This time of year is always hectic and sometimes downright chaotic. From juggling your holiday obligations to family gatherings to end-of-the-year job requirements, it can be hard to find time just for you. But that’s why it is so important to spend this time of the year doing a little soul-searching and personal reflection so that you can create your goals for the New Year.
Now, when I refer to “goals” I’m not talking about resolutions. In my previous blog post, we discussed that resolutions are a decision to do or not do something while goals are more productive because they have a defined target, a measurable result. However, it’s not just enough to say that you are going to set goals. A more effective approach is the use of SMART Goals. But I’m going to go one step further and borrow a concept from my colleague Amanda Baily, PCC of Flux and Flow Life Coaching. As Amanda likes to say, you shouldn’t just settle for a SMART Goal when you can create a SMARTER goal instead.
The first part of setting a SMARTER goal is making it as specific as possible. Many of my clients have a goal: Find a new job. But that isn’t specific enough. Technically, a new job could be anything from an astronaut to a fast food cashier. Instead, you need to be more precise about what kind of job you want.
If we apply the SMARTER approach, a specific goal would be: Find a Marketing Director position in the philanthropy space where I can use my leadership experience, marketing degree, and passion for helping others. In this example, the position is specifically defined as well as the attributes you want to use.
SMARTER goals are measurable. Think of a goal as a journey. How will you know when you have reached your destination? Using metrics to define where you are starting and your target are helpful. In addition, measuring your progress along the way is beneficial. Breaking down your goal into baby steps or “mini-deadlines” with target dates and milestones helps you experience your wins along the journey.
So, let’s look at a common resolution that is re-figured as a measurable goal. If you resolve that you want to lose weight, that is vague and unmeasurable. However, if you say, “I want to lose 35 pounds by June 1st”, you are being specific with a defined metric. Then, take it a step further and outline “baby steps” or mini-milestones. For example you could measure the loss by saying, “I will lose 1.5 pounds each week until I reach my goal of 35 pounds.”
Remember the job search example? You can make this goal measurable by saying “I want to find a new marketing director job by May 1st and increase my salary by 20 percent to the industry standard.” Boom! Now that’s specific and measurable! But you can also set mini-milestones for this goal such as:
- My resume will be completed by January 15th.
- I will complete my LinkedIn profile by January 22nd.
- I will attend two in-person networking events per month until I find the right position.
A goal should be attainable. First, ask yourself if your goal is even possible or realistic within the boundaries of your capabilities and resources. For instance, if your goal is to find a new job, you should not decide to be a brain surgeon if you have not had the proper education or training (unless you are willing to go back to school for many years). Just remember that it needs to be within the realm of possibility. In addition, you should also sit down and break your goal into those smaller “doable” goals that will make your ultimate endpoint easier to reach.
Finally, ask yourself if there are any obstacles that stand in your path. Do you need extra training or proficiencies for the goal to be attainable? What does the market place look like right now? Another question to ask yourself is if you are willing to adjust your goal because of attainability. For instance, are you willing to consider a different position where you are still using your skills, education, and strengths?
Being relevant is important in goal setting. If it isn’t important to you, then why bother doing it? To lose 35 pounds, you need to be committed and know why the weight loss is important to you. Ask yourself how this aligns with your core values as a person. Let’s look back at the job search goal: to work in the philanthropy field. If philanthropy, charity, and public service are not included in your personal core values, then it is probably not relevant for you. But, on the other hand, if you are committed to social issues and making a change in the world, then it would certainly be relevant and would be a SMARTER goal on your part. You may need to “tweak” your goals to make sure they align with your life and values.
Your goal needs to be timely. When are you going to start? With the New Year right around the corner, perhaps January 1st is a great time for a fresh start. For others, you may not have your plan ready by then and need to delay it slightly. In some cases, why wait? Today may be the perfect day to begin that plan. Once you determine your firm start date, set a timetable for mini-goals along the way with specific target dates.
Evaluating your goal’s progress along the way will help you succeed in reaching your target. Determine how and when you will evaluate and adjust your goal as needed. If your goal is to lose 35 pounds by June, maybe you should have a day set aside around February 1st where you check in, weigh yourself, identify your progress and reflect on your progress. This evaluation is also a good point to decide if you need to tweak or adjust your goal or expectations. If you are on target for your weight loss, then you can keep moving forward. But if you are off target, you should identify what needs to change to help you get back on track. Keep in mind, sometimes circumstances are beyond our control and you need to give yourself some grace.
It is important to reward yourself when you reach your goal! Remember those baby-step milestones? Well, when you reach those, you need to celebrate. Treat yourself so you can look forward to reaching your next mini-goal. When it comes to rewards, the only limit is your imagination. But some typical rewards might be as simple as taking an hour or two to read a book, going to a movie, or a splurge at your favorite retail store. Any reward is great as long as it doesn’t contradict or disrupt your goals.
Determining your SMARTER goals will contribute to your success in all areas of your life. If you need help in determining your goals, schedule a Complimentary Virtual Strategy Session.
What are your SMARTER goals? Share in the comments below.