We’ve all heard of SMART Goals: They are ensuring your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented and Time-based. But why do specifying these make the goal SMART? Well, if they’re done right they will make your goal much easier and less overwhelming to achieve. Think about using the SMART principle to set goals as inputting your destination into a GPS that will guide your journey there.
A SMART Goal Is Like A GPS
We all, at one time or another, use a satellite navigation system, or GPS, to find our way around. It really is a wonderful convenience – no more messing around with map books, missing a turn, or simply getting lost. Just let the GPS tell you exactly where to go, when to turn, and when you have arrived at your destination.
When you start off, the GPS is great as a map, telling you where you are, in which direction you are travelling – and not much else. To derive the full benefit, and get detailed directions, you have to give it information – you have to give it a destination. Once it has the destination, it will happily tell you how to get there.
But when you tell it where you want to go, you have to be specific. It’s no good if you input just the street address without the number. Certainly we have all found ourselves in completely the wrong place because we omitted to ensure that the suburb was correctly entered. To avoid oversight leading us down the wrong path, we have to be absolutely pedantic when we specify the destination to ensure that we get to the correct address.
The human brain had a GPS long before we had them in our cars, or on our smartphones. It’s called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), and it’s located in the brain stem. It works with the Law of Attraction – in fact, the Law of Attraction wouldn’t exist without your RAS.
How Does Our Mind Work On Our Smart Goals For Us?
The RAS works to help you filter all the buzz around you to identify what is important to you at the time. So, for example, when you are thinking about buying a certain make of car, you suddenly see them all around you – not because there are suddenly more of them, but because your RAS is attuned to filtering them from all the other vehicles on the road.
So how does this help you? In the same way, as the GPS is wonderfully useful when you give it a destination, so your RAS is a wonderful tool when you tell it what you want to achieve. Once you tell it where you want to go in your life, your RAS will start giving you directions on how to get there.
Just like the GPS, you have to give it a destination – and that destination is your goals. These could be your life goals, your 5-year goals, or your 90-day goals. This is why goal setting so effective in helping people achieve great things.
In giving your RAS your destination – your goals – you have to be very detailed, just like when setting the destination on the GPS. Being detailed means that your goals have to be S.M.A.R.T, which means:
When specifying the address for the GPS, you need to input the number, the street name and the suburb. That will ensure that you get to your destination. When you’ve input your destination into the GPS you as the driver will still need to make the trip, and every turn and meter driven will be a small but necessary step to your destination. So how does this relate to goal setting? An effective goal will act like a GPS and give you clear instructions on every step of the way. To help you with that, we’ve created a goal to action worksheet, a structured approach to creating a compelling goal and working towards it.
Let’s see how this will work with goals….
Putting It All Together: A SMART Goal Example
Let’s say that your goal is to get fit. That’s pretty loose. What does fit mean? Does it mean the same thing to you as it means to a footy player? To a track star? Probably not. So, if you are to go to a fitness trainer to help you to reach your goal, you’re going to have to be a lot more specific than that.
The first thing you’re going to have to do is to fulfill the requirement of being SPECIFIC. So, for example, you will tell your trainer that the level of fitness you want to attain is to be able to run for 10km. That will help the trainer to design a program for you.
The next thing is that you will need to be able to measure your performance so that you and the trainer can tell when you have achieved the goal. Is the 10km to be run over a period of weeks? Days? Hours? To make the goal really measurable, you would have to specify the time in which you want to run the 10km – say in no more than an hour. That will give a real mark against which to measure your performance so that you will know when you have achieved the goal.
Now you have to check that your goal is ACHIEVABLE. Is it reasonable to expect you, at your age, and with your body and history, to run 10km in an hour? If that is only achievable in your dreams, you are setting yourself up for failure, and your RAS will not work properly. It will be like putting a non-existent street number in your GPS. So you have to make sure that your goal is achievable, and, if 1 hour is too short a time for you to complete the 10km, the goal will need to be changed to a time that is achievable.
The goal then needs to be oriented towards a RESULT. So the result that you may have in mind is not just to be able to run 10km in an hour, but to be able to qualify for the city’s Pier to Pub run, which requires the ability to run the distance in no longer than an hour.
Without setting a TIME to your goal, it is really no more than a dream. To make it a goal, you would have to tell your trainer that you need to achieve your goal by November, which is when the qualifying run is held.
You now have a goal that is suitable to input into your RAS. The goal is:
to be sufficiently fit to be able to run 10km
in an hour
which is within your capabilities
so that you can qualify for the Pier to Pub race
by November, when the qualifying run is held.
Your GPS has now been set. All you have to do to achieve your goal is to follow the directions, without deviation. Your RAS will do the rest. We’ve created a free resource: The dream builder, or personal goal generator, which will help you set out your goals and how you’ll be able to achieve them.
Want to start setting SMART Goals that will power you to your destination? Book a chat with Lex Tannenbaum today.