The most successful people in the world set goals and they are skilled at doing it. Setting goals is more than just writing down what you want to accomplish. Did you know the way you word your goals can directly influence how and if you will accomplish them? I know it sounds silly, but it’s true. Dr. Humbert confirmed that “Top achievers know that to reach their goals, the brain must know exactly, precisely, what they are trying to accomplish” (topachievement.com). I have found this statement to be true as I have tested it out several times when setting my own goals.
Before working on the wording and format of your goals, let’s review a few things to keep in mind when setting goals for yourself. Below are some suggestions taken directly from my education and experience on this topic that you need to consider when setting goals.
Goals need to be:
- Your goals-They cannot be someone else’s goals or hopes for your life, but must be your own.
- Meaningful-Will accomplishing this goal improve your life in some way?
- Diverse-Set goals in different areas of your life for improving your whole self, such as goals in the areas of; wellness, education, relationships, and faith.
- Limited in numbers-It’s awesome to have many goals, but you need to limit them to five or less so you aren’t overwhelmed and can really focus on the things you want to accomplish.
- Broken down into steps-Reaching a goal takes time and many have several action steps that need to be accomplished before moving on to the next level in achieving that goal. For more help with this, see the stair step goal sheet printable provided below.
- Written with various deadlines-Your five or less goals need to have different deadlines. Make sure that your goals are made up of short-term and long-term achievements. Focusing on too many deadlines at once sets you up for failure, so set yourself up for success by setting end dates that vary. If your goals are parallel to each other, deadlines could very well be the same. For example, if your goal is to lose weight and run a half marathon, these two goals are going to run parallel and help each other. By training for a half marathon, you will naturally be losing weight. Therefore, the deadline for these two goals could very well be set with the same end date since they are working together to achieve two things at once.
Now, let’s delve further into the science behind writing goals more efficiently. In 1981, George T. Doran created the concept of setting SMART goals to help corporate managers and executives to creative meaningful objectives and goals for company and employee success. His concept, even though designed for the corporate world, took off in the education sector as well. He created and defined the acronym SMART to resemble the steps needed to create goals that can be achieved.
The acronym SMART means:
S is for Specific-Be very detailed as to what needs to be accomplished. If your goal is to lose weight, you need to specify how much weight you want to lose. Humbert stated that you should, “Never word a goal with vague terms like “some” or “a little bit”, or “more”. Be specific!”
M is for Measurable-How will you measure success? If you want to lose weight, then success may be measured on the scales. If you want to maintain a certain GPA in college, that will be measured through your grades and on your transcript at the end of each semester.
A is for Assignable-Who is responsible for this goal?
R is for Realistic-Is this goal achievable with the people and resources you have available?
T is for Time-related-When do you want to accomplish this goal? Dates will hold you more accountable to the goal being set and give you some sort of deadline.
I have a background in special as well as adult education. SMART goals are extremely similar to how special education teachers analyze and write goals for Individualized Education Plans. This is also a concept that I and many of my colleagues in adult education would implement into our teachings with our adult students several times throughout the year. Below is the education-adapted version of SMART goal writing.
Below are examples of SMART goal writing:
(Who) will (action)(specifics to the goals) by (what will you do to accomplish the goal) by (deadline/specific date).
I will lose7 pounds by exercising for 30 minutes or more 5 times a week by May 1st, 2019.
Setting specific goals and writing them down is an important life skill that everyone needs to learn. According to Dr. Humbert, “The act of writing your goals down vastly increases your chance of success.” To better assist you with this task, I have provided three printable sheets below to help you with your goal setting this year.
First, is your Goals Sheet for 2018 to record your top 5 goals.
Next, is a SMART Goal Writing Practice Sheet complete with the correct wording and format, according to the SMART goal writing process.
Last, I have provided a Goal Setting Stair Step Sheet. Take 2 of your most important goals, written in the SMART goal format, and write them inside each star. On each stair in the staircase, you will write the steps necessary to achieve that goal.
Good luck with your goal setting this year! With all the information and tools listed above, you should be set up for success. I wish you all the best for 2018!
© Wendi and Strength 4 Spouses, 2018.
Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review (AMA FORUM) 70 (11): 35–36.
Humbert, Phillip E. (n.d.). The Top 10 Steps to Set and Achieve Your Goals – Every Time! Retrieved from http://topachievement.com/philhumbert.html
About Wendi: Hello and thank you for stopping by. I have spent the last nine years of my career as an adult educator. My education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Arts in Instructional Media. I am an Army wife, blogger, workshop presenter, and advisor to military spouses seeking career and education assistance. My true passions in life are teaching, gardening, group fitness, snuggling with my Beagle, and most importantly helping others by sharing my experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on my blog Strength 4 Spouses.