The SMART goal formula is tool you can use to help you plan the things you would like to achieve and to record the steps you will need to take to achieve them. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time focused. The formula can be used for any type of goal from weight loss to building a house. The following paragraph will explain the five points of the SMART goal formula and provide examples for you.
Goals should be concrete and tangible. For example rather than I want to lose weight or I want to exercise more frequently your goal should be along the lines of I want to lose 5 kilograms or I want to increase my exercise to 3 times per week. Making a specific goal and writing it down commits you to action and makes you accountable to yourself.
In order to assess your progress towards your goal, there needs to be a scale to measure it against. In the weight loss and exercise examples above the 5 kilograms and 3 times per week are measurement scales. You are able to track your progress against the measurement scale and see how close you are getting to achieving your goal.
If you want to achieve a goal, you should set a goal that is slightly difficult and will make you stretch as a person but is not impossible. For example, if you are an inexperienced mountain climber, it is wise to not set a goal which is I will climb Mt Everest by the end of the year, as it is likely that is in an unattainable goal. A more suitable goal would be I will climb a 50 foot mountain by the end of the year. It is fine and indeed impressive to hold onto a long term goal or vision of what your life will be like in a few years but you should realize that in order to get to that long term vision you will need to take many small steps and achieve many small goals.
The realistic point of the SMART goal formula is related to attainable. Again, your goal should stretch your abilities but should not be something that you will find impossible to achieve (such as climbing Mt Everest as an inexperienced mountain climber). Another point to remember when making a realistic goal is to ensure that your goal will fit into your lifestyle, for example a goal relating to increasing exercise to 2 hours per day may not be realistic for your 9-5 work and taking care of the house lifestyle – it may be more realistic to aim to 45 minutes per day.
Don’t allow your goal to hang around forever or you may find that you procrastinate and do not achieve any steps towards your goal. Set yourself a time frame for your goal, for example I want to lose 5 kilograms in the next 6 months. This increases your accountability to yourself – you have a deadline to make, are you going to do so?