In my last entry, we talked about dreaming big, then being smart when planning our goals out incrementally. But the question for many remains for many: how do I effectively set those goals?
Most of us have had the experience of setting a goal, only later to experience a growing anxiety around our ability to reach it. It’s an agonizing, mind and soul wrenching feeling. The pressure starts to build, and it’s usually the reason we throw in the towel halfway there. The uncertainty of it all becomes unbearable.
This happens because our goals are vague, not clearly defined, and often nearly impossible to keep track of.
Today we are going to learn a simple to implement tool from the behavioral sciences that will help us set better goals. It’s called S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.
Here’s an example to explain why you need to set smarter goals.
Imagine Sarah wants to become an author. So she sets a goal to write a book. She is super excited to put her ideas out into the world – maybe even make some money along the way! So she puts the book on her vision board and is determined and excited to become an author. She feels ready!
But here’s the problem with this goal. When does Sarah wanting to finish this? How long and thorough does she want this project to be? So many unanswered questions. Without clarity, you are likely to soon start to feel that doubt and uncertainty creep back in, and your progress will be inconsistent.
SMART goal setting will help us get clarity around this. Here’s what it stands for:
Specific: Be specific about what, exactly, you want to do.
Measureable: Make it easy to track, so you know how you are doing as you go.
Attainable: Make it realistic in the timeframe you set given all known barriers and obstacles.
Relevant: Make your goal relevant to your greater values and aligned with – or at the very least, not a hindrance to – other concurrent projects.
Time-Bound: Set a due-date to finish it by!
So back to the goal of writing a book. Here’s how that might become a smarter goal for Sarah:
Specific: Complete a 50 page self-published ebook on how to market your etsy store.
Measureable: Complete 10 pages per week.
Attainable: I am working part time and have at least 20-30 minutes each day to work on this.
Relevant: I have a successful etsy store, and want to share what I learned!
Time-Bound: 5 weeks from today I’ll have a completed book!
By using SMART goal setting, Sarah went from having a vague plan to become an author, to having a goal that feels clear and attainable and can be tracked.
Now, if she checks in after the first week and only completes 5 pages, she’ll know to adjust her schedule the following week to write a bit more. So much better than feel overwhelmed four weeks into the project and only having half a paragraph written!
So if you have a goal in your life or work that is causing you anxiety, sit down with the goal and ask yourself, “Is it SMART?” Just a few minutes of reflection can get you back on track, so you can conquer those goals with confidence.
What SMART goal will you set this week to help you move the needle in your creative projects?