Four Steps to Setting SMART Goals
I hope you enjoyed the last post on an introduction into one fundamental element to successful goal setting which is getting out of your comfort zone. I am a bit late in posting this blog post as life got in the way but I am so please to FINALLY share some practical tips that I've learned along the way and implemented when I'm setting goals. I'm sure you've heard a million times before about SMART goals but I wanted to break it down a bit further for you to see the steps that are actually involved in the process.
SMART is an acronym for:
Here are 4 steps that I think are necessary to helping you achieve your goals and bounce back a bit quicker than usual when they may not go according to plan.
1. PLAN PLAN PLAN
You can't begin working towards a goal you haven't planned for. It's like booking a holiday away and not organising your mode of transportation. Writing down your goal and beginning to brainstorm how you're planning to achieve it will make all of the difference. All you need is some dedicated time thinking through your goal and answering questions such as what it ACTUALLY IS, why you are working towards it, how long might this take you and what can you already bring to the table to help you achieve it. The following steps below will go towards formulating your plan but I wanted to highlight how important it is to not go all guns blazing without thinking of a road map.
2. Assemble your toolkit
As I mentioned in my last blog post, achieving a goal usually requires you to go out of your comfort zone, leading you to become a different version of you. With that being said, it's crucial to recognise whether or not you actually possess the relevant skills to achieve your goal. If you don't, you may need to get some help from others or you may be able to learn the skills along the way - these different steps can act as your check in points to measure how well you are doing. Seeking help from others may seem daunting, but honestly, if people have the time, they love nothing better than showing off what they know, so use that to your advantage. A key thing to remember when you realise that you need to learn relevant skills is that it doesn't always have to take place at a verified institution (within reason) and that you can mostly do it for free. i.e., if your goal is to become a videographer, there are tons of YouTube videos, free e-books, online webinars that you can watch/attend. However, if your goal is to become a qualified doctor, teacher, lawyer then you'll need to go down the academic route and the skills you have already will depend on what stage you are in obtaining said goal.
3. Create a measurable timeline
Your timeline will be the crux of your plan. It will allow you to start allocating dates and stages in which you can look back and measure how far you have come. Make sure to have specific targets that you would like to have achieved by a particular date (see below for an example). Without measuring your progress, you'll most likely procrastinate, lose sight of the goal, make excuses and not be able to see if you need to pivot.
EXAMPLE - I am in 2nd year of my university degree and want to become research scientist (true story!), so how do I go about this? Here's a look at my timeline with check in points.
As you can see, my main goal was to become a research scientist but that would have took 5+ years from when I decided this so I had to create check points/mini goals along the way to understand if my main goal was truly achievable. If I failed my exams, I would possibly have had to push back the goal or find something else I was interested in. Along the way I also changed my mind a lot but that was okay because I gave myself the flexibility in my plan to allow for that and move with the flow instead of forcing a goal that may not have panned out the way I wanted it to.
4. Reflect & re-strategise
This step will give you the flexibility required to figure things out as you go along, pivot if something isn't going according to plan and to find better opportunities that you wouldn't have imagined coming along. It is so important to reflect during your allocated timepoints (or earlier if needed) or you risk wasting a lot of time on something that simply won't work or isn't meant for you at that time.
A personal example was that in third year of university, I didn't get my dream lab-based internship experience but instead I secured an industrial corporate internship which completely shifted my goal to become a research scientist and gave me skills and contacts that I couldn't have got anywhere else. I changed my strategy after this and wanted to join an industrial company instead of pursuing a PhD … but of course that plan changed again. This was only possibly because I allowed myself to jump ship to what was working instead of pigeon-holing myself!
And that's pretty much the most valuable pieces of advice I can give to someone not knowing where to start seeing one of their goals come to life. It's not revolutionary at all but I think being in the social media age, we constantly see people achieving goals every minute of the day which makes it seem so much easier than the work it actually takes. Remember that you're on your own individual path and that even if something takes you longer than you or others expect, it doesn't make it any less valid! You can also CHANGE YOUR MIND whenever you want, don't feel pressured by your own ambitions, because this life is too short to be chasing something not meant for you.
Thanks for reading & I hope this was useful. My regular schedule will resume ASAP meaning that there'll be another blog coming this Sunday, yay! Make sure to like, share this post with others you think will find it useful and let me know how you like to achieve your goals. SUBSCRIBE to not miss a thing and catch me over on Instagram for more up to date content.
Until next time,