A critical step in maximising goal achievement is the framing of our goals.
As a rule, vague goals are more difficult to achieve. They tend to lack focus and are hard to align with actions that result in their attainment. It is also more difficult to monitor progress towards their achievement.
Using the SMART scaffold to frame the development of goals increases the likelihood of achieving them. It is somewhat like a blueprint to ensure we develop well-structured, actionable and attainable goals.
A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Timely
When a goal is specific, it is clear and concise – there is little room for ambiguity. This creates mental clarity, promoting attention and focus.
When a goal is specific we can clearly articulate its benefits, helping us visualise attaining the goal.
That's not to say, however, that goals should not be reframed if and when required. Highly aspirational goals, for example, may need to be broken down into incremental sub-goals.
There is a saying attributed to Peter Drucker that; “If you can't measure it, you can't improve it".
Measuring our progress is critical to maintaining motivation. It gives us valuable feedback, promoting confidence we are on track to achieve the goal. Measuring our progress also provides opportunities to recalibrate the goal and modify its action points.
The milestones, or performance measures, we select to monitor progress towards attaining our goal should be an integral part of developing the goal – not an afterthought, or an addition. These milestones should also be easy to monitor.
Goals are not achieved through will alone – we also need actions that promote goal attainment. It may seem obvious, but unless the actions implemented are sustainable and create progress towards goal attainment; we are wasting our time and energy. This is where evidence-based practice can provide confidence that the actions we have chosen will make a difference.
Purpose and relevance are critical to sustaining motivation – otherwise, why would we bother? It is all about The why?
To create accountability around achieving a goal, it should be time framed. The time frame should be challenging, but realistic. Creating a sense of urgency increases our motivation and commitment to goal attainment.
Using the SMART scaffold to create goals is like any other skill – practice makes perfect. When will you start setting SMART goals?