How to write a SMART goal that works for you.
When you think of where you want to be in ten years… no, let me start that again. Have you ever thought about where you want to be in ten years?
There is generally three options here. Either you haven’t thought at all about it, you’re more of an ‘in the moment’ person. Two, you have thought about it and maybe you’ll be married with kids, or your kids will be nearing adulthood, or maybe you’re nearing retirement and cutting back a bit on the unnecessary expenses. Or there is a third option…
You’ve started a new business, it’s taken off!
You’ve brought and renovated three, four, five rental homes and you don’t need to work your day job anymore.
You’ve been able to afford a few trips of a lifetime with your teenage kids and made family memories to last a lifetime.
Or maybe you’re a full-time blogger, working your own hours, helping others get there too, and have way more spare time on your hands to just e n j o y t h i s l i f e. (This one’s me! 🙂 )
I wanna be clear – I don’t mean that you need to be dreaming up mansions, fancy cars and celebrity status. I mean big for your life. I mean outside of this little box that we can find ourselves in (you know the one – go to school, college, job, promotion, 40 hour work weeks…). If you can’t even begin to imagine what you might like your life to look like, head over here to get back to basics.
Take some time to imagine this life of yours, what your dream everyday life looks like. Once you have that firmly in your mind, we need to break it down into bite-sized goals. Achievable actions that can get us there. If you are building a business, you can focus on the first step – launching your business. Or if you want to have an epic family adventure, maybe your goal is just to save up enough money.
Writing a SMART goal.
Start with a sentence or two about your goal or objective.
“I want to make more money.”
Now, here’s the thing. If you’re going on a journey and your map just points north, how far north do you need to go? How will you know when you get there? You need to be more specific. Two easy techniques to help you with this is the 6 W’s or the 5 Why’s.
The 6 W’s are a common set of questions used to gather more information about something. You probably first learnt them in primary (elementary) school, but you know what? They still do the trick!
What, who, where, when, why and how (let’s not point out the obvious…;) ).
For example, what are you trying to achieve? An important reason to define your goal this way is that, by default, you can see what you’re not trying to achieve. So the more specific you are, the less chance that you’ll be wasting your time doing things that don’t matter to your goal. You’ll work smarter and more efficiently, getting you there quicker.
This technique is called the 5 why’s, but really it’s how just how ever many times it takes you to get clarity. Keep asking why until you get to the true reason why (the “root cause” in management speak).
Why do I want to make more money? I want to make enough money to be able to quit my office job.
Why do I want to quit my office job? Because I want to be able to be more involved in my kid’s schooling and I want to have the time and money to enjoy family holidays while the kids are still… well.. kids.
I think it’s so important to do this exercise with any of the goals you set for yourself. I don’t want to make money for the sake of making money. I’m looking to change my everyday life so that I can spend more time with kids.
How do you know when you’re there? Can you track your progress along the way? Find a way to measure your goal – specify how much money you need and at what rate you need to be making that along the way to reach your target. This will give you time to adjust along the way, rather than getting to the end and finding that you’ve missed your target by miles.
I want to explain this step. Because it’s so important that SMART goals, our shorter term goals, are achievable. But that are future vision, our long term goals, are ambitious and reaching for the stars and make you a little bit nervous or excited to think about. Don’t get the two confused!
Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.Bill Gates
By setting yourself small achievable goals, you will build up confidence and momentum, pushing you ever closer to those grand dreams of yours.
Will this goal help you get to that vision of your future that we talked about? Is this a rung in the ladder you’ve chosen to climb? This reminds me of a metaphor about the difference between a good manager and a good leader. The good manager will get his people up the ladder, rung by rung. A good leader will make sure the ladder is leaning up against the right building. Make sure you’re climbing the right ladder!
A time-bound goal means that you have a time-frame you are sticking to and that there is an end date. And this is especially important as you get more practice at setting and crushing SMART goals. A key part of learning to be better at using SMART goals in your life is to learn from your own experiences. Do you tend to underestimate how long something will take? Do you need to narrow down your focus and not get so side-tracked?
Progress not perfection.
Learning to write a SMART goal is the first step in achieving your bigger dreams and, quite honestly, will put you streaks ahead of most other people!
But remember, we are talking about progress here, not perfection! So get started today, write a SMART goal for the upcoming weeks and practice tracking your goals through to the end.
And because I want you to actually give this a go today, here’s a little something I prepared earlier –
Let me know how you go and if you have any questions. I’m passionate about using the right tools to set ourselves up for success and I truly believe this is an awesome way to do it!