Goal Setting: Being S.M.A.R.T. Made Simple!
Updated: Oct 12
As we started this series, we considered why resolutions fail and how turning them into actionable goals helps us stay on track. Now let’s look at the process of goal setting itself. We are sure you remember the SMART mnemonic for goals, and we don’t blame you for resenting it just a little bit. However, the mnemonic sticks because it works.
Goal Setting: The How
Picking up from where we left off, let’s look at one area where many of us may feel like we are falling behind. Relationships. Take heart in knowing that at some point, we all do. The intent now is not to dwell on the ‘why’ but to work on the ‘how’. So that’s what we will do.
Some of your model statements may have looked like this: “I want to take out more time for my family.” “I want us all to have one meal together every day.” “We have been traveling a lot lately. I want to set time aside for us to bond every week.” “My spouse and I don’t agree on stuff these days. I want to work on our relationship.” “I am having trouble adjusting to the new boss. I want to break the ice.”
The reason we are deep-diving into relationships is that they are the trickiest to get right, not least because they often involve another person. Your statements in your chosen area of focus may be a variation of some of these examples. If you don’t already have a proactive sentence, such as ‘I want to break the ice,’ add that in now.
Goal Setting SMARTly
Now, back to our trusted friend, the SMART mnemonic. Continuing from the breaking the ice with the boss example,
My goal is Specific– I know the other person (boss), and I know what I want to do (break the ice).
My goal is Measurable– This can be tricky for such goals. However, observing, say, the number of days you go to work in peace could be a good measure.
My goal is Achievable– you have not given your boss a grave reason to hate you forever, and with time, you see the relationship improving.
My goal is Relevant (or Realistic) – breaking the ice with the boss helps set me up for more collaboration, peaceful workdays and improves my overall job satisfaction.
Indeed, these are generic solutions to generic problems, but the aim is to show you that every conflict can be resolved with action. It is also important to note that your resolution may have nothing to do with the conflict at all. Simple examples such as wanting to spend time with family can also be broken down into similar outcomes.
What this exercise does is help you see your goal, not as a huge mountain to scale but a set of small steps that you can climb consistently.
Creating Action Steps
The next step is to come up with action items. This step is intricately tied in with the ‘why’ of the problem.
Why are you having trouble adjusting to the new boss?
Perhaps you come from different schools of thought and have different ideas- a common problem in high-performance teams. Action item: Try and see your boss’s perspective and make an effort to understand where they are coming from. This way, your ideas can clash more productively!
Perhaps it is more personal- they think the previous leader unfairly rewarded you and want you to earn your bread. Action Item: Invite your boss to a semi-formal gathering and introduce them to your life.
Maybe, you did not get off on the right footing, and now your boss doesn’t believe in or understand your potential. Action Item: Schedule a one-on-one interaction with them and share your previous work and credentials.
Indeed, these are generic solutions to generic problems, but the aim is to show you that every conflict can be resolved with action. It is also important to note that your resolution may have nothing to do with conflict at all. Simple examples such as wanting to spend time with family can also be broken down into similar outcomes.
How are you going about prioritizing your goals for this year? What is the driving force for sticking to them?