Are you SMART? No, not intelligent, but that helps. But when you establish your goals do you do it the SMART way? Many people do the old New Years resolutions , guaranteed to fail. There are many ways to set goals, and none is foolproof. But i have learned that using the SMART method increases your chances of success. So what does SMART stand for and how does it help?

S is for specific. Too many goals get fuzzy or vague. “I want to improve my performance at work” . “I want to loose weight” “I want to be more healthy” These are aspirations, and good ones, but they are too vague to be goals. What do you want to improve about your performance at work – being on time, completing all assignments, achieving a specific level of accuracy”? How much weight do you want to lose, by when? What do you consider good health – eliminating junk food, quiting smoking, getting some exercise?

M is for measurable. You need to be able to measure your progress to know if you have achieved your goal. In the weight loss example how much do you want to lose and by when.? Having interim goals can help your progress – lose 2 lbs a week for 3 months gives you both a goal of weekly loss and an overall goal of 24 total for the 3 months. Thus you can track your progress.

A is for achievable. Don’t set goals that you know you won’t achieve. It will only discourage you. It is good to stretch yourself but be reasonable. Don’t believe every extreme weight loss story that goes viral and don’t starve yourself either.

R is for relevant. It means the goals you set must make sense and matter to you. They should be your goals, not somebody else’s. They must make sense and fit with other goals that you have. Nothing is worse that pursuing goals that have been put upon you and for which you don’t care.

T is timebound. A goal cannot be openended. It cannot stretch on forever. It should be for a specific time period and you and everyone else involved must know when the time is up. Some goals just remain out of reach. When you set a time for completion and the completion doesn’t come you can reassess and set a new goal that better relates to what is capable. But you need to set a clear date when you now whether or not you have achieved it.

Many people fudge on these details because they are afraid they will fail and if they aren’t specific, etc, they believe no one will know they failed. But as someone once said “if you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time”. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – it shows you’re trying. Be SMART about your goals.