Setting SMART Goals

This week I highlight some basics on SMART, a technique to set our goals or key performance indicators in the right way.

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A dictionary would define a goal as the result toward which effort is directed. They are so important both in sciences as in life because they determine where do we want to go or the result we want to achieve. If we don’t state them in the right way, then our efforts may never take us there. 

SMART is mnemonic for a popular technique to help us define our goals in the right way. So we are talking here on how to define SMART goals. 

Specific – an objective that is specific has a greater chance to be achieved that a goal that is very generic. It is pretty different to say, “I want to run or I’d like to be a runner”, than to say “I want to run half an hour three times a week during a month because I want to be a runner”. The 6 W’s can become handy here: Who? What? When? Where? Which? Why? 

Measurable – you should include in your goal objective criteria to measure your progress. Otherwise it will be very easy to fool yourself about it. In our example we easily know that we achieved our goal if we ran half an hour three times a week for a month. We did it or we did not. We can’t hide anywhere. Think about how many, how much, or how often? 

Attainable – your goal should be realistic. This basically means that it should be challenging enough to get you motivated and do your extra mile, but at the same time within your range of action, even with effort. For example if you have been diligently running for a year or so and finishing well 10 KMs races, a half marathon or marathon can be a nice challenging goal to set. But if you haven’t ever run or haven’t run in some years, it would be too risky to attempt that at first. 

Relevant – we often have different interests and options. We must clarify our priorities and deliberately choose the goals that have the greatest relevance for our overall strategy or our strongest interest or wish. 

Timely – this one is all about when. It puts the emphasis on the reality of the time factor. It challenges us to bond our goals to a time. What can we do today? What can we do in 30, 60 or 90 days? What can we do this year? 

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”. Lewis Carroll 


    - Sergio Calvo

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