Have you some goal(s) in life that just never really seem to turn into anything concrete? Maybe you’ve been telling yourself and anyone else who asks about some job or career that you’re going to have one day, but that’s been going on for 10, 15, 20 years. Are you any closer to actually making it happen?
If the answer to that question is no, or the progress you’ve made is exceptionally small, it could be that you could benefit from learning about or reacquainting yourself with the concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals. Each letter in the word represents another as in:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-bound
So for starters, your goal needs to be specific instead of general. A statement like, “I’d like a job that makes a lot of money”, is an example of something vague. How much money is a lot? And there are so many jobs that bring in a lot of money but not all those jobs are something you might enjoy or be qualified to do at this time.
A statement like, “I’d like a job that brings in $80,000.00 per year”, is specific on income but weak on the kind of job. When you have vague or poorly worded goals, there is a better than average chance that the goals just aren’t going to happen. I once knew a client who told me his goal was to be a dentist. A full ten years later, he hadn’t taken any forward progress toward that goal and yet, he still claimed that as his long-term ambition.
Not only does a goal need to be specific, but it does need to be measurable. Measurable ensures you know when you’ve reached it! So that first goal of having a lot of money wouldn’t qualify unless you define what a lot of money is. To you a lot of money might mean something very different from the person sitting beside you.
Achievable has to do with the ability to go from where you are to where you need to be. Do you have the skills required to make your goal become a reality? Is it true that you can do anything you want? Some things are more achievable and others just not possible. Without bringing about a massive shift in your experience, education and skill set, it probably won’t happen.
Realistic? As supportive as I am, and as positive as I am, there are times I just shake my head and say to myself that what someone is telling me as a goal is never going to come about. It’s entirely unrealistic. So a woman in her late 40’s with a poor education, no teeth, poor health, who likes to sing karaoke and thinks she’s going to be a famous pop singer one day and has no connections period is dreaming.
All goals should be time-bound. “One day I’m gonna have a million dollars”. While the number is specific, there’s no time-line. Again, it’s probable that the goal won’t happen, and the person will twist things much later in life and say all they meant was that over their lifetime, one day they’d have accumulated a million dollars if you added up all their salary. That may be true, but it perverted the original goal.
Here’s a statement that might better stand a possibility of happening:
“My goal is to be a primary teacher with the local school board in the next 4 years”. This statement meets the criteria if the statement is made by someone who has or is pursuing their Bachelor of Education. While it varies from place to place world-wide, a University degree may be 3 years, and a Bachelor of Education an extra year. After that, it is possible to get a teaching assignment.
So the above statement is Specific (primary teacher), Measurable (when you get your B. of Ed.), Achievable (based on your attitude and marks), Realistic (many people aspire to this and graduate), Timebound (4 years).
In addition to this goal, it’s a good idea to work backwards. So just before you were a teacher with your Bachelor of Education degree, where did you graduate from? Now how long did you go to school there? How did you pay for that? Did you have to go to University to get your Bachelor Degree? Where did you go, and for how long? How did you pay for that education? Where did you get those loans from? How did you apply for those loans? Where did you get the loan and school application forms? Where did you meet the Counsellor who gave you the application forms?
This backward planning should take you right back to where you are standing today. Now you begin the move forward, in this case by meeting with the Counsellor and getting the loan and school registration application forms. If you plot things and write the steps down, it’s so much easier to check off your progress and gain momentum when you see yourself inching toward your goals.
This process can be the same for job hunting, planning a Turkey dinner, a Christmas vacation, or on a smaller scale, a homework assignment.
Try it out and see if you don’t see a change.