having regular evaluation is important, but be sure to allow yourself some time to actually try things without being overly critical. Just because something didn’t work once, doesn’t mean that it’s completely wrong and needs immediate revision. Acknowledge when something doesn’t work, and ask yourself whether you think it is a one-off, or whether you think it’ll be an ongoing problem. If you’re not sure, give it a few more tries to see what happens!
Don’t let your excuses get the best of you.
Following through on goals is hard. And when life gets hard, we tend to let fear take the lead. When we act out of fear, we create excuses.
I know you didn’t set this goal just for fun. You have a genuine desire to change something about yourself. Don’t ever forget that! Remind yourself of your “why” when things are getting tough, and it will help you to move forward!
Have Some Compassion for Yourself
Transformation is not an easy journey. You will miss days, even some for no good reason. You will probably have times when you want to give up. That’s normal. Remember, one slip-up doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Drop the drama and commit to beginning again. You’ve got this!
For more ideas on goal setting, take my course Ignite Your Goals. For more tips to help you feel your best, join my online membership program, Radical Wellbeing! There are weekly fitness classes and health education sessions featuring all the latest health research. Don’t miss out!