February 9, 2021

How To Write Actionable Goals For No-Kidding Life Success


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I’m an executive coach and accomplished business consultant who brings experience as a two-time start-up Chief Operating Officer, small business and entrepreneurial expert, and coach to my work. Learn more about me here!

Meet Brandi Keiser

I don’t know about you, but each year I take some time to think about my life goals and jot them down. Generally, that turns into more of a wish-list without any action built into it. I recently took the exercise more seriously as I was at a crossroads in my career, newly married, and four years away from empty-nesting (well, maybe not completely empty as they come and go through college.) This time, I employed a tool that I had learned from a colleague at work and that is widely known in professional settings: the SMART formula.

Goal setting is a critical component of the personal or professional growth journey. The SMART formula is an effective formula for ensuring goal-setting success as it increases the likelihood of achieving them. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Below is how you set SMART goals. OH, and one note from my own experience…
As you get started with this process, you may find it to be more comfortable if it is an iterative process where you revisit each goal and its formulation over the course of a few days. The thoughtful investment is worth it! Ok, let’s go.

The SMART Formula

Specific: This means that your goal should be numbers-based, or have a specific goal in mind. A smart goal may be “Run one mile in less than 12 minutes,” or “Go from 170 pounds to 155 pounds.” Both are specific goals without any vague phrasing left open to interpretation. 
The more specific your goals are, the clearer it will be when you finally achieve them.
For bigger goals, break them into smaller short-term and medium-term goals, with each smaller goal phrased just as specifically in order for them to be attainable and achievable.

Measurable: To know whether or not you achieved a goal, you must be able to measure your progress (another reason why SMART goals are numbers-based). You should be able to track and measure your goals as they have a clear endpoint of achievement.

Measuring your progress is really important in goal setting and goal achievement. It helps you determine whether or not you’re moving in the right direction since you can clearly track and measure both positive and negative progress along the way. This is why apps are so popular for those on fitness and weight-loss journeys! Speaking from experience, they work.

Attainable: Your goals should be things that you are physically and mentally capable of achieving. They should not be farfetched (i.e., “lose 100 pounds in 90 days”), because if there’s no way to achieve the goal, why set it? We don’t want to set ourselves up for failure. On the flip side, dreaming is encouraged, so stretch goals should not be immediately ruled out assuming they are even remotely attainable.

Realistic: To get even more specific, SMART goals are not only attainable, but they are realistically attainable. They are a combination of a specific achievement that you can reach and a time frame that realistically aligns with that achievement.

For example, a SMART goal would be “Lose 10 pounds in 90 days,” for a healthy weight loss of 3 to 4 pounds per month, rather than “Lose 10 pounds this week.”
While the latter points to our need for immediate gratification and desire for success, the more realistic goal ensures building healthier habits for sustained success.

Timely: Smart goals have timeframes, and realistic ones at that. When you put a realistic time frame on your goal, it gives you something to work for. To simply “Lose 10 pounds,” without a time frame lacks motivation. “Lose 10 pounds by my birthday” has a realistic time frame that gives you something to work for and a date for completion. (That’s a good one, by the way…been on my list many times.)

Are you ready?

Pairing SMART goals with a growth-oriented mindset is the best way to guarantee success at setting and achieving what you want out of your life. You deserve that, so invest some time in setting your goals and be inspired by the journey that you have laid out for yourself. It’s worth it.

All my best and more,

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