Goal Setting Theory and Strategies Made Simple

smart goal setting picture• How to set goals? Well ...
• Read about SMART goals - a tried and tested system that works
• - and about other powerful (better?) goal setting strategies, too
• Basically this goal setting article is goal setting theory made easy
• Plus, you can access other articles on setting and achieving goals

SMART Goal Setting at a Glance

Ah, SMART goals. Yes. An excellent goal setting system. This goal setting article is about that. But first ...

Since you're interested in goal setting, perhaps you're wondering What Is a Goal? - clicking that link will take you to a page where you get the answer to that question, plus a great goal setting tip or two.

Next, how about I let you in on a couple of small secrets about goal setting? Okay, I will.

Goal setting Secrets - No. 1:

There Is a System Even More Advanced than SMART Goal Setting

I know this, because I invented it.

It's nothing real fancy, just thorough. It works. I call it The Personal Development Guy's Advanced Goals Check and it's in the personal development article How to Set Goals Easily.

I don't recommend this system for every kind of goal, only for the bigger, more important goals. Like the kind of big, strategic goals you set in the boardroom of an enterprise or a corporation. You can jump to this page if you want to know more: Goal Setting Strategies.

Goal setting Secrets - No. 2:

There Is a System Which Is Much Simpler than SMART Goal Setting

I know this for the very same reason: I invented it. I describe it on the page How to Set Goals Easily. This is even less fancy than the other system I just mentioned, but it works just as well. Heck, I personally think it works even better, because it is so simple anyone can do it. In fact it's so simple even a child can do it.

Which, combined with the fact that this simple system forces you to take (really simple) action, actually makes it all the more powerful.

If you want to know more about that check out the goal setting article I mentioned above. The full title of it is: How to Set Goals Easily - Goal Setting for Kids & Smart Adults.

Goal Setting Secrets - No. 3:

Knowing What Lies Behind All Goal Setting Will Empower You

If you want in-depth knowledge about goals and the theory behind all of this, please consider reading the personal development article Goal Setting Theory: How to Set Goals that Work [LINK upcoming] or this one Goal Setting Games - Get Awareness to Achieve Goals Faster.

And now, let's take a look at the specifics of the SMART goals goal setting theory.

SMART Goal Setting at a Glance

If you are interested in goal setting, goal setting theory and goal setting strategies, you have probably heard that goals should be SMART or SMARTER ... which stands for:

- Specific
- Measurable
- Achievable
- Realistic
- Time-based

And as for adding an E and an R to the SMART acronym, those two stand for:

- Evaluate
- Re-evaluate

In truth, other ways of interpreting the acronym do exist. The above one will do just fine, though. Now, let's briefly look more closely at SMART Goals

The 'S' of SMART Goals Explained

S stands for SPECIFIC. The point is, you need to know WHAT your goal is in order to achieve it. So whenever you set a goal, ask yourself the basic questions WHAT, WHO, WHERE, WHEN, WHY and HOW. This translates into something like:

- WHAT do you want to achieve?
- WHO is or needs to be involved?
- WHERE is it happening?
- WHEN you you want to achieve your goal?
- WHY are you interested in this goal?
- HOW can you make it happen?

The 'M' of SMART Goals Explained

M stands for MEASURABLE. You're looking for a goal that you can record using some type of objective measurement, most likely some sort of numbers.

If you don't do this, how will you know WHEN you have succeeded?

Example: 'I want to slim down' is hard to measure. 'I want to loose 4 pounds in as many weeks' is specific and therefore measurable - and therefore probably doable.

Also, consider keeping a written record of both your goals and your progress - that can be both fun and a great motivator.

The 'A' of SMART Goals Explained

A stands for ACHIEVABLE. This is not as obvious as it seems. It is easy to deceive yourself.

If you have a self inflating ego you will tend to think you can do more than you actually can. If you have a self deflating ego your thinking will tend to be that you cannot achieve as much as you actually can. (For more info on self inflating and self deflating egos you can also read the self improvement article about Self Esteem Activities).

Also, you often need resources of different kinds; money, knowledge, people's help, time, etc. So check for that, preferably before you start.

The primary thing to remember regarding achievable goals, though, is that they must be within your control. Somehow YOU - and not other people - must be able to make your goal come true. That way no one and nothing can get between you and your achievement.

You can check that simply by asking yourself if there is any probable external reason why you might not be able to achieve your goal. If there is, change your goal so that there isn't.

The 'R' of SMART Goals Explained

R stands for REALISTIC. This means realistic for you.

What I mean is 'realistic for you' as opposed to 'realistic for an average person' - regardless of how you consider yourself when compared to what you think is an average person. (Quick tip: Don't compare yourself to anyone other than yourself). The point is this is all about you, not anyone else.

So, ask yourself: Can I do this? Can I achieve this goal? Will I? Do I even want to?

In general you will probably want to aim for this balance: The goal you set needs to be tough enough to push you out of your comfort zone but easy enough to keep you from getting discouraged.


The 'T' of SMART Goals Explained

T stands for TIME-BASED. Again, it's about measuring. When will you have achieved this goal? You can also rephrase that question like this: When is your deadline?

Oftentimes you can set this deadline yourself. Other times your hand is forced.

When your hand is forced by some external pressure for a deadline, fine. There is nothing much to discuss. You just do whatever it takes and reach your goal on time.

But when you can set you own deadlines you face several challenges, the first of which is motivation for even setting a deadline.

Lacking external pressure are you even interested in achieving your goal at some deadline? Wouldn't you much rather give yourself lots and lots of time so you don't have to get stressed? If you tend to give yourself lots of time, please do reconsider your position.

Procrastination is a huge problem for many people. So is getting sidetracked by other, fascinating ideas, possibilities and goals. Setting a deadline and sticking to it, on the other hand, WILL help you achieve your goal. Also there is a saying that any task will automatically expand to fill the time available to do it.

But since you are setting your own deadline you might as well be gentle with yourself and set one that you can live with.

Again, you will probably benefit from writing your goal down along with its deadline.

And again, too, do aim for the balance between tight enough to push you out of your comfort zone but lax enough to keep you from getting discouraged.

The 'E' and 'R' of SMARTER Goals Explained

Some goal setters add both an E and an R to the SMART acronym. These stand for Evaluate and Re-evaluate.
The point is this: In order to learn you need to evaluate. Basically what you are evaluating is 'did whatever-it-is work, or didn't it + why?' When you have achieved one goal, question how you could have done better and choose how to proceed to the next goal. Learn by the simplest, yet greatest method there is: Trial and error. Then improve.

With regard to your big goals, your long term goals, you will probably not want to just set your goal and then leave it alone. Instead, stay active on it! So, look over your long term goals periodically and see where you stand. Evaluate them, and change them when the need arises.

Final Words on SMART Goals

John Lennon has been accredited with saying: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans." And that is so true.

SMART goals - it's a proven system that works. The main problem with it is that it is too 'difficult to dance with' - meaning that people don't use it because, well, they're too busy living their lives and doing things 'quick and dirty' rather than SMART.

Another problem with this medium simple system is it doesn't talk about the benefits of modular goal setting (or whatever you want to call it). What I mean is this: Having many small goals that work towards a few bigger goals which in turn work towards one really big goal. This is also a proven system which works.

Even so, achieving just about anything becomes much easier using some sort of goal setting theory.

It could be a simple one like How to Set Goals Easily - Goal Setting for Kids & Smart Adults; or it could be a medium advanced one like SMART goals; or it could be an advanced one like Goal Setting Strategies.

In any case, different situations call for different approaches, so try them out and learn. Using and succeeding with the any kind of goal setting technique can and will encourage you to use it again.

Here is an overview of all the pages about Goal Setting:

What Is a Goal?

How to Set Goals Easily - Goal Setting for Kids and Smart Adults

Goal Setting Games - Get Awareness to Achieve Goals Faster

Goal Setting Strategies

How to Achieve Goals

Short Term Goals

Set Your Goals

Goal Setting Theory and Tips

I wish you the best of luck in setting and achieving goals!

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