I was never a fan of goal-setting. I studiously avoided writing out goals for my annual performance plan and when it came to that time of year for review, usually the dreaded first few days of January, I just said to myself, well I know what I want to do and that’s enough. Sometimes it was. More than often, of course, it wasn’t and disappointment set in, fast.
I came across the SMART format for addressing goals many years ago when I was developing my first leadership training programme, and of course, under the area of time management, it made a lot of sense. Since then I have gone through years of honing and developing material and support, in training and coaching, so the SMART method is now, for me, SMARTER. If you really want to achieve change in your life and have goals you always felt you needed to reach, but never got there, this really could make the difference for you. You can also use it to help others set and reach their goals, which is pretty useful, especially in a leadership role. There are many variations out there on what SMART stands for (they all send the same messages albeit in different ways), for me SMARTER goals are:
S – specific – specific, clear, written in the present tense
M – measurable – what will it look like and feel like when achieved, what are the expected outcomes, can they be measured
A – agreed – agreed with yourself: challenging yourself on whether they are totally your own goals or the wishes of someone else; how motivated out of 10 are you to achieving them, you need to be at least an 8 out of 10 or the will to achieve is not there
R – realistic: have you tested out all the options (see my previous blog post on GROWing your own goals for help with this) to see which ones are the most realistic and attainable; have you examined the obstacles and challenges you are likely to meet along the way and how to overcome these
T – timebound: with specific milestones and deadlines set in time
Through my experience in coaching, I have come to learn that two more add-ons to the well-known SMART format make a huge difference:
E – ethical: examining whether the goals will affect anyone else in your life, who else is involved, how ethical are the goals, do they sit well with your values
R – rewarded: I firmly believe that all goals once attained (and also milestones along the way) need to be encouraged to flourish; so celebrate your successes and reward yourself when you get there.
SMARTER goals get done, it’s that simple.
Anne Marie Crowley, based in Cork, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business. Anne Marie is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.