The ‘SMART’ technique (see this excellent introduction) is a popular framework for effective goal setting. Generally, the acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound requisites for goals. Some people use different denotations and variations; others use the expanded ‘SMARTER’ form or focus only on the measurable and time-bound (‘MT’) characterization of goals.
Quite often, goals—even the SMART ones—fail to stimulate action beyond the initial burst of motivation. The simple reason for this slip is that goals tend to lack visibility for the “true ends.”
Make Your Goals Stick
A goal that lacks an underpinning of meaning and personal significance is likely to run out of steam. Therefore, a goal or resolution can be inspiring only when you can connect it to a larger purpose.
When you define any goal, identify its “true ends”—what benefits you expect to gain by successfully pursuing an idea or goal. For example,
- Instead of “Join a fitness center and workout every day,” try “Lose fifteen pounds by 6-June to drop a clothes-size and look and feel better at my best friend’s wedding.”
- Instead of “Reduce credit card debt,” try “Reduce expenses and pay off $12,000 in credit card debt in three months so that I can save $135 per month in interest fees.”
- Instead of “Attend fewer meetings,” try “Attend fewer meetings or delegate participation to reduce time at work and enjoy more quality time with family.”
Recognizing the true ends of your goals will sustain you through internal and external resistance to pursue your goals.