SMART Goals Aren’t Always Smart

Make your SMART goals smarter and more achievable

Most people know what SMART goals are. SMART is an acronym to help you create and realize your dreams. The letters stand for:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Adaptable or Attainable
R = Realistic or Relevant
T = Time-bound

When a goal is created using the acronym as a model, you are more likely to achieve it.
Unless it doesn’t work.

Making SMART Goals SMARTER

So why do SMART goals fail?
Research on weight control from the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal¹, shows that internal motivators are more important than external ones. Other research studies support these findings.When SMART goals don’t engage your emotions — your internal motivators — they don’t work.
They may be SMART, but they don’t always result in success.

To improve your odds of success just add two more letters to SMART.
E = Emotion-based

SMARTER goals are infused with emotions that energize your motivation.
You add the emotion factor by answering these questions:
What is your life like now and how will it be different when you have achieved your goal? The answer gives you a snapshot of where you are now compared to where you will be when you have succeeded. It shows you how your life will change for the better.

  • What specific benefits will you gain? List every benefit that can result from achieving the goal. Will you have more free time, more work-life integration, more income? The more detailed the benefit, the more motivating it is. Creating a vision board is a good way keep the benefits front and center.
  • What will you avoid? This question helps you identify what can be mitigated or eliminated if you succeed. For example, losing weight will help you avoid serious illnesses, expensive therapies, and loss of independence.
  • How will you feel after you succeed? Describe how you will feel when you succeed. Close your eyes and let your imagination create the future. Sink into the positive emotions and anchor them to the vision of the goal achieved.

Your answers to these questions add fuel to the goal. It focuses you on the outcome rather than just the process for achieving it.
R = Resilient

Resilience is the ability to stay the course, especially when the going gets tough. You need to answer two questions:

  • What obstacles need to be overcome to achieve your goal? By identifying where the possible stoppers are, you can assess how much of a risk they are for the outcome you want. The clearer you define the obstacles, the less likely you will blindsided by them.
  • How will you overcome these obstacles? This is where you create Plan B, C, D, and so on. This may required you to adjust other SMART factors. For example, if you discover that it will take an extra 10 months to save for your first semester of culinary school, you may have to shift the timing for the goal or find a means of coming up with the additional funds.

Set SMARTER Goals and Improve Your Odds of Success

SMART goals work; SMARTER goals work better. Try it and see for yourself.
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Adaptable or Attainable
R = Realistic or Relevant
T = Time-bound
E = Emotion-based
R = Resilient
Take one goal that you deeply want and are struggling to achieve and turn it into a SMARTER goal.
If you have any questions, just email pat@phaddock.com and mention this article in the subject line.

Resource

  1. Exercise motivation, eating, and body image variables as predictors of weight controlTeixeira, PJ, et. al., Department of Exercise and Health, Faculty of Human Movement, Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal.

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