Last Monday I was almost burgled, or worse. I was woken up around 4am by a loud banging noise to find a man/evil person attempting to break into my bedroom window! I had left the window slightly ajar as it was a warm evening but luckily my window was actually on a latch and is near impossible to open fully, even I struggle to open it. This caused the evil person to bang loudly on the glass, I presume trying to break it which luckily woke me up and I was able to scare him away. Waking up to find someone trying to break into your bedroom is horrifying and I dread to think what would’ve happened if he’d been successful and actually got in.
He could’ve entered my room, he could’ve had a weapon, there could’ve been a gang of them… It could have been a lot worse. I’m in no way claiming to have had a near-death experience, but it certainly got my thinking about what I want from life, what I want for my future, what I want to achieve today, tomorrow, six months from now. This horrifying incident made me realise that I didn’t want to dawdle through life, I want to be proactive and have goals to work towards.
Setting goals can be a daunting task. Where do we start? What if we never achieve them? What if it takes us longer to achieve than we thought? All of these are valid concerns but don’t let these stop you from writing down your goals. I’ve set myself daily goals in the forms of to-do lists, I’ve shared monthly goals a few times on this blog and I’ve had an idea of life goals, such as wanting to get married and have babies, but I’ve never turned them into SMART goals before. Today I’m going to share with you exactly how to set SMART goals and also share some of my goals with you, even some personal ones!
What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym of what your goals should be in order to be effective. It’s what turns a vague resolution into a clear, precise and trackable objective. For example, if you’re anything like me then at some point you’ve set the goal of ‘I want to lose weight’, but how much weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? Is it even ‘weight’ you want to lose, which could be muscle mass, fat, water weight or do you just want to lose fat? When will you know you’ve achieved your goal? The SMART framework shows us how to expand and improve on our goals by ensuring they are:
Specific – As I said above, saying ‘I want to lose weight’ is not specific. Nor is ‘I want to own a business’ or ‘I want to drink more water’ or ‘I want to start a blog’. How much weight do you want to lose, what type of business do you want to own, how much water do you want to drink? You need to define your goals so that you know exactly what it is you want to achieve. Instead of saying ‘I want to lose weight’, get specific and say ‘I want to lose 14 pounds of fat’.
Tip: To help you get specific, answer the ‘W’ questions, such as who, what, where, when and why.
Measurable – Give your goals precise numbers and deadlines so that you can measure how well you’re doing to achieve your goal. Using the example of losing weight, if I said I wanted to lose 14lbs of fat in 3 months, but I’d gotten to month 2 and I’d only lost 3lbs then I can reassess if I need to adjust my goal, or increase my efforts in order to achieve my goal.
Attainable – Set goals that are achievable. Losing 14 pounds of fat overnight is not achievable, but losing 14 pounds of fat in three months could be. It’s important not to make your goals too easy, as you should challenge and push yourself, but you don’t want to set goals that are so out there and impossible that they demotivate you. Do you have the talent, the knowledge, the time, the skills, the motivation or the finances to achieve your goal, if not then can you get them? By all means, dream big, push yourself and reach for the stars, then work out what it is you need to be able to achieve your goal.
Relevant – Is this goal actually relevant to you? What will it mean to you to achieve it? Why do you want to achieve it? Going back to the losing weight example, what is the relevance of losing weight? Often people assume being slimmer will make them happier when that is often not the case. Is your health at risk, is your BMI too high, has your doctor advised you to lose weight, have you gained weight recently? Why exactly do you want to lose 14 pounds of fat? I’d quite like to learn how to play the piano, but this won’t help me in my career, or my relationship, and it won’t make me as happy as my other hobbies (like blogging!), so I’m not going to set it as a goal and focus my time and effort on it. Why exactly do you want to achieve your goal and how relevant is it to you?
Time-Based – Set a deadline. Give yourself a timeframe so that you know that after X days, weeks, months or years you can look back at your goal and assess whether or not you’ve achieved it. I love the quote that ‘Goals are dreams with deadlines’ and it’s so true. Until you give yourself a deadline, a goal really is just a dream.
So that’s a quick overview of setting SMART goals and making sure they are Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. You’ll know your goals are SMART goals when you can pass your goals to a friend and they won’t need to ask you any questions or get you to clarify anything about your goals. If you’d like a further breakdown on how to set SMART goals then you might find this article quite helpful. If you’re still with me, great! Let’s get into some of my SMART goals shall we and let’s see if you’d like to pinch any of them for yourselves.
My SMART goals
1. Lose 14 pounds of fat in 4 months by eating clean with one cheat meal a week and exercising at least three times a week, incorporating HIIT, cardio and strength training.
I want to shimmy around in my Christmas party dress 14 pounds of fat lighter, with a lot less grabble flabby bits, a lower body fat percentage and a leaner, healthier body.
2. Increase my blog pageviews by 60% from July to December 2015.
I hope to continue posting stuff that you find interesting and helpful and want to tell your friends about so that a lot more lovely people decide to click onto my blog and want to read what I have to say.
3. Save £X amount for a deposit on a house by March 2016.
I’m keeping the amount I’d like to save secret, but rest assured I have made my goal specific and measurable by setting an actual amount. I’d really, really, like to buy a house, so I’m making it a real goal rather than a dream.
4. Marry my boyfriend in 2017
Wow, this a real grown up goal huh? I’m not even sure at this point if 2017 is attainable given that he hasn’t put a ring on it yet *holds up hand like Beyonce*, I’d like to buy a house, and 2015 is disappearing faster than I can believe. But, we’ve been together 7 years, we’re both 25 and I love him and want to marry him, so I’m putting this in writing so that we both have a deadline to work towards.
5. Increase my income by 20% by December 2016
All this grown up talk of weddings and buying houses makes me shiver just thinking of how much it will all cost. In order to achieve my goals and not bankrupt myself I want to increase my income by 20% in the space of 18 months, whether that’s by selling my things on eBay, getting a payrise at work, taking on a second job or figuring out how to earn money blogging (it astonishes me that mega bloggers earn my annual salary in a month, every month! Mind = blown).
So those are some of my SMART life goals right now. I have far more goals on my bucket list, such as travel to Thailand, Australia and Ghana, have babies, go to Coachella and more. For now though, I’m focusing on these SMART goals and will be writing down a plan of action for each of them to ensure I achieve them in the given timeframes.