Get SMART about Achieving Your Goals

How smart are you when it comes to setting your goals? Not everyone has a solid plan or understands how to get what they want. Some of you may need assistance or encouragement to get started, but ultimately, your life decisions relating to career, relationships, material possessions, personal health, and so on, rest with you. You decide what you want, when to move forward, to change plans, or to start over with a new idea. When your decisions don’t work for you, it’s time to get SMART.

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, and is your key to reaching your goal. A journey with no goal will lead somewhere random or nowhere at all. Vague goals are not much help either. Ask yourself how your goal fits into each of these categories and you will reveal a clear direction toward success. Here’s how.

Define your goal. Saying you want a career in the arts is vague. Saying you want to specialize in digital photography at sporting events involving horses in San Diego within three years is much more specific. Know where you are aiming and you will know when you’ve hit the target.

Measure your achievements. Break your goal into smaller steps. In this example, you need specialized equipment and computer software, and you must learn how to use them. You will want to know how to reach potential customers and how to meet their needs. You may need to move to San Diego. Checking off each completed task brings you one step closer. You’ll feel a boost and the affirmation you can do it.

Be sure your goal is attainable. Is there demand for the type of work you want to do? Are you able to attend classes and labs to learn your craft? Can you fit your education into your current work schedule? Your goal needs to be realistic for you.

How relevant is your goal to your life? Do you find horses and sports exciting? If large animals make you nervous and you are pursuing this angle because you heard polo, race track, and rodeo photographers were well-paid, staying interested could become an unwelcome challenge. Your goal needs to be based on your own dreams. Someone else’s idea of what you should do is not an effective motivator for the long haul.

Next, set a time-line in which to achieve your goals. Be practical while adding up how much time it will take to achieve each step. Can you objectively get through your coursework and practice your new craft in the time you have allowed? Consider any special needs you may have and how they work into the equation.

Persistence is your ally. Personal responsibilities, unseen challenges, and forces out of your control may push your timeline back. Consult the SMART method to reassess, adjust, and move forward again. Setbacks may not be avoidable, but your motivation to continue on is in your hands. Go after what you want the SMART way and improve your chances for success. I bet you feel smarter already!

Author/speaker Janet F. Williams is a sales trainer and coach for personal and professional development. Her award-winning book “You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get” helps readers ask for what they want and increase their chances of getting it. Contact Janet:

One Response to “Get SMART about Achieving Your Goals”

  1. Katie Tucker
    March 5th, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    Great post Janet. This is all very applicable to some goals I am working toward right now.

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