Posted in goal setting, lifestyle, Planning and journaling

Monday Matters: A guide to SMART goals + an example of how I’m using the framework

Last week, my blog post focused on vision boards and how you can create one in your bullet journal. As part of this, I mentioned that as well as using pictures and words to establish what you want, you also need to identify steps you can take towards achieving your goals/dreams. Today, I’m going to deep dive into SMART goals and give an example of how I’m using the framework to help me achieve success towards a specific goal of mine which features on my current vision board.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a mnemonic acronym that can help you with both goal setting and goal getting. It stands for:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable / Achievable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

Sounds great in theory but how can I set SMART goals?

To enable the setting of SMART goals, you need to create a detailed break down of each of your personal goals using the SMART framework. Your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

Specific

It’s important to be clear about what exactly it is that you want to achieve. To make your goals really specific, it can help to ask yourself a few questions to identify the detail:

  • What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this really important to me right now?
  • Who will I need to help me achieve the goal and what will their role be?
  • Where will I work on my plan to achieve my goal?
  • Which resources will I need to help me?
  • Does my goal have financial implications?
  • What will my life look like when I have achieved my goal?
  • How will achieving my goal make me feel?

Measurable

Your goals should all be measurable so that you are able to see progress and know when you have achieved success. This can increase motivation as you start to see results from your efforts. Key questions to ask yourself could be:

  • How will I know when I have achieved my goal?
  • What will success look like?
  • What’s the best way of measuring my success?

Achievable

A vision board can sometimes contain ideals and big hopes and dreams, to make these visions into goals, you need to set more achievable targets to work towards.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely do you think it is that you’ll achieve your goal (1 being completely unlikely and 10 being absolutely certain)?
  • Is it completely within my power to achieve the goal?
  • Is the goal realistic?
  • Are there any obstacles which may present themselves?
  • Will I be able to achieve my goal in a given timeframe?
  • Do I have the resources or financial means to work on and achieve my goal?

Relevant

Your goals should be relevant to what matters the most to you right now. They should also align with your life values and current beliefs.

  • Is this a worthwhile goal and does it meet my current needs or desires?
  • Is this goal a priority for me right now?
  • What will achieving the goal especially mean to me?
  • How does this goal fit in with my values?

Time bound

It’s best to have a specific time frame in mind for meeting your goal. Setting a deadline or a date to assess if you have made significant progress can help keep you on track to success. You should try to decide on a realistic amount of time that is neither too long or too short. If the deadline is too far in the future, you will likely lose momentum or feel no sense of urgency. If the time frame is too short, you may become overwhelmed or stressed. A good idea might be to identify mini steps and assign an achieve by date for each.

An example of how I’m using SMART goals to achieve success

In last week’s Monday Matters blog post, I shared my current vision board. In order to increase my chance of successfully meeting my goals (or vision), I’ve been applying the SMART system to really break things down. To help you see how this works, I thought I’d take just one of my goals and look at it in depth using SMART.

On my vision board, I have a picture of a hamster and the word pampered. My goal is to treat our new pet in a way that gives her everything she wants and needs. We’ve been keeping hamsters for years and each time we have a new addition to the family, I try even harder to make sure she has a good life. Obviously I can’t ask Millie if she feels like she is a pampered pet but I can put things in place to ensure she is completely spoilt and receives the best treatment I can offer. Here’s my real life example of how I’ve broken my goal down :

Specific: I want Millie to be a happy and well pampered hamster so that I can be sure I’m giving her the best life I can. It’s important to me that my pet is treated well as part of our family. Both my husband and I will play a big part in working towards and achieving my goal. We’ll use our knowledge of keeping Syrian hamsters to help us as well as learning from guidance found online from reputable sources. Meeting my goal will have financial implications but we’re happy to spend a reasonable amount of money on both her cage and accessories within. When I have achieved the goal Millie will appear happy and content with her home and should show signs that she feels safe when we get her out of her cage each evening. She should look healthy and well cared for and my husband and I will be satisfied that we are good hamster parents!

Measurable: We will measure our progress using a checklist of things which need to be in place to ensure Millie is happy and healthy.

  • Extra large cage with floor space beyond the recommended size for Syrian hamsters.
  • Cosy house which is large enough for Millie to sleep in and also has room for snacks.
  • Large wheel which adult Millie can run in without concave back.
  • Water bottle to be refilled daily and scrubbed weekly.
  • A good quality diet consisting of dry food and small quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Treats provided in line with feeding guidelines.
  • Plenty of bedding to be provided for nesting and digging.
  • Wooden chews provided for gnawing.
  • Sand provided for bathing.
  • Digging tower provided for out of cage play.
  • Cage spot cleaned regularly with full clean once a month.
  • Eating and drinking to be monitored.
  • Weight checked weekly.
  • Dedicated time with Millie outside of the cage every evening (minimum 10 minutes)
  • Basic health check performed each time Millie is handled.
  • No signs of distress or boredom displayed e.g. biting cage bars all of the time, excessive grooming, aggression, repetitive behaviours etc.

The goal will be considered achieved when all of these are in place and standards are maintained over the time period stated below.

Achievable As we are experienced hamster owners (Millie is my ninth hammy) we have very good understanding of what Syrian hamsters need for a happy and healthy life. Therefore, the goal should be achieved in a relatively short time. We’ve already ticked off some of the criteria as we’ve purchased an extra large cage, a wooden house and digging tower. We also have plenty of dry food, treats, warm bedding and a sand bath as well as a good sized wheel. Fresh water is provided although we need to get better at changing it each day.

Relevant Obviously the goal is relevant as we have a pet hamster and we wish for her to be well cared for and pampered. This is in line with my beliefs about how animals should be treated.

Time bound At least a couple of weeks for Millie to get used to us will be required as she is currently a little bit nervous and wary of us but progress is being made each day. I will assess and evaluate the situation at the end of this month and I expect that everything will be in place by 15th April as we will have had Millie for one month by then.

Millie at 9 weeks old and a little camera shy!

The need to be even SMARTER…

Although the SMART approach does not offer any guarantees of success, it does provide a useful system to help with setting and working on small goals with a view to you achieving your bigger hopes and dreams. Some authors have expanded on SMART to include two extra letters, namely E and R to make SMARTER, where E stands for Evaluated and R stands for Reviewed. In this longer acronym, it is suggested that further success will be achieved if the individual takes time to evaluate progress and reviews and reflects on how things are going in order to identify any issues and make adjustments where necessary. This certainly makes sense to me and so I’ve chosen a specific time and date to do some reflective journaling on my progress towards all of the goals displayed on my vision board. I’ve written it into my Bullet Journal Future Log so I don’t forget and I’ve allotted two hours for the process, which might seem a lot but I think it’s important to set aside a big chunk of time if the session is going to be useful.

Final thoughts

I’m feeling really motivated to work towards my goals and it helps that I know my what, why, where, who, when and how. I may meet with obstacles or setbacks along the way, but by evaluating my progress and making small changes, I’m in with a good chance of success.

Let me know in the comments if you’re a fan of setting SMART (or SMARTER) goals or if you think it’s something you might like to try in the future. I would love to hear about what you’re working on right now and if you are meeting with success.

Author:

A creative planning and journalling addict who lives in the North East of England, My current passions are my bullet journal, my Traveler's Notebook for memory keeping, my DSLR for taking nature photos, my new watercolour paints and my papercrafting supplies. I also own and run LJDesignsNE on Etsy where I sell pretty and functional goodies to fellow planner and journaling addicts.

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