SMART Goal Setting
Whether or not you realise it, your day is full of goals.
From setting your alarm clock to wake up at a specific time, to making plans of exactly what you’ll be eating for dinner, you are exercising your goal-setting muscle in so many little ways that you may not even be aware of it anymore.
Think about all the people you know in your life. Have you noticed that some of them seem to be more driven and motivated in everything that they do? Chances are, people like that have a clear list of goals that they wish to pursue and that’s why they don’t waste time in pursuing them.
Some people like to say that there’s no point in setting goals, because things will always change. “Go with the flow”, they say.
So why should you care?
Yes, there are many things that are beyond our control, but that does not mean that you should not set goals. Having a goal in place means you are focusing your energy and your time in a direction that you choose for yourself, instead of just floating around aimlessly. Having goals and pursuing them is a natural way to inspire you to work harder because they remind you of the reasons behind your hard work, instead of just doing things because you feel that you ‘should’ do them.
You know how some people like to say that you should ‘go with the flow’ instead of setting goals?
Well, let me give you a counter-argument, an alternative quote to think about:
“Only dead fish go with the flow”.
There are many tips, tricks, and processes to setting goals, but the ‘SMART’ way might be one of the most common, in my personal opinion. Test this process with your own goals to see if you have built them properly:
Your goal, whatever it may be, needs to be specific. You can’t have a vague goal like ‘I want to get a diploma and expect it to inspire you. Add more details to it, like ‘I want to get a Diploma in Motorsport Technology by 2019’, for example. Adding more concrete details to your goal makes it much more exciting, because you’ll constantly be aware of exactly what it is you’re working towards.
Your goals need to be measurable in some way, so you can constantly check if you are indeed on the right track, or if you need to make some sort of adjustments. Using the example of your studies, you might use your grades or your duration as part of your goals. For example, you might say: “I want to get a Diploma with an average mark of X within the next Y number of months”.
Whatever the metric you choose, there must always be a way for you to measure your progress.
It is true that your goals should always be big, because they need to challenge you in some way. However, they need to be actionable, meaning, they need to be goals that a person in your position can actually pursue.
For example, setting the goal of wanting to travel to space in a car that you built yourself; as cool as it may sound, it is not an actionable goal.
Stop and take a moment to ask yourself, “Is this goal relevant to me?”. Quite often, we set goals and pursue things that we think we should, goals that we think sound nice but are not actually things that we want.
It’s very difficult to stay motivated when we do things that are not relevant to us whatsoever. You might be able to work that way for a while but sooner or later, you will get tired of it.
Whatever goals you have now, try and find reasons why they are relevant to you as an individual. Remind yourself of those reasons, especially when things get tough. That’s how people get through the tough times.
Your goal must be time-bound, meaning there must be a due date. The reason behind this is simple: human beings are very prone to procrastination. If we say that we are going to do something “someday”, chances are we will never get it done. “Someday” is the most dangerous word in our vocabulary, so instead of using that, you should set a specific timeframe.
Timeframes, like your goals overall, can be adjusted. What’s important is to have them set instead of just leaving things open-ended.
As mentioned earlier, goal-setting is a skill. That means that it takes time before you get used to it, so start small. Make small goals that perhaps take days or weeks to complete. Get used to the process, and when you’re ready start setting bigger goals for yourself, goals that are months and years in the making!