On Goal Setting — How The SMART Rule Can Take You Places
Sometimes the biggest peak in productivity comes from a single method that can change your whole perspective.
When I reminisce and try to follow back my personal development, I ultimately arrive at two moments that greatly shape who I am today.
The first moment was the time I felt almost lost in the context of my future professional aspirations. Here I was, just finished college, wondering in what direction my next step shall take. I had a solid education in journalism, yet my hobby evolved around creating websites and learning about web development in general. As I stood at the professional crossroad of my life, I figured I needed to ask myself:
What would make me the happiest? What would spark my inner engine, pushing me to be better and better every single day?
Once I found the answer, I knew right there and then that I needed a goal.
The second moment had to do with that goal in particular.
I discovered I wanted to establish my own business and focus my entire energy and knowledge on building websites for enterprises. At first, of course, I felt rather puzzled, not knowing where to start or even how I’m supposed to put my plan into action. I had so many steps and ideas in my head and not a single clue how I’m supposed to arrange them all together in order to achieve success.
And then it hit me: Having a goal is great, but you need to split it into several smaller goals next. That is if you want a clear focus on a precise and working plan ahead.
Why splitting a goal into several smaller goals is your go-to productivity plan?
Before focusing on that question particularly, let’s first discuss why having a goal in the first place is essential.
Have you met the drifters? That’s what I call people who appear to be drifting throughout life without apparent reason. It seems like life is just happening for them instead of them taking control and making life happen because of their actions. Call it designing of life, if you want: Whenever we make certain decisions and set goals for ourselves in the long run, we set a course for life around us to arrange itself in a way that fulfills our initial planning.
If you don’t have goals or anything to reach out for, can you really witness any difference between today and tomorrow?
So having a goal is the ultimate way you can actually navigate the course of actions in your life. But sometimes we may come up with a rather huge goal — one so enormous and ambitious that it can overwhelm us before we even begin on turning it into reality. The downside? The goal might seem so unattainable to the point when we just prefer to call it quits. So what helps in situations like these?
Splitting the goal into smaller components, of course.
When you do so, you’ll soon witness you can easily come up with better working plans that don’t seem so overwhelmingly big. Besides, whenever you manage to reach a certain smaller goal, you witness an incredible boost to your motivation so you gather enough stamina to keep up the good work with the next goal in line.
Focusing on one smaller goal at a time helps you to gain perspective on the bigger goal as well. It’s a great way for you to constantly develop your approaches so that you can ensure even better ones the next time around.
Having smaller goals is great but how can we choose those same goals in order to ensure success? Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to implement certain productivity hacks — let’s discuss the SMART rule.
Choosing clever techniques when setting goals — the SMART rule
Once we’ve come across the realization that it’s important to have plans, now it’s time to address the next logical step — how can we actually choose the right goals in terms of productivity, time management, and utility?
Because here is the thing — once we get motivated and come up with a plan, we tend to set our mind loose and allow it to come up with plenty of different scenarios. What we often don’t realize is that sometimes those hypothetical scenarios can actually drive us away from our end goals. Oftentimes when emotions kick in, we let them rule our decision-making processes and fail at carefully and adequately setting all the smaller goals along the way.
That’s why we need a system, a rule that can help us make better decisions and clear our judgment — I present to you the SMART rule!
Its main purpose is to help you set realistic goals through careful investigation, as well as skills and time assessment.
How to write SMART goals (with examples)
5-second summary Meet Jane. She's a product manager at a mid-sized tech company - let's call it Techfirm, Inc. Jane has…
In order to better understand what this system is all about, we better study its actual meaning — in reality, the SMART rule’s name is an acronym that showcases its very purpose:
- S stands for being specific
We all know that setting goals should always go hand in hand with being specific since vague goals and expectations rarely turn out as expected. When you’re specific in your goals, you begin to see clearly the right path that can bring you to the desired results. So when goal planning, try to envision the result in as many details as possible.
- With M we aim at measurable goals
Upon starting, you should be able to tell how much effort and resources achieving that goal would take from you. This way you can prepare properly in advance and foresee the majority of obstacles and difficulties along the way.
- In the SMART rule, A stands for having attainable goals
Don’t forget that splitting a goal into several smaller goals aims at elevating your motivation and making it easier for you to follow the initial plan. So it’s important for your goals to be attainable in the first place. Think about it — if you decide on unattainable goals, where would your motivation go when you hit the wall?
- R is here to remind us that we also need to set realistic goals
It again has to do with motivation: if we decide on something that appears to be unrealistic and incredibly hard to achieve, we’d perhaps get discouraged to the point when we abandon the whole concept of planning. So the SMART rule advises beginning with small and realistic goals whose success will put you in the right mood.
- In the end, we finish up with the T that goes for timely goals
When planning, make sure to set specific time frames for your goals. This way you’ll stay concentrated and motivated in order to achieve your plans in a timely manner. If you let your goals without specific deadlines, you risk getting distracted and avoiding to the point of letting go of your entire project in the first place.
The SMART method is actually a great way for you to set goals whenever you come up with a plan or have a project in mind.
Many great ideas have failed in time just because their owners couldn’t figure out a way to put their plan into action. Don’t become part of the statistic — instead, implement the SMART technique the next time you plan your future endeavors. I promise you’d witness a big difference.