How to Write SMART Goals

Today, we’re diving into the world of goal setting, specifically a method that can transform your aspirations into reality: SMART goals. We’ll review the origins of the framework,  two research studies that looked at the effectiveness of SMART GOALS and then we’ll explain exactly how to successfully write your SMART Goals.

The development of SMART goals is generally attributed to George Doran, a management consultant, in his 1981 paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” The paper outlined the specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound criteria for effective goal setting.

However, it’s important to note that the concept of goal setting with similar characteristics existed before Doran’s work. Peter Drucker, a management pioneer, emphasized the importance of clear and measurable objectives in his book “Management by Objectives” published in 1954. And other consultants and researchers throughout the 20th century championed similar principles for effective goal setting.

SO while Doran is credited with popularizing the SMART acronym and its specific criteria, the concept itself draws on earlier ideas and contributions within the field of management and goal setting.

Let’s see what the science says…

A research study titled “Goal Setting and Task Performance: Experimental Investigations of the Goal-Setting Hypothesis” published in the Academy of Management Journal conducted a meta-analysis of 90 different studies on goal setting, encompassing various tasks and contexts. They compared the performance of individuals with specific, challenging goals to those with vague or no goals.

The study found that individuals who set specific and challenging goals achieved on average 16% higher performance than those with vague or no goals. Additionally, when participants received feedback on their progress towards their goals, their performance improved even further by an average of 23%.

Another research study titled SMART Goal Setting for Effective Weight Management conducted a randomized controlled trial that compared SMART goals to vague goals for weight loss in overweight adults.

Participants with SMART goals lost significantly more weight (7.7 lbs) than those with vague goals (2.4 lbs) after 12 months.

SMART goals clearly work. Here’s How to write yours….

  • Bet Specific: Ditch the vague “get healthy” and aim for “run a 5K by June.”
  • Make them Measurable: Track your progress! How many pounds lifted, pages written, or new clients landed over a specific time period, say each month.
  • Be sure they are Attainable: Be realistic. Aiming to become a millionaire overnight is not be SMART.
  • Make sure they’re Relevant: Align your goals with your values and bigger picture. Does learning Italian support your career goals?
  • Make them Time-bound: Set deadlines! Measure things in days, weeks, months. “Someday” is a recipe for failure.

To summarize the SMART goal recipe, make it specific, and quantify it. Set a realistic timeframe and connect it to your overall purpose. For example, instead of “write a book,” aim for “write 2,000 words per week for 6 months to finish my manuscript.”

Keep in mind that  SMART goals are a framework, not a rigid rulebook. Adapt them to your needs and celebrate each milestone. Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go – that’s part of the process!

So, what are you waiting for? Grab your pen, unleash your inner goal-getter, and start creating your own SMART roadmap to success. Remember, conquering your goals starts with one small, specific step.

Your move.

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