Counsellor & Psychotherapist
Masters of Counselling & Psychotherapy UofA
Member of the ACA College of Supervisors
Level 3 Member Australian Counselling Association
SMART is the acronym that rings in the ears of all us of who have tried to make changes in our lives. It makes great sense to be SMART when setting goals. After all goals are what we need to make change.
Lets be honest. Most of us have worked "wish" to death. We have spent years and years, wishing and wishing with not a lot to show for it. Except the wish that we could have one more wish. Oh and not to mention a steadily declining self esteem.
Okay lets get back to being SMART, or more importantly how to be SMART when goal setting. As I alluded to - wishes are great but they lack in the keeping us accountable department. Therefore the secret to success is to use goal setting and use the SMART recipe to keep us on track.
It goes like this:
S = Specific. Most of the airy fairy, indirect umming and arring that we engage in simple doesn't cut it. I could have said "all" of our umming and arring; but I didn't want you to get defensive and not read the rest of the article.
In the 'S' phase of goal setting you need to answer the questions of Who, What, When, Where and Why? Things start to take shape and you are moving from wishing to the practicality of the doing, which is moving forward toward the being.
M = Measurable. Let's face it, we will all crib if we can. How many times have you told someone that you only ate one chocolate, or the fish you caught was a couple of centimetres longer? Measurement is important to us humans. If we can measure it, it motivates and excites us.
In the 'M' start of goal setting, the questions all start with 'how.' How will I know that I have got there? How much? How many?
A = Attainable. This is the part where we need to be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves before we have had a chance to get out of the blocks. There is a lovely quote (except for us vegetarians) which says that you should eat the elephant one bite at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself. Bring your project down to "bite" size pieces.
In the 'A' section of goal setting, you are setting time frames, and accepting that you are worthy to achieve your goals. You miraculously start to get out of your own way. I know that sounds harsh, but we are humans, and we do like to get in our own way.
R = Realistic. This is not meant to be a dream killer; it is about setting yourself up for success. Some goals need to be taken one bite at a time (remember the elephant). So you want to run a marathon, but you are recovering from major surgery. Doesn't mean that you can't aim for the marathon; you just need to set some small milestones on the way...milestones such as recovering from the surgery; walks around the block; longer walks; a faster pace and so on.
In the 'R' section of goal setting, this is where you get real about what you are willing and able to do to achieve your goal. Are you prepared to put up with the muscle strains and pains when you are training for that marathon?
T = Timely. This is the part where you get real and move your goal from 'somewhere out there and transition it from wish status to goal status.
The 'T' section of goal setting is the time you take stock and see if you have achieved a similar goal in the past. If the answer is yes, you check for the learnings and weed out what didn't work and move forward with what did. This is the time to take stock of your thinking and work out whether you truly believe that you can make it happen. Remembering whether you succeed or fail is all up to your thinking. If you think you can you're right, and if you think you can't you are also right. T is the time to get your thinking straight.
T = Tangible (I know this is an extra T, but Trust me it is important). If we can engage our senses when we are aiming for our goal, it adds dimension to our goal. What will it look like, feel like, sound like, smell like or taste like when you have achieved that goal? Use vision boards, affirmations or whatever you enjoy to keep your goal as an immediate focus.
Again, if you are thinking of making a change and it all looks like it is too hard, then try making smaller goals. Goals that will put you one stop closer to your destination. It is amazing how quickly time passes when all you are doing is focusing on one step at a time.