Smart Action Plan: How To Set SMART Goals

SMARTgoalstemplateHow badly do you want to achieve your goals?  Whether or not your goal is to drop 10 pounds for the summer, or to open your own small business, a smart action plan will equip you with highly effective tools that you need to achieve your goals in a realistic manner.

A SMART action plan incorporates 5 characteristics of a goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.  To help you set up a smart action plan, we are going to go through the 5 steps you need to focus on that will help you achieve your goals in a fast and optimal manner.

Different Types of Goals

With a SMART action plan, you can implement any of the various different types of goals that you want to in order to help you accomplish the goal of your action plan.

  • Long-term goals:  Long term goals have an outlook of 5 or more years.  Long term goals obviously take longer than other goals to achieve.  However, because of the time it takes to accomplish them, the feeling of reward and accomplishment is generally very strong once long-term goals are achieved.  An example of a long-term goal can be completing a degree or buying a home.
  • Intermediate-term goals:  Intermediate-term goals can generally be accomplished within 1 to 5 years.  This is still a rather long amount of time, but not as long as a long-term plan.  An example of an intermediate-term goal is a certification or purchasing a car.
  • Short-term goals:  Short-term goals can be achieved in less than a year depending on how fast and effectively you work on it.  A SMART action plan will help you easily achieve a short-term goal to keep you focused and help you reach the finish line quickly.

How to Set SMART Goals

Step 1: Make it Specific

  • The more specific you are with your goal, the easier it will be to achieve rather than trying to focus on a general goal.  Make your goal focused and defined to ensure a greater chance of accomplishment.
  • To help you be specific with your goals, answer the questions of: who, what, when, where, which, and why.  These answers are going to help you formulate the steps you need to achieve in your SMART plan to reach your goals.  Ask specific questions, such as: “What is it that I want to accomplish?”  “Who is involved?”  “Why am I setting this goal for myself?” and “Are there any other requirements or restraints that are going to keep me from reaching my goal?”

Step 2:  Make it Measurable

To ensure that your goal is measurable, you will need to have certain criteria that will help you measure your goal and the progress of your goal.

  • Set a timeline for your goal of when you want it to be accomplished, and certain mid-goal criteria to prevent you from falling behind on your goal.
  • Having a daily reminder to help you stay on track is a good way to measure the progress of your goal.  You can keep your reminder in a journal, on a whiteboard, or by using your smart phone to track your SMART goal’s development.

Step 3:  Make it Attainable

  • Make sure that your SMART action plan incorporates attainable goals.  Everyone has a certain schedule, workload, and information that they can use to help them attain their goal.  With the information that you have, can you obtain the goal of your action plan as your desire?  If you are coming across too many roadblocks that make your goal unattainable, try setting a different goal or re-constructing your goal to make it more achievable for you at this time.
  • To gauge if your goal is attainable in the preset, ask yourself questions such as: “Can I take on the commitments to reach this goal?” “Am I willing to tweak certain areas of my life to achieve the goal?” and “Is there a more achievable goal that I would rather work towards?”

Step 4:  Make Your Goal Relevant

If your goal is based on someone else’s wishes or desires, then it is not going to be one that is going to benefit you realistically in the present.

  • Make your goal relevant to the reality that you wish to currently achieve in your life.
  • Make sure that your goal is realistic.  For instance, if you are not a swimmer and you hate water, then your goal should not be to: “Swim 500 meters in the next two weeks.”  Set a goal that you have an actual chance of achieving.

smart action plan

Step 5:  Make it Time-Based

  • A smart goal should have a deadline.  A goal is not a goal if it is not time-bound.  A goal should have a set deadline.  This will help the goal seem more serious and it will motivate you to work harder, faster, and stronger to accomplish it.  If you goal seems flighty and there is no timeline attached to it, then you run the risk of getting sidetracked and putting your goal on the back burner for later.
  • When it comes to your time-based goal, you should develop a sense of urgency to help you achieve it better.  Of course you do not want to allow your goal to stress you out or overwhelm you.  However, you should carry a sense of motivation and motion to achieve your goal.
  • To help give your SMART action plan goal a time frame and schedule, you can ask yourself these questions:  “What can I do right now to help me reach my goal?”  “Where should I be with my goal in 3 weeks?”  “What are some things I can do next month to help me reach my goal?”

Importance of SMART Goal Setting

Smart goal setting for a SMART action plan is just as important as carrying out the steps you need to in order to achieve your goals.  Here is why:

  • You will attain a clear picture of what you want to achieve in life and where you want to go.  A clearer picture of your future will help give you the motivation you need to make your dreams a reality.
  • A smart goal will help you get into the habit of deciding if what you are willing to work for is something that you really want.  You will learn not to waste your time on things that are not important to you in the long run.
  • You will develop a set or framework of questions regarding your goals to help you choose your path more wisely.
  • Your focus and concentration concerning certain goals and your SMART action plan will be geared towards things that are most important to you.
  • Goals that are clear, specific, and streamlined will help your SMART action plan be achieved more easily.
  • By setting up a SMART action plan with specific goals, your subconscious will become engaged in helping you achieve your goals.
  • A SMART action plan will help you get more out of life; namely the things that you want.
  • SMART goals will encourage you to do things that you have never done before.
  • SMART goals can help you develop new skills that will contribute towards your action plan.
  • You will constantly be seeking out new information and researching in order to help you achieve your goals.  This just means that you will learn a lot.
  • You knowledge of yourself as a human being and a person will grow and develop.

SMART Thinking

A SMART action plan will help you stay motivated throughout the process of reaching your goal.  To help you attack your goal, enroll in this course for Goal Setting 101 to set and reach your goals.