Learning To Set Goals

goal settingThe success of your ability to reach a goal is directly related to how well you establish your personal goals.

In his 1954 work The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker described a process for developing goals.

Since that time, a number of mnemonic devices have been developed to assist people in the goal developing process. One of the most popular is “SMART.”

The “S” in SMART stands for specific. Your goal should be as specific as possible. For example, “I want to lose 10 pounds,” is a better goal than saying, “I want to lose weight.” A goal of “applying for graduate school at not less than 3 local schools” is far better than saying “I plan to continue my education.”

The “M” in SMART stands for measurable. To know when you have attained your goal, and to know what kind of progress you have made, you need to have a way to gauge your progress.

In the examples above 10 pounds and 3 schools are both measurements. Other examples of measurable components of goals would be “I plan to save $1,000 toward the purchase of a car.”

In SMART, the “A” stands for attainable. Goals should give you something to strive for, and take you out of your comfort zone, but they should not be so far away that you set yourself up for failure.

Setting a goal of losing 10 pounds over the course of 6 weeks is usually attainable, while setting a goal of losing 10 pounds in one week is typically neither attainable nor healthy.

The “R” in SMART stands for relevant. Your goal setting should be directly related to what you want to achieve. This requires you to give careful consideration to the path that will actually lead you to what you want to attain.

For example, if your goal is to position yourself to receive a promotion at work, will furthering your education through graduate school helps you more or less than attending work-related seminars?

Finally, the “T” in SMART stands for timely. You should include reasonable time components in your goal. In our above example about graduate school, the goal must include a time component to ensure that the applications are received in time to be considered for the upcoming session.

Give yourself adequate time to achieve your goal, but not so much time that you find yourself procrastinating [Stop Procrastinating]. A little time pressure can be motivating.



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