How to Set SMART Goals in 3 Steps
Goal setting can feel sometimes like an overwhelming task and it really needn’t be. I will share with you two simple techniques I have used for years and walk you through the process.
1. Make a wish list
We all know this famous quote below and it could not be more true. But before we start setting goals, let's in fact do create a wish list first!
The Brainstorming Technique
One of my favourite techniques when it comes to goal setting is brainstorming. It is simple, creative and there are no set rules. Spend as much time as needed on this page until you feel you have captured your vision for the year ahead.
Using the ‘Imagining My Future’ page, draw four boxes on each corner of the shaded area to cover all four key areas of your life: business or career (or both!), health & fitness, home & family and personal. Then think about what you would like to achieve by the end of this year and jot down your ideas next to a relevant box.
At this stage, anything goes, - from big ideas, to little ones. From buying a house, changing careers to going to bed at 11pm to feel more rested. Write down anything that pops into your head.
It does not mean you will have to do all these things, but it will help you in the next step of the goal-setting process, - identifying what you want to focus on.
When you are finished, look through the page and highlight items that stand out to you/you really want to happen in this year. These items will become your master goals for the year ahead.
Write Yourself a Letter Technique
In a way, similar to brainstorming, writing yourself a letter lets your mind wander and be open. There are no rules here either, simply think of it as journaling.
If you are using this technique, start writing down what you would like to happen this year. Dream big! Once you are done with the letter, read it back to yourself and highlight key themes. These items will become your goals.
*Tip: do not feel the pressure to come up with a huge list of goals for each area of your life. Each year is different and there are no set rules on how many goals one should have. Plan for your life.
Regardless of the technique you pick, here is a small list of suggestions for you to think about when imagining your future:
- What do you want to spend your energy and time on this year?
- What is that one thing you really want and have not had time to do?
- What motivates you?
- What are you good at?
Business & Career
- Where would you like to progress in your career?
- Are you happy where you are?
- Do you need/want to improve your skillset?
- Would you like to start a new business?
- If started, where do you want to take your business this year?
Home & Family
- House renovations?
- Family holidays?
- More quality time with your loved ones?
- Adopt a pet?
Health & Fitness
- What are your fitness goals?
- What new healthy habits you would like to adopt?
- Any vices you would like to drop?
- Learn a new skill? Find a hobby?
- Start/stop dating, get married?
- Make new friends?
- Read more?
- Spend more time outside?
2. Set SMART goals for the year ahead
Once you have identified what you would like to focus on this year, it is time to set some SMART goals!
So, what is a SMART goal anyway? For a goal to be considered SMART, it needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. In simple terms, a wish becomes a real plan!
You an entrepreneur and in your brainstorming session, under the Business & Career category, you came up with a high-level plan to increase your business’s year on year revenue.
As it stands now, this is a very high-level goal and it needs to be converted into being a SMART one.
- S (Specific) - increase revenue by 25% by the end of the year
- M (Measurable) - the increase of 25%
- A (Achievable) - to be fleshed out in the ‘Steps To Make It Happen’ box - what will you do to achieve this increase?
- R (Relevant) - yes, assuming you are running a business
- T (Time bound) - 12 months
Under ‘Steps to Make It Happen’, think of actions you need to take to reach this goal (this is the A of SMART: achievable). This could be, - introduce new products, increase prices, reduce costs, focus on marketing etc.
Now, look back at the ‘Imagine My Future’ page, take your wish list and turn highlighted items into SMART goals for each area of your life (where applicable): business & career, home & family, health & fitness, personal.
3. Create a monthly action plan
You are on a roll now! You have a wish list and you have SMART goals, let’s break them down and create yourself a monthly action plan.
Turn to the ‘Year at a Glance’ page. This page is your timeframe, - pencil in what and by when you would like/need certain things to happen in order to reach your master goal(s).
Using the example above, - January; review costs and implement changes, February; research and find new products etc.
*Tip: I personally like to use a pencil on this page, so I can move tasks around if required.
And voila! You have just completed your SMART goal setting exercise!
Moving forward, move your monthly goals (from the 'Year at a Glance' page) to the relevant 'Monthly Master Plan' pages. Then it is time to do the actual work.
There are many different techniques when it comes to goal setting and you should do what works for you, but I hope the above has given you some new ideas.
These are tried and tested and I personally have been using the brainstorming technique for years.
In Part Three of this series, we will be looking at different ways/how best to use daily and weekly planning pages in your CEO of My Own Life® planner.