Setting life goals in our personal lives is something that a lot of us struggle with. Whether we want to lose weight, or work on our pension plan, there are always many reasons to put our goals on the long finger.
However, most of us are much better at reaching the goals we are set, or set ourselves, at work. In fact, we can learn a lot from management techniques in terms of how to organise our personal lives so that we have the break-throughs that we want.
The SMART approach to setting and meeting goals comes from a management technique that originated in the 1980s. SMART is an acronym. Briefly, to make sure that we understand our goals and know how to reach them, we should ensure that they are:
– Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
– Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
– Achievable (agreed, attainable).
– Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
– Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Our goals should be specific, so we know exactly what we are working towards. Don’t think: “I want to lose weight,” but “I would like to be ten pounds lighter.” Ask yourself why you want to lose weight, why the goal matters, what you will need to do to achieve it, and if there’s anything special you need to do or procure in order to reach it.
Our goals should be measurable, so that we can track our progress. If your goal is to save more of your income, don’t be vague about it—set up a special savings account and a direct debit from your current account into it. Even if you only put in a few pounds a week, you’ll be able to see the difference, and count it. Figure out how much you want to save, if you can afford it, and how quickly you can see your savings account grow.
Our goals should be achievable, so that we know that if we work at them, we will see results. If your goal is to get fit, you could set your sights on the local mini-marathon before working your way up the London Marathon. Nobody wins a marathon their first year training, and most people never win one at all—but with persistence, anyone can get fitter and enjoy the process and results of exercising.
Our goals should be relevant to us and our lives. There’s no point in making someone else’s expectations of us into our goals. Whatever your goal is, to you it should be worthwhile, timely, in sync with the demands and needs of other aspects of your life, relevant to your life, and consistent with where you want to be.
Our goals should be time-bound—in other words, there should be either an end in sight, or a series of milestones that we can expect to reach. If you want to see your career progress, for example, you should have positive, realistic expectations of what you can expect to achieve by specific periods in your life.
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