Friday, June 22, 2007

S.M.A.R.T. Goals (improved)

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Timed.

I'm working on loosing some weight and I found several nice articles on S.M.A.R.T. Goals, but after thinking about them and working on them for a few days I think I improved on the S.M.A.R.T. acronym by replacing Attainable with Ambitious. Attainability overlaps heavily with Realistic. In order to have a significant impact, its crucial that our goals are Ambitious. We can't water our goals down to the point where success is always guaranteed. We will achieve more by taking a bit of risk and stretching to achieve our full potential.

Specific - A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal; answer these questions:
What: What specifically do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons or benefits of accomplishing the goal to aid motivation.
How: What are my strategies and tactics to accomplish the goal
Who: Are others involved? Do I need help? Who can I get to help?
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Where: Identify a location if it’s important

Measurable - Establish concrete criteria or milestones for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? How many projects have you seen where the status reports said everything was on time, with no problems, until the deadline hit?

Ambitious – If your goal is set so easily as to be a sure thing, will you achieve all that is possible? While we want to set realistic goals that can be achieved, there is not much reward if success is guaranteed. With risk comes reward. The art is in balancing risk and reward. Identify what is achievable, then set a stretch goal that may require just a bit more effort, creativity or persistence. If you don’t reach the stretch goal, the outcome is not necessarily a failure. If you set your sights so low that there is no stretch, will you be satisfied with the outcome? Ambitious goals may be easier to reach because easy goals don’t provide much motivation.

Realistic - To be realistic, you must be both willing and able to work toward it. Do you have the right skills, preparation, tools and resources to reach the goal? If not how can you get them? If you understand the steps and resources needed to accomplish the goal and have the necessary skills it is much more likely to be achieved. If you’ve accomplished something similar in the past then your goal is probably realistic.

Timed - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to the goal there's no sense of urgency and your ability to measure progress is greatly diminished.

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