Sunday, May 21, 2006

Smart Goals

I really like this acronym S.M.A.R.T., because we want to be smart when we set our goals. We want to intelligently decide what our goals will be so that we can actually accomplish them. We want to set the goals that our heart conceives, that our mind believes and that our bodies will carry out. Let's take a closer look at each of the components of S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific: Goals are no place to waffle. They are no place to be vague. Ambiguous goals produce ambiguous results. Incomplete goals produce incomplete futures.

When we are specific, we harness the power of our dreams and set forces into action that empower us to achieve our goals. We then know exactly what it is we are shooting for. There is no question. As we establish our priorities and manage our time, we do so for a specific goal to achieve the results we expect. There is no wondering or guessing. The future is locked into our minds and we see it—specifically—and that is powerful! Never underestimate just how important it is to have very specific, concrete goals. They act as magnets that draw you toward them! A S.M.A.R.T. goal is specific.

Measurable: Always set goals that are measurable. I would say "specifically measurable" to take into account our principle of being specific as well. Our goals should be such that we know when we are advancing and by how much. Whether it is by hours, pounds, dollars or whatever, we should be able to see exactly how we are measuring up as we proceed through the journey of life using our goals. Could you imagine if you didn't measure your goals? You would never know which way you were going or even if you were going anywhere! A S.M.A.R.T. goal is measurable.

Attainable: One of the detrimental things that many people do—and they do it with good intentions—is to set goals that are so high they are unattainable. Yes, it is very important to set big goals that cause your heart to soar with excitement, but it is also imperative to make sure that they are attainable. In the next section we talk about being realistic. So what does it mean to be attainable? An attainable goal is one that is both realistic but also attainable in a shorter period of time than what you have to work with. Now when I say attainable, I don't mean easy. Our goals should be set so they are just out of our reach; so they will challenge us to grow as we reach forward to achieve them. After the next paragraph, I will give you an example of a goal that is both attainable and realistic. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is attainable.

Realistic: The root word of realistic is "real." A goal has to be something that we can reasonably make "real" or a "reality" in our lives. There are some goals that simply are not realistic. You have to be able to say, even if it is a tremendously stretching goal, that yes, indeed, it is entirely realistic—that you could make it. You may even have to say that it will take x, y, and z to do it, but if those happen, then it can be done. This is in no way to say it shouldn't be a big goal, but it must be realistic. This is to a great degree, up to the individual. For one person a goal may be realistic, but for another unrealistic. I would encourage you to be very honest with yourself as you do your planning and evaluation. Perhaps it would be good to get a friend to help you (as long as that friend is by nature an optimist and not a pessimist). This can go a long way toward helping you know what is realistic. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is realistic.

Time: Every goal should have a timeframe attached to it. I think that life itself is much more productive for us as humans because there is a timeframe connected to it. Could you imagine how much procrastination there would be on earth if people never died? We would never get "around to it." We could always put it off. One of the powerful aspects of a great goal is that it has an end, a time in which you are shooting to accomplish it. You start working on it because you know there is an end. As time goes by you work because you don't want to get behind. As it approaches, you work diligently because you want to meet the deadline. You may even have to break down a big goal into different measured parts time frames. That is okay. Set smaller goals and work them out in their own time. A S.M.A.R.T. goal has a timeline.

Be sure to spend some reflection time this week to make sure your goals fit the S.M.A.R.T. parameters. Go through the reflection questions below and the action points associated with them. Doing so will put a real engine in your goals and make them charged with power to help you accomplish your dreams.