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Have you ever desired to achieve a goal, but as you went along the process of accomplishing it, your plans to reach that goal changed? As a result, your overall goal eventually changed because of the adversity you faced. This likely happened because you grew weary, battling thoughts and feelings that your goals were unattainable.
However, the real problem with achieving your goals was not because of the circumstances and adversities you faced… but in planning the process of reaching your goals. That is why you need to read this article.
Today, we will examine SMART Goals and the tools you can use to stay on track with those goals. Then we will explore “7 Benefits of Setting & Achieving SMART Goals.” In the end, I believe you will be empowered to reach some goals you've desired for some time.
What are SMART Goals?
Smart goals are goals that are attained in a SMART way.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-based
As the saying goes, “Begin with the end in mind.” And if we fail to make plans, we plan to fail. Therefore, when achieving any goal, we must have a plan. However, those plans are best achieved intelligently, relying on the benefits of SMART goals.
So let’s get started.
We must first ask if our goals are SPECIFIC. To make plans more effective, they need to be narrowed down and specific. They answer the six W’s:
Then our goals must be MEASURABLE. So, when our goals are measurable, we can define what is considered progress in the middle of the process of achieving our goals.
Moreover, our plans must be ATTAINABLE. Therefore, when our goals are attainable, we ensure that they can be reasonably accomplished within a certain time frame.
Furthermore, smart goals are RELEVANT. They should be in line with our long-term objectives and personal core values.
Lastly, smart goals should be TIME-BASED. When our goals are time-based, they are ambitious, realistic, and have an end date to prioritize our tasks. In addition, time-based goals help us to stay motivated.
Some of the tools you can use for planning and staying on track with your smart goals are:
Depending on your own unique sense of organization and preferences, these tools are useful in helping you enjoy the benefits of smart goals.
7 Benefits of Setting & Achieving SMART Goals
1. Smart goals help to keep you motivated.
The period between the time a seed is planted and the harvest coming into full bloom is called a time of waiting. The waiting period for any project or goal is the hardest. However, SMART goals help you focus on the timing of your goal in the correct perspective.
For example, you may have a goal of losing 50 pounds in 6 months. So, if you have lost 25 pounds in the first 2 months, but lose none in the 3rd month, you can remain motivated and encouraged. According to your SMART goal, you are still on course to lose your desired amount of weight in the expected time frame. Furthermore, even though you had a setback and have gone through a difficult month in the process, you remain motivated because you are still on course.
2. They help you to achieve your goals on time.
Knowing how much time you have to accomplish a goal makes you more likely to do what you need to do to get it done on time. If we do not set a solid time frame for our goals, we are less likely to see our plans through, continually putting them off for tomorrow. The sad thing is, tomorrow may never come. So, with any goal or project, one of the most important things to know is “how much time you have to complete it.”
3. Helps you stay focused on the end results.
Many people say that we should focus on the process more than on the end result. This is because it causes us to consistently look at how far we have to go to achieve the goal and see our shortcomings. However, focusing on the results you want to see at the end of a project is one of the most powerful benefits of SMART goals.
Focusing on the end result will keep you going when the going gets tough and you suffer setbacks during the process. It is a reminder that it will all be worth it in the end.
4. Smart goals provide direction.
Focusing on specific goals helps to keep us on track. When we aren't straightforward in our goals, we are all over the place. This results in many half-completed plans that we have started and stopped over time. In addition, having direction really helps us keep our priorities in order and tackle the most important goals first.
SMART goals are similar to a family who is going on a trip. Before getting on the highway and making the trip, the driver looks at specific routes on their GPS. Then they plan the best way to get to the destination they are going to. Moreover, all roads that the driver intends to navigate are ones that will lead the family to its desired location.
Again, like a GPS, smart goals provide direction.
5. Identify areas that need to be improved.
When our goals are SMART, they are measurable. Meaning we can look at what we have accomplished at any given time to see if we are really making progress toward achieving it or not. This is one of many great benefits of SMART goals.
For instance, employees can be busy working throughout their 8-hour shift in a workplace. However, is the work performed really progressing toward the company's goal of making a profit? It needs to be measured.
I know a lady named Tammy that works in insurance. Her company's goal may be to write 45 new auto insurance policies for the week… yet, at the start of her week, she is bombarded with several phone calls and customers coming into her office, seeking to file claims or get assistance with issues on their policies.
While Tammy feels she’s been busy, her company may feel her performance did not ‘measure’ up to the goals they had in mind for her. So, they offer Tammy overtime… time to focus on calling potential customers, offering them quotes, and writing policies to achieve her target. In the company's eyes, this plan will improve Tammy's progress in achieving the goal for the week.
6. Forces you out of your comfort zone.
For so many of us, setting goals is not something we usually do. We don’t do this in many situations because we fear that we will fail at achieving those goals. However, when we set SMART goals, we give ourselves specific goals, so we aren't all over the place. These goals are measurable to keep track of our progress and stay accountable. They are attainable, so that we aren't putting unreasonable expectations on ourselves to accomplish our desires. It helps us get out of our comfort zone and eliminate excuses that a goal is impossible to achieve.
Furthermore, these goals should always be relevant to us. If we are to accomplish something we value in life, we are more likely to get out of our comfort zone to make it happen. Lastly, the fact that these goals are time-bound pushes us out of our comfort zone and helps us in times when we would otherwise procrastinate or give up.
7. Helps you to live with fewer regrets.
When we fail to set SMART goals, we run the risk of lacking the focus needed to stay on course. Not having a plan makes it all too easy to change course and start something new when things get hard with our current task. In addition, we may even strive to accomplish goals that were not planned out in a SMART way.
One of the worst feelings in life is regret. That feeling you get when you realize you’ve been traveling down a road leading to something unrealistic or unattainable. Why is that? It’s likely because your goals were not specific, measurable, attainable, relevant or time-bound. Had they followed the SMART rule, you wouldn’t have wasted your time… remaining motivated along the journey as you hit your benchmarks.
Final Thoughts on 7 Benefits of Setting & Achieving SMART Goals
You can reap the benefits of setting SMART goals when it comes to matters of home, business, education, finance, or health. This method works in all facets of life, provided it is executed properly.
Thanks to tools and online resources – such as vision boards, apps, and templates – there really is no excuse to fail. These will help you stay on track with your goals. Remember, the hardest part is taking action.
If you’re made it to the end of this article, congratulations! You are one step closer to crushing your goals by following the SMART plan. Smart goals give legs to your dreams and feet to your plans… helping move them along from an idea to a tangible, achievable goal.
Now, if you feel like this goal-setting method isn't for you, here are some alternatives to SMART goals that you can try.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.