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How to create SMART goals that won’t make you look dumb

Every now and then, you fail to meet your goals.

You didn’t get the grade you wanted. Or someone else got the job you applied for. And let’s not mention the scale here, because that’s just not cool.

These drawbacks frustrate you. They keep you awake at 2 am.

And it isn’t fair.

You try to laugh it off, but it gets to you. You cry yourself to sleep.

Damn those New Year’s resolutions. They always make you feel bad.

How do you create a smart goal, then?

Well, it’s actually easier than you think, as long as you ask SMART questions to help you stay on track.

Is your goal specific enough?

I often make the mistake of creating too broad goals. It’s frustrating. But now that you’re aware, you can say to yourself:

Is this goal specific enough? Can I see it? Feel it? Hear it?

Remember: the more specific your goal is, the easier it is to visualise the end result.

Visualisation is a powerful tool we can use in our own goal setting. It must not be overlooked (no pun intended) as suggested by studies you can read more about here and here.

Can you measure your goal?

Anything you grow, you need to measure. Financial goals are quite easy to measure – just check your bank account! But emotional goals is a different kettle of fish.

Personal growth falls into this category. We love to learn more about ourselves, but how can we tell we’re moving forward and hold ourselves accountable?

This is why I keep a diary and write a letter to my future self. It becomes a record of my past aspirations, failures and successes. Here I can more clearly “measure” how my own thoughts and actions have improved from last time.

Is your goal attainable?

If you feel that your goal is out of reach, plan to approach it one baby step at a time.

Reach out to people who are closer to your goal and ask them for advice. Learn from people who are farther down the path from you. Don’t let their wisdom and knowledge go to waste. If you approach them kindly and with respect, you will both reap the benefits of creating a new remarkable relationship.

Perhaps they can help you attain it quicker. Or they might even tell you not to bother.

Is your goal realistic?

I’d love to tell you that you’ll be a millionaire first thing in the morning.

But we’re both too smart for that. Be realistic about your goals. By all means, aim for the sky. But remember the plane that will get you there? Yeah, jump on it before you do anything else.

Also, for larger goals, cut them down. As the popular riddle goes:

“How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time!

Is your goal time sensitive?

Saying that you’ll achieve your goal “some time in the future” equals never. And this kind of goal setting will make you look dumb.

Instead, create a time frame for your goal, and use a date of accomplishment.

Choose a time frame that is realistic for your goal and remember to use the word by.

“I complete my goal by XX.”

Pro tip from my coach Gary Barnes: Make sure that any date of accomplishment is December 15. Any later than that, and you’ll want to spend time with your family and friends.

Wrap up

Ask yourself these 5 SMART questions every time you want to create a new goal.

  1. Is my goal Specific?
  2. Is my goal Measurable?
  3. Is my goal Attainable?
  4. Is my goal Realistic?
  5. Is my goal Time sensitive?

What are your goals for the coming year? Share them in the comments below. I am looking forward to reading them!

2 responses to “How to create SMART goals that won’t make you look dumb”

  1. C Avatar

    I think this is the first year that I’ve actually been successful in keeping my new years resolutions, for those exact reasons that you listed. Another tip that helped me a lot is to give yourself a limited amount of screw-ups. In previous years, I’d forget my new years resolution for a day or mess up and be like “welp, guess that’s that.. I’ll try again next year” haha. But this year I gave each resolution a different number of “allowed” screw-ups, depending on what it was and its difficulty, so that I couldn’t give up on the entire resolution just because I “missed a day” or something.

    1. Olle Lindholm Avatar

      Thanks for sharing your ideas. I really liked your idea about “allowed screw-ups”. 🙂

      I think that mindset would help a lot of people with their life goals.

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