SMART Goals: The Action planning method

 For many years I would have this goal to save money or to build my credit, even to not be broke after paying all of my bills for one week.  I love everything about goals! I love the initial motivation you get from setting them, planning them, then comes the action part. Hello? Where did all of the inspiration go? I would ask myself every time.  After realizing that it became even harder to hold myself accountable, I needed a more strategic plan. 

Let me introduce you to SMART goals, S (Specific), M (Measure), A (Achievable), R ( Relevant), and T (Time-bound).  Its origin is most referred from the November 1981 Issue of Management. 

Review. George T Doran as a consultant and former director of corporate planning, published a paper called, “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”

SMART Goals Template Free download

 I had an idea what it was, but since it seems like more work to me, I didn’t even give it a chance. I’ve always wanted things to be easy years ago but realized my goals were not. Instead, I was working towards my goals less effectively, which ended up not helping me. You know that saying Work Smarter, not Harder. At this point, I knew I had to plan using the SMART method. 

Create a List of Goals

make a list of goals to start the smart  goal method

There are many different types of goals, but most of them are either personal or professional. Personal purposes, or as some would call Life goals, are improving how we are living. Life goals could be physical health, mental health, financial wellness, family, mindset, and environment such as traveling. Professionals are more about growth and income-driven—development within your current job, entrepreneurial goals, continuing education. 

There is no magic number of goals to have. I would say write as many as you want. If you’re going to sort your goals by ten years, five years, one year, this could help make them more measurable. The real work comes in when you start to plan. After you have your list of goals putting them into action is our next step.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are the best ways to see how you can realistically accomplish this goal.

You might be already asking yourself.

How does the SMART goal method work?

To me, it’s like filling in the blanks, answering the many questions when planning out your goal. The S.M.A.R.T. acronym breaks down your goal into actionable steps. The benefits are that it helps define your objective, creates clarity and motivation. And lastly, what we are all striving for, the completion date.

S SPECIFIC

You want to be very clear about your goal. Nothing vague ever gets accomplished. Defining your goal is the first step in this whole process. There are a few ways to make your goal clear and straight to the point. Starting with action words, What do you want to do? Do you want to CREATE something?  WRITE a novel? PUBLISH a book? PLAN a vacation?  Notice how all of those are action words.  Look at your goal and see how you can turn it into an actionable goal.  

create an action plan for your smart goal

The best way to finish this first section is to ask the 5 “W”s

What, Why, Who, Where, and Which

Starting with the first “W,” the “WhatWhat do you want to accomplish.

Think about what you are trying to accomplish; add as many details as you want.

Next…

Why is this goal important?

What is the main reason for the goal? Your reasoning comes into play when you think of your Why?

I like to think that anyone’s Why is the primary motivator for anything that gets done. Why do you set your alarm in the morning? To wake up on time to get to work.  Thinking of getting to work on time will motivate you always to set that alarm.

Who is involved?

Consider who needs to be involved in achieving the goal. Is this a team effort at home, are family members involved?  If this is a group at work, it’s good to know who is needed to be apart of this project.

Where is it located?

If this is a personal goal, knowing: Where might not always be necessary. If there is a location, let’s say a vacation, or to a property in a specific area, you might want to identify it here. 

Which resources or limits are involved?

Determine the resources you need to accomplish this goal., which can help decide if your goal is realistic. Do you need to take a course, learn from a coach.? If your goal is to learn a new language, you might just need a resource to make this actionable.

M MEASURABLE

To track your goal, you need to figure out how you would measure your progress.  You have a goal, and you need to stay motivated to meet your deadline.  Measuring your progress makes your goal more tangible. The improvements that evidence you are making towards your goals. So how do we measure our goals?

Ask yourself…

How much?  How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Measure your goals expectations

A ACHIEVABLE

Goals should be achievable, not impossible. Think about your overlooked opportunities. When I want to do something new, I look for someone else that has accomplished the goal already. Have others done it successfully before? What steps did they need to take that I haven’t already? Do I new to maximize my time more? If I feel that I need more time? Adjust my schedule?  Stretching your abilities but remains possible. Don’t try to overdo it but make it reasonably to accomplish it during a specific period. 

Ask yourself these questions.

How can I accomplish this goal? Imagine yourself implementing these steps. What are you doing to see yourself to the end?

How realistic is the goal? Are there any constraints like in your finances? 

R RELEVANT

Your SMART goal in this section should align with your values or long-term goals. Make sure your goal really matters to you.

Ask yourself…Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? 

Going back to it being realistic. Is the goal reachable,  given the time and resources? And what matters. Are you able to commit to achieving the goal?

T Time-bound

Start with this question. Does my goal have a deadline?

What is the Target date, aka the deadline? By when do you want to achieve your goal? When thinking of the completion date, make sure the timeframes are realistic. Trying to cram in a month’s worth of work in a week will leave you burnt out or unmotivated. Map out the amount of time needed to complete the task and the time you have available.

Spread the task out accordingly to the amount of time it takes to complete each activity. What can be done a month from now? A week from now? What can you do today? 

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SMART Goals Examples

My SMART goal example is one of the topmost goals that many people make every year. Can you guess? It’s getting out of debt.

How many people you know are attempting to get out of debt and increase their credit score?

Debt is like baggage that is better left behind. Click To Tweet

That is why millions of people make a goal to get rid of debt every year. Eliminating debt sounds harder to accomplish than what the steps entail. One is coming up with a plan, this time using SMART goals. 

Example 1 – You want to get out of debt

S (Specific) How can I specify my goal?

 I will pay off 12,000s worth of debt in 3 years to become debt-free.

Think of the 5 Ws and be specific. In this case, where is off the table. 

What– Action word Pay off. What do you want to do? To pay off or eliminate consumer debt. 

Who needs in the process? Well, mainly you but, you can seek a financial counselor for assistance. Otherwise, you would just need to contact the creditors.

Why? Why is this important to you? For financial freedom? For an increase in your net worth? 

Which resources are needed? Probably your full credit report. List of contacts for the creditors and a debt tracker worksheet. Suppose you need financial consulting or might consider debt consolidation. These are options to look into if this will help you reach your goal faster.

M (Measurable) How would I measure my progress?

I will make a list of all my delinquent accounts from smallest to largest. Each month I will save 350 dollars. After the quarter, I will close at minimum one account.

A  (Achievable) How can we achieve success?

I will contact each creditor for the accounts on my list and advise my intent to eliminate the debt.

Any settlement opportunities will be noted to save money. I will pay any accounts under $350.00 first, then the larger accounts I will divide by 350 to determine the number of payments.

R (Relevant) How can my actions become realistic?

To save $350 each month, I will include this in my monthly budget and eliminate unnecessary expenses. I will put any additional funds aside in a separate account just for debt repayment. I will create a debt repayment tracker to keep track of my progress. 

T (Time-bound)What is my due date?

My deadline to accomplish this goal is in 3 years. At least one or more accounts are closed every quarter. I will review my progress monthly, on the last day of each month. My first account needs to be closed by…date, my review date is….

How I use SMART goals today 

Anytime I have a large project or goal, I break them down using the SMART method. Some say there is less room to be creative because it’s very orderly. I’m naturally a creative person. At first, most of my ideas begin with high enthusiasm. I get one idea, then another, I’m generally all over the place. To not waste time, I implement them, and then again I’m stuck. I find anything you plan can be reviewed at any point.

When the steps become unrealistic, change the time allowed and the measurement. When the achievable part becomes out of reach, gain more resources. If the entire framework has changed, resort back to your why. Even starting over from scratch and then breaking it down again works. Every action step you take brings you closer to your goal. When it is a SMART action, it’s part of the excellent plan.

SMART GOAL Wrap up

S – Specific

Your goal should be specific, make sure you use action words to define what you want to accomplish. When coming up with your goal, add as many details as you can to narrow down what is most important.

M – Measurable

How you measure your progress? Your goal should be measurable; otherwise, you wouldn’t know if you’re succeeding. The goal should be trackable. Seeing progress will increase motivation and push you to move forward.

A- Achievable

The goal should be realistic but still outside your limitations. What else is a goal for? It’s accomplishing something that you want to achieve. The keyword Achieve because it’s easy to think that you can accomplish so many things in a short amount of time.

R-Relevant

Each of your SMART Goals is a part of a long-term goal or value. Make sure this goal you are breaking down aligns with that long-term goal. Is this relevant to the big picture? Is it necessary? We don’t want to waste our time if it’s pulling up away what we truly want.

T-Timebound

What is the deadline? By when or how would I know that I’ve completed this goal. This is not a permanent time frame, it should be realistic but also not too far. If you giving yourself to the end of the year, something you can do in a month, this is the complete opposite of motivation. You need the push to know when you’re reaching the end or at least close to it.

SMART Goals Template

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