Now that you know where you want to be in life; you must be feeling zesty and all, but I have a word of advice for you; ‘don’t get too excited’. Yes! Don’t get too excited.
It is one thing to know where you want to be in life, how you intend getting there is another.
You might have been ‘brainwashed’ by success ‘gurus’ ( or whatever it is they call themselves these days) that the key to success is dreaming big, blah,blah,blah……. But I am telling from experience that dreaming big without action (taking steps towards achieving that ‘big dream’ of yours) could be likened to an empty glass of water in the hands of a thirsty man ( you know the end of the story).
Dreaming big without action is like placing ads on magazines and billboards for a product that has not even been manufactured.
I used to be a victim of dreaming big without taking steps towards accomplishing them. I am what you could call a day dreamer. I find pleasure day dreaming.
Sometimes this year as I was preparing to back to school, I found a book all covered in dust under an old box of mine (the one my grandfather gave to my father which he in turn passed it to me). And I am definitely not passing it to my kids. Nah! I am not. You don’t even want to know the history of that box.
So back to the book; after dusting it, I realized it was a goal book (where I do put my dreams and goals in writing) I used to keep back then. I opened and goggled at those goals I had set and never took any reasonable step towards its fulfillment. In fact if I should tell you one of those dreams of mine, you wouldn’t stop laughing. But because I want you to gain from this article, I guess I won’t share it with you but you can shoot me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to hear it though.
Dreaming great dreams is not my problem but taking steps towards its fulfillment is. I was so good at dreaming that most times I do wonder why my name is Daniel and not Joseph (you know the one that dreamt and dreamt to the point he was sold to slavery and all that. Read your bible!). But something happened to me that transformed my life, I got S.M.A.R.T.
In my last article on time management; Read it here. I shared with us how setting S.M.A.R.T goals would help us manage ourselves in a context of time.
Today, I am going to share with you not only how to set SMART goals but how to become a success by setting SMART goals.
All you have to do is relax, grab a coffee or…. Just relax and read on because it’s gonna be a long but interesting ride.
WHAT THE HECK is a S.M.A.R.T goal?
What is the essence of setting goals when it doesn’t bring you the desired results? Some goals are unambiguous, unattainable and most times can be difficult to phantom. But setting S.M.A.R.T goals is the fuel of that ‘big dream’ of yours.
S.M.A.R.T is a handy acronym for the five characteristics of a well designed goal.
WHO NEEDS a S.M.A.R.T goal?
Everyone! Everyone needs a smart goal. We all have unlimited potentials in us as humans and S.M.A.R.T goals are what we need to unleash them.
From the repentant chain smoker(that wants to stop smoking) to fat Mrs. Parker that wants to get in shape and even from organizations that want to move on to the next level to that young entrepreneur that just launched a start-up. We all need S.M.A.R.T goals to fulfill these desires of ours.
HOW CAN I set S.M.A.R.T goals or get S.M.A.R.T?
Now that we know what S.M.A.R.T goals means and that everyone needs a S.M.A.R.T goal, we also need to know how to set these goals or else….
Since SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. I am going to take us through each alphabet that makes up the acronym after the other with clear illustrations.
S- SPECIFIC: When you set a specific goal, it has a much greater chance of being accomplished. Your goal must answer the questions; HOW, WHEN and WHAT. Your goals must be clear and unambiguous. It must define exactly what you want, when you want it and how you want it.
You can’t just say “I want six packs’. You must be specific. When do you want it and how? This goal only tells us what you want (six packs), a better way to put this is by saying: ‘I want six packs before summer so I would visit the gym 3 times a week’. This answers the HOW, WHEN and WHAT question.
M-MEASURABLE: A goal that you can’t measure is useless; you have to know when you have completed a goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as HOW many? HOW will I know when it is accomplished?
In organizations, if your goal is not measurable, it wouldn’t be tough for your employees to stay motivated to complete their goals when they have no milestone to indicate their progress.
A-ATTAINABLE: it is good to dream high but don’t bite more than you can chew. Set goals that are attainable. An example of an unattainable goal is “I want to be the richest man on earth before I turn 17”. Goals that are set too high or too low become meaningless. The best thing is to set goals that would stretch you a bit but not to the extreme. For example, “I want to come out top in my department”. You definitely know you have to work hard to get there but it is attainable.
R-REALISTIC: your goals must also be realistic and relevant. This is like an updated version (lets say version 2.0) of what we just discussed above.
Not only must your goal be attainable, it must also represent an objective toward which you are willing and able to work, for example, “I want to get an MBA”. Getting an MBA is good but as a medical student, what do you need an MBA for?
As an organization, relevant and realistic goals have great impact on performance and bring your organization closer to its vision.
T-Timely: yes, the last but not the least. A goal that is Smart, Measurable, Realistic, and Attainable and has no deadline is more or less a wish. And you might as well get a ‘wishing wand’ to make it official. Goals must have starting points, ending points and fixed durations.
Okay let me explain better; with no time frame tied to a goal, there is no sense of urgency. Commitment to deadlines helps you focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. If you want to write a book, when do you want to start and finish it? Don’t just say “someday, even saying “next year” wont work which brings us back to bring SPECIFIC.
“I want to start my book today and publish it before April 30th 2014”. This is specific, measurable, realistic, attainable and timely. It is S.M.A.R.T.
NOTE: when setting time, set enough time to achieve the goal. For example; “I want to finish reading ‘things fall apart’ in 30minutes” (not enough time, not realistic). And don’t give yourself too much time; it makes you lose track e.g. like giving yourself 3 hrs to type a 500-word article. (You would definitely lose focus).
On a final note, I want you to know that you can do just about anything in life if you plan your steps wisely. No dream is too big. It is all about creating room for self development. When you grow, you expand to match those goals that may have seemed far away or out of reach.
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Thank you for reading.
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