How to write S.M.A.R.T Goals
With 2020 officially underway, all of us are bound to create some goals and dream big for the New Year. We’ve included an excerpt from Raphael Collazo’s book The Millennial Playbook: Proven Success Strategies for the Millennial Generation unpacking the process of writing SMART Goals. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!
S.M.A.R.T goals “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” – Harvey Mackay
Setting goals is an important part of achieving success in anything you do. Whether your goals are work related, personal or spiritual, structuring your goals effectively can drastically increase your probability of achieving them. As a frame of reference, I’ve provided my 2017 goals to show you how to structure your goals using the S.M.A.R.T goal- setting technique:
Raphael’s 2017 goals:
1) I will run the Punta Cana Marathon on April 2, 2017. To accomplish this goal, I will run at least five miles three times per week. One month before the race, I will increase my running length to 10 miles at least twice per week and between five to seven miles two times per week. I will run a half marathon March 12, 2017, in Puerto Rico to prepare for my full marathon.
2) I will perform at least one paid speaking engagement by August 15, 2017. I will accomplish this by attending every Toastmasters meeting to refine my craft and send at least two emails per week to organizations looking for speakers.
3) I will be consistently making an extra $1,000 per month on the side by September 15, 2017. I will do this by sending out at least five job requests per week on Thumbtack, Fiverr, and/or Upwork. I will also develop paid coursework that I’ll offer my clients.
4) I will build an email list of at least 5,000 people by December 15, 2017. I will do this by committing at least $25 per week to use Google AdWords to drive traffic to my landing page. I will experiment with A/B testing so I can increase my conversion rate to over 50%. 5) I will write my first book and have the rough draft completed by May 15, 2017. I will accomplish this by writing at least 500 words per weekday for five months (50,000 words). Once I have my rough draft complete, I will revise the draft and have a final draft ready to publish by July 15, 2017.
6) I will speak at least six times this year and have at least two of those speeches be completely in Spanish. I will accomplish this by attending every Toastmasters event and volunteering for every speaking opportunity. I will also email SHPE, Engineers 4 Business, Entrepreneurs@ASU, and other organizations I’ve been a part of to see if they need guest speakers. This will all be accomplished by November 15, 2017.
S stands for Specific
When defining your goal, it’s important to make it as specific as possible. What do you want to accomplish? Who’s involved? Where is it located? By asking yourself these
questions, you’ll start to craft a tangible goal that you can begin striving towards. In my marathon example, I describe the fact that I will run the “Punta Cana Marathon on April 2, 2017.” This level of specificity allows me to envision running that specific marathon and puts me on a path to achieve that goal.
M stands for Measurable
Metrics are the life blood of any goal you want to accomplish. If you don’t have any kind of metrics tied to your goal, how do you know if you’re on track to achieve it? By defining at least one metric, you’ll be better able to determine if you’re on track to achieving your desired outcome.
In my example of writing a book, I specified that I would write “500 words per weekday for five months.” This gave me the opportunity to measure if I was in fact on track to hit those numbers. If by February 15th I’d only been able to write 5,000 words, I could have done the math to find out how many words I’d have to write daily to catch up to my baseline. This extremely powerful tool should not be ignored, and you should take some time to define some good metrics to adhere to.
A stands for Attainable
A great question to ask yourself is, “Will I be able to achieve these goals in the timeframe I’ve set for myself?” I’ve met many enthusiastic/ambitious people who have huge dreams for themselves but struggle accomplishing their goals because their goals are not attainable in the timeframe they’ve allotted for themselves. For example, you may be an aspiring restaurateur who writes a goal of opening 15 restaurants by the end of the year. Although I commend you on your ability to think big, this goal is probably not achievable in the timeframe you’ve specified. A more attainable goal would be to open up your first location and achieve $X desired revenue for the year. Not only is this goal achievable, it also has a metric tied to it that will help you determine if you’re on track to achieving your goal. The lesson here is to not be afraid to stretch your abilities and dream big but also have realistic expectations given a particular timeframe.
R stands for Relevant
This section can be confusing for some people. When a goal is relevant, that means it applies to your bigger purpose in life. Do you want to be a high-level manager in an organization? Are you trying to be the best significant other or friend you can be? Do you want to help others with your message? Make sure your goals line up with what you want to accomplish in life. In my example of the “performing at least one paid speaking engagement” goal, I hope to one day speak to millions of people around the world, spreading my message of living an efficient life. Being hired for a paid speaking event will steer me towards realizing that dream.
T stands for Time-Bound
Like all great goals out there, it’s important to have a deadline for achieving them. Without a set deadline, people naturally lose motivation and procrastinate on performing the actions necessary to achieve their goals. Every single one of my goals has a set date of completion. This makes it easier for me to use my metrics to see if I’m on track to achieving my goals by their deadline. Another helpful tip when setting timelines for your goals is to stagger their due dates. As you accomplish each one of your goals, you’ll gain more confidence and build momentum that will propel you towards achieving the next one.
However, don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet your goal by the deadline. It’s important to sit down and evaluate where you are and what needs to be done to get you back on track. When you come up with a solution, you’ll then set a new target date and begin working towards it like before. Congratulations on making it this far! The mere fact that you’ve thought about your goals puts you in the top 20% of the population! Now that you know how to structure S.M.A.R.T. goals, spend some time writing out a few of your own. By writing out your goals, you’ll join the top 3% of the population who write out their goals. Believe me when I say that the time spent outlining your goals will be time well spent.
Sharing your goals and progress with others
Now that you’ve written out your S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’ll want to share them with others via mediums such as social media, your own personal blog, stickk.com, etc. By sharing your goals with the world, you introduce a level of accountability that will improve your likelihood of success. We’re more inclined to stick to our resolutions when we know others are watching. In fact, one study shows just how powerful sharing your goals and sending regular progress updates can be. When participants merely took mental note of their goals and thought about how to reach them, they succeeded in doing so less than 50% of the time. However, when participants wrote down their goals, shared them with others, and sent regular progress updates to accountability partners, they were able to achieve their set list of goals around 75% of the time.36
As the study indicates, sharing your goals with others can substantially increase your likelihood of achieving your goals. I suggest that as you reach particular milestones, send out updates to friends, family members, and/or your coach. You can do this by sending a text, calling, and/or sharing an update via social media. Not only will this practice increase your likelihood of success, acknowledging your progress will motivate you to keep moving forward. When I finalized my 2018 goals, I printed them out and hung up them up on my bedroom wall. I also shared my goals with my coach, created a post on my blog The Strong Professional, and posted various status updates on social media. As I hit milestones throughout the year, I celebrated my progress with my coach and on my blog. Try this technique out for yourself and see how much more you’ll be able to accomplish this year.