I’ve just started a new module in my Public health masters and I’m finding it really interesting. It’s called ‘Leadership, Management and creating change in Public health. It’s run by the business school so very different from what I’ve done previously but I’m learning so much and excited to continue.
A topic I knew about popped up this week and motivated me to share it with you on the blog. It’s SMART goals.
This framework can be used whenever you set yourself a target – this could be in you career, personal life, steps towards your dream, fitness or health – basically anything! If you’ve struggled in the past to achieve you goals or stick to working towards them, I think you might find this helpful.
Many of you might have come across SMART before. It’s an approach to goal setting that makes targets more achievable.
I’ll use the example of the goal of meditating each day to illustrate the principles I outline below.
Make you goal clear and outcome based. This will help keep you focussed and motivated.
When drafting your goal consider the ‘W questions’.
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Meditate for 20 minutes every day.
- Why is this goal important?
- Help me to manage stress, be more focused and clear-minded. Provide some ‘me-time’ every day.
- Who is involved?
- Me and any friends or families or roommates that might need to help support you in your goal.
- Where is it located
- At home, in nature – wherever you feel you’d meditate well. You can try a few different settings.
- Which resources or limits are involved?
- Time might be the biggest resource or limitation you have to prioritise using for this goal.
It’s important to have measurable goals to assess progress – this helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
In this element of the SMART approach you will consider the questions:
- How much?
- Ultimate aim of 20 minutes.
- How many?
- Each day.
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
- When I consistently practice meditation for 20 minutes each day and the habit of doing so has been formed.
To be achievable you need to set your goal to be realistic and ultimately attainable. This said, it can stretch you.
Possible questions to consider would be:
- Do I have the skills available or can I acquire them?
- How realistic is the goal given other constraints?
- This could be relating to family commitments, work or social engagements that will also vie for your time.
A goal being relevant means it matters to you, your personal development and aligns with your values/core beliefs.
You can ask yourself:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Will it improve my overall quality of life?
- Is this the right time?
- Are you about to take on other responsibilities or new hobbies and trying to establish this goal concurrently might be overwhelming?
- Does this match our other efforts and needs?
- Is this goal in keeping with other aims of mine e.g. self-care and stress management?
Having a deadline to work towards also provides a focus and motivation. This element of the SMART approach stops every-day tasks from getting priority over your goal.
- What can I do now?
- Am I a complete novice at meditating? Am I meditating every-so often but want it to become a more ingrained habit?
- What would I like to be able to do six weeks from now?
- Meditate 5 minutes every day or 10 minutes every other day.
- What do I want to be able to do six months from now?
- Meditate 20 minutes every day.
I hope this brief run through of the SMART approach to goal setting will help provide you with some structure for achieving your current aims or encourage you to set up new goals with more confidence in your ability to succeed.