Last year I applied Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever method to my personal goal setting. It was the first time I had written down my personal goals correctly.
I found the exercise challenging and exciting. And my end of year review last December provided some helpful insights and learning. One particular idea was a need this year to make my goals much SMARTER.
For 2016 I used Michael’s acronym AACTION, but this year I am using an another approach.
I have used it numerous times when writing work goals, targets and outcomes.
So, in this post, I will introduce you to the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. way to write your goals, objectives or outcomes, using personal examples to illustrate what I mean. The acronym stands for:
S – Specific
The more specific your goal, the better it is. Why is this so important? Simply put, the more accurate you are, the more likely you are to achieve what it is you set out to do. The specifics of your goals are what fuel your activity.
So, for example, my financial goal for 2017 is not just to make money, it is to make £30,000. Well, I am semi-retired, so the finances are not the thing that drives me, though it is good to have an end of year financial target. What I have done, however, is put an exact figure, which I believe to be realistic.
M – Meaningful
While specific goals are a must, they must also be meaningful. That way you will take action and do what it is you said you would do!
At a psychological level, this is WHY you chose to set the goals you are setting. So, for example, my £30,000 target will help me focus my energies and action through my work to achieve that objective. I already have work to the value of £8,000+ underway, which will provide an excellent stimulant to my future working practice.
However, meaningful goals will often work at a much deeper level. So, for example, another of my goals for 2017, to lose 10 lbs, is a better example of a target that has a deeper meaning and thus a better chance of a positive outcome. My weight loss goal is about me being happier with my health and well-being, with a particular focus on its results.
A – Achievable
Years of practice have taught me that any goals, objectives or outcomes you decide upon should be achievable. Grand thoughts and ideas are fine, but you should chunk them down into bite-sized pieces that, cumulatively, build the whole.
It is possible to set out three, five and even ten-year plans, with goals attached. My experience over many years of doing this in a work setting for business and project plans helps me to understand this. However, I would always set out cumulative goals. Setting out my long-term aspirations within smaller, specific intentions ensured that goals were achievable in the short-term.
That’s why I chose my target of £30,000, as it builds on what I did last year. I know that I will not be a millionaire overnight, mainly because I don’t do the Lottery. However, I do know that I can stay focused and improve on last year! That way I can build incremental momentum that moves me further on year on year.
R – Relevant
Any goals you write will only have real meaning if they are relevant to your life. By that I mean, you should write goals about what it is you want out fo life,
I love Michael Hyatt’s view that your goals for this year should span the spectrum of your life – relational, spiritual, financial, physical and intellectual. That approach helps you to achieve real balance, while at the same time ground yourself in harmony with who you are and what you want out of life.
So, align your goals with your core values. That will make them so much more relevant. And, if you don’t know what your core values are, then go figure them out first before taking another step in this process.
As an example, spending a designated set of days quality time with my wife travelling was a key goal for last year, and is again this year. Last year I blasted the goals to pieces, way exceeding what I’d set out to do. Why? Because sharing quality time with my wife travelling is what we love to do together, and it aligns so closely with who we both are.
T – Time-bound
Setting an exact date when you aim to achieve your goals is also a necessary part of this formula.
So, my financial goal for 2017 is for the full year. So is my weight goal. However, I can split each of those goals down into sub-targets if I wish to make things even more precise. So, for example, £7,500 per quarter for my financial target, or 2.5 pounds per quarter for my weight goal.
That helps me to measure my progress. I, therefore, see my goals as not set in stone, but as a cumulative process towards my ultimate goal for the year. Other of my goals, such as the one for quality time with my wife will end by October 31. I have another for my spiritual target, which is reading a particular book, and that will finish around 30 June 2017.
The time-bound part of this process helps you to measure how you are doing; to see how close or far from your goal you are. And, believe me, the sense of elation you get when you achieve your goal or hit your target is immense.
E – Evaluate
There are many schools of thought about how often you should evaluate your goals, from daily, to weekly, to monthly, to quarterly and even, for really lazy people out there, annually.
I believe it needs to be what will work best for you. What works for me is weekly. However, you need to evaluate your goals regularly [maybe daily or weekly] and consistently to ensure you are not ignoring them or underperforming against them. Whatever you do, it needs to become a habit!
I would also recommend setting up a system to track your evaluation of your goals. Micheal Hyatt uses a model involving Evernote. I’m a bit old school, so I use pen and paper. Whatever you do, make it work for you!
R – Readjust
After years of experience setting many types of goals, there is something wonderful about achieving them and a feeling altogether different when you continuously undershoot against them.
That is why I prefer to write SMARTER goals than SMART goals.
For me, the readjust part is not about throwing away your goals and starting again from scratch. It is about recognising that new approaches may be required until you get closer to what you are attempting to achieve. Or it may mean abandoning that goal for another purpose that is more realistic and achievable. Or postponing this target to what you believe would be a more favourable time.
Last year, seven weeks into 2016, I recognised that meeting my spiritual goal by June 2016 was unlikely, given all that was happening around me at that time and forecasting forward into the year. I decided to abandon that goal and reset it for this year. Another goal, to do with my business looked set to miss the mid-year deadline I had set. On further evaluation, I readjusted my time-frame and achieved the goal.
The final two elements of this process work in conjunction with one another. Regularly and consistently reviewing lends strength to your opportunities to readjust. Of 10 goals last year, I only abandoned one, using this process. In hindsight, last year I set too many goals, so this year I am trying seven. I will let you know how I get on with my achievements.
One final thought
Reflecting on last year, I would highly recommend finding an accountability buddy! Mine lives in Folsom, California and we do our calls over Skype on roughly a six weekly basis. It adds to my evaluation of how I’m doing, and keeps me on my toes! If you need an accountability buddy, just call me, and we can talk about how that might work.
[Tweet “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. – Jim Rohn”]
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