August 25, 2010
“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” -Elbert Hubbard
Do you remember my homework assignment —set some goals and organize a plan. Well I’ve been thinking a lot about that these past few days, while chasing my daughter around the house, and I’ve come to the realization that it’s easy to “set goals”. People are always talking about their goals. But if you aren’t setting “S.M.A.R.T. goals“, if you aren’t breaking bigger goals into smaller steps, if you aren’t taking your goals seriously and checking in on a regular basis, well then, why set goals at all?
In the past, as a teacher on the first day of school, I would always set “S.M.A.R.T. goals” with my students each year after reading “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. A “S.M.A.R.T. goal” is this:
S = Specific – Don’t just decide vaguely what it is you’re going to do. Rather, be specific and include the who, what, when, and where.
M = Measurable – If you can’t measure a goal, how do you know when you’ve reached it? Vague words like “good” and “awesome” are examples of words I had to teach my students to stay away from. Rather, I encouraged them to use a measurable number. Instead of saying, “I’m going to be a good math student this year” a student should say, “I will have a math score of 92% or higher at the end of the quarter”. See the difference?
A = Attainable or Achievable – An important step to consider when trying to achieve your goals is all the smaller steps and benchmarks that your larger goal breaks down into. By breaking your goals down into smaller goals, you can slowly step towards the bigger goal, as well as track your progress along the way.
Check out this great resource, a “goal planner sheet” to help you track your progress along the way to achieving your goals.
R = Realistic – Personally I like to add “Plus a Little Risky” to this one. It’s important to to set yourself up for success, yet at the same time challenge yourself beyond what you think you can do. “Realistically” I can’t make $100,000 this year considering I’m the primary care taker for a child who only takes a 90 minute nap on a good day. Yet at the same time, if I don’t set goals that are a little risky, I might never be challenged to stretch myself. Be careful to find balance between the “realistic” and the “risky”.
T = Timed – And lastly, make sure you clarify when you will reach your goals, otherwise you might never reach them.
Today’s assignment, sit down and think about one thing you hope to accomplish in the future.
Do you think that it’s important to share your goals with others as a means of accountability. I do! And that’s why I’ll be sharing a few of my goals with you next week.