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How To Make Ambitious And Achievable Goals For Great Success

How To Make Ambitious And Achievable Goals For Great Success

Perhaps you’ve been working extra hard towards a goal. You think you have the perfect plan, but you just don’t seem to be making progress. You don’t understand. Now you’re feeling a little tired, and you want to give up. Tomorrow won’t be any better, anyway.

Perhaps it’s true: you won’t succeed—just yet.

But the reason you get stuck isn’t that you don’t have the abilities to do it, or that you’re not putting in enough effort. Rather, you’re missing the point of goal-setting—you’ve made yourself the wrong goal in the first place.

To achieve what you want most, what you need is a SMART goal instead.

S-M-A-R-T is a set of 5 criteria to help you judge whether a goal is good or not. It helps you make better use of your time and energy, and achieve your goals effectively. Setting a SMART goal is the first step to success.

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When setting a new goal, or making changes to a current goal, you should ask yourself whether your goal fulfils these 5 criteria:[1][2]

S for Specific

It is important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. That way you can focus your time and energy on achieving your goal. Also, having a specific goal helps you stay away from distractions.

A simple trick to set a specific goal is to start with a verb.[3] This helps you remember exactly what you’re going to do.

M for Measurable

You want to know it when you’ve achieved your goal. You should also be able to tell how far you’ve come during the process, and how much further to go. Be specific with how much or how many about your goal.

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A for Achievable

Your goal should be possible within your abilities. Look at what skills you already have, and compare them to the skills needed to achieve your goal. If there’s a skill you don’t have yet, find out whether you’ll be able to learn it.

Make a plan of the exact things you’ll have to do for your goal, and make adjustments where you have to.

R for Realistic

Research into the facts and figures relevant to your goal. Then think about the resources available to you, such as your budget, time frame, the help you can get, etc. Ask yourself if your goal makes sense in your situation.

Also, be realistic about the effort you’re willing to put in. You may want to see if it’s a worthwhile goal to pursue in itself, or how it will fit in with your other goals.

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T for Time-bound

Think about when you want to achieve your goal. Setting a time limit adds to your motivation. Also, work out a timeline to keep track of your progress.

Keep in mind the total time you have while deciding the daily or weekly target. It will be a constant reminder to keep you going when you’re tempted to slack off.

Adapting SMART goal is a bit tricky, try to start by learning from different examples.

Here’re some examples of how you can can use the SMART formula to set goals and make them achievable.

Goal Example 1: I want to be more productive at work.

My problem: By the end of my work day, I always have lots of pending works still and have to work over time a lot. I figured that I spent too much time on the first few tasks, leaving no more time for the rest of the works.

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  • Specific: Finishing all the tasks planned for the day requires tasks prioritization as well as effort and time estimation. Prioritization, and time and effort estimation for tasks are my weaknesses. In 30 days, I will prioritize tasks efficiently and accurately estimate each task’s time and effort and do as planned.
  • Measurable: By the 30th day, I should be able to have my task list well-prioritized, with the time correctly estimated for at least 90% of the tasks. And I will be able to follow the estimated time and complete all the planned tasks on the list.
  • Achievable: I will set aside 10 minutes every day to organize and prioritize the tasks I should do the next day. I will also set aside another 5 to 10 minutes to review whether my estimation of time and effort is correct, and whether I can follow my plan in completing tasks.
  • Realistic: Setting aside around 20 minutes in total each day to plan for the 7 to 8 hours of tasks is realistic and beneficial to my work efficiency.
  • Time-Bound: In 30 days, I should be good at prioritizing and completing tasks according to my plan, ensuring my tasks will be done on time without extra working time.

Goal Example 2: I want to start to read more books.

My problem: I often struggle to find the right words to express my ideas in my assignments. I also have trouble with my grammar, and make lots of mistakes when I write.

  • Specific: I want to read more books so I can learn more vocabulary and sentence structures to use in my writing. In this semester, I will read books, take notes of new vocabulary and sentence structures, and revise them.
  • Measurable: By the end of this semester, I should be able to score at least 8 out of 10 in the ‘grammar and style’ component of my essays.
  • Achievable: I will finish reading 2 books of at least 300 pages each. I will read 15 pages each day, 5 days a week; and revise my reading notes for 45 minutes on each of the remaining 2 days of the week.
  • Realistic: Reading 15 pages each day is manageable. Also, reading consistently is an effective way for me to learn writing skills.
  • Time-Bound: I want to see improvement in grades from 6 to 8 (out of 10) by the end of this semester, which is 92 days in total.

Goal Example 3: I want to wake up earlier.

My problem: I am always 5 minutes late to work because I snooze my alarm too many times in the morning and don’t have enough time to get ready.

  • Specific: I currently set my alarm at 7am, but I wake up at 7:30am. I have to leave for work at 7:45am the latest, and I need 45 minutes to get ready. So my goal is to wake up at 7am.
  • Measurable: In 1 month, I should be able to get out of bed without pressing snooze. My first target is to press snooze only once within the first week.
  • Achievable: I can train myself to wake up earlier by putting my alarm further away from my bed, so I’m forced to get up. Also, I can set my favorite song as my alarm ringtone so I don’t feel annoyed by the default sound early in the morning.
  • Realistic: I usually go to bed by midnight. Waking up at 7am means I can get 7 hours’ sleep, which is enough for me. So waking up at 7am is a realistic goal.
  • Time-Bound: I will get up at 7am sharp and stop pressing snooze in 1 month.

Goal Example 4: I want to eat healthier.

My problem: I am overweight. I know what I should and shouldn’t eat, but I lack the motivation to make the right choices.

  • Specific: In order to practice making healthy decisions, in the next 3 months, I will make plans before meal times come around.
  • Measurable: I want to lose 5 kg in order to get back into the healthy weight range within 3 months. I will eat healthy meals for 6 days a week, an indulge in a nice dinner on Sunday.
  • Achievable: I can spend an hour on Sundays to plan my meals for the week. I can look online to see what restaurants near my office serve healthy options. I can also cook my own meals at weekends.
  • Realistic: I have the knowledge to make healthy choices, and the ability to cook myself healthy meals. Also, allowing myself 1 ‘cheat meal’ per week makes my goal manageable.
  • Time-Bound: I will make healthy food choices over the next 3 months, and build momentum for the future.

Goal Example 5: I want to spend more time with my family.

My problem: I don’t see my wife and son enough since I always let work take up my leisure time even when I’m at home.

  • Specific: I will spend more time to chat with my family every day and do fun activities with them at weekends.
  • Measurable: In the coming month, I will spend time with my family without thinking about work when I get home. I will spend an hour after dinner to chat with my wife and son every day, and go out with them on either Saturday or Sunday.
  • Achievable: I can switch off the email notifications on my phone when I’m with my family. I can also take some time to discuss with my family what activities to do at weekends when we have dinner.
  • Realistic: My job doesn’t require me to stand by outside of office hours. So having work-free time with my family shouldn’t be a problem.
  • Time-Bound: I will spend weekends with my family and pay my full attention on them when we’re together for the upcoming month, and make it a habit.

Break down big goals and take small steps, and you’ll achieve them eventually.

If you’re looking for some motivation on achieving big goals, watch this cool doodle video about breaking big goals down and taking small steps to reach the goals:

Reference

[1] Project Smart: SMART Goals
[2] Mind Tools: SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable
[3] OnStrategy: How to Set SMART Goals

More by this author

Wen Shan

Proud Philosophy grad. Based in HK.

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Last Updated on June 3, 2020

How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

How to Write SMART Goals (With SMART Goals Templates)

Everyone needs a goal. Whether it’s in a business context or for personal development, having goals help you strive towards something you want to accomplish. It prevents you from wandering around aimlessly without a purpose.

But there are good ways to write goals and there are bad ways. If you want to ensure you’re doing the former, keep reading to find out how a SMART goals template can help you with it.

The following video is a summary of how you can write SMART goals effectively:

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals

refer to a way of writing down goals that follow a specific criteria. The earliest known use of the term was by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review, however, it is often associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.[1]

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. There are other variations where certain letters stand for other things such as “achievable” instead of attainable, and “realistic” instead of relevant.

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What separates a SMART goal from a non-SMART goal is that, while a non-SMART goal can be vague and ill-defined, a SMART goal is actionable and can get you results. It sets you up for success and gives you a clear focus to work towards.

And with SMART goals comes a SMART goals template. So, how do you write according to this template?

How to Write Smart Goals Using a SMART Goals Template

For every idea or desire to come to fruition, it needs a plan in place to make it happen. And to get started on a plan, you need to set a goal for it.

The beauty of writing goals according to a SMART goals template is that it can be applied to your personal or professional life.

If it’s your job to establish goals for your team, then you know you have a lot of responsibility weighing on your shoulders. The outcome of whether or not your team accomplishes what’s expected of them can be hugely dependant on the goals you set for them. So, naturally, you want to get it right.

On a personal level, setting goals for yourself is easy, but actually following through with them is the tricky part. According to a study by Mark Murphy about goal setting, participants who vividly described their goals were 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully achieve their goals.[2] Which goes to show that if you’re clear about your goals, you can have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

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Adhering to a SMART goals template can help you with writing clear goals. So, without further ado, here’s how to write SMART goals with a SMART goals template:

Specific

First and foremost, your goal has to be specific. Be as clear and concise as possible because whether it’s your team or yourself, whoever has to carry out the objective needs to be able to determine exactly what it is they are required to do.

To ensure your goal is as specific as it can be, consider the Ws:

  • Who = who is involved in executing this goal?
  • What = what exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • Where = if there’s a fixed location, where will it happen?
  • When = when should it be done by? (more on deadline under “time-bound”)
  • Why = why do I want to achieve this?

Measurable

The only way to know whether or not your goal was successful is to ensure it is measurable. Adding numbers to a goal can help you or your team weigh up whether or not expectations were met and the outcome was triumphant.

For example, “Go to the gym twice a week for the next six months” is a stronger goal to strive for than simply, “Go to the gym more often”.

Setting milestone throughout your process can also help you to reassess progress as you go along.

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Attainable

The next important thing to keep in mind when using a SMART goals template is to ensure your goal is attainable. It’s great to have big dreams but you want your goals to be within the realms of possibility, so that you have a higher chance of actually accomplishing them.

But that doesn’t mean your goal shouldn’t be challenging. You want your goal to be achievable while at the same time test your skills.

Relevant

For obvious reasons, your goal has to be relevant. It has to align with business objectives or with your personal aspirations or else, what’s the point of doing it?

A SMART goal needs to be applicable and important to you, your team, or your overall business agenda. It needs to be able to steer you forward and motivate you to achieve it, which it can if it holds purpose to something you believe in.

Time-Bound

The last factor of the SMART goals template is time-bound (also known as “timely”). Your goal needs a deadline, because without one, it’s less likely to be accomplished.

A deadline provides a sense of urgency that can motivate you or your team to strive towards the end. The amount of time you allocate should be realistic. Don’t give yourself—or your team—only one week if it takes three weeks to actually complete it. You want to set a challenge but you don’t want to risk over stress or burn out.

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Benefits of Using a SMART Goals Template

Writing your goals following a SMART goals template provides you with a clearer focus. It communicates what the goal needs to achieve without any fuss.

With a clear aim, it can give you a better idea of what success is supposed to look like. It also makes it easier to monitor progress, so you’re aware whether or not you’re on the right path.

It can also make it easier to identify bottlenecks or missed targets while you’re delivering the goal. This gives you enough time to rectify any problems so you can get back on track.

The Bottom Line

Writing goals is seemingly not a difficult thing to do. However, if you want it to be as effective as it can be, then there’s more to it than meets the eye.

By following a SMART goals template, you can establish a more concrete foundation of goal setting. It will ensure your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—attributes that cover the necessities of an effectively written goal.

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

Reference

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