How to Plan, Schedule, and Crush your Goals Using SMART Goals

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The benefits of setting SMART goals so you actually achieve your big, crazy dreams.

Are you making New Year Resolutions this year? If you are, I would consider setting SMART goals instead. This will increase your chances of being successful at your resolutions because you have a plan in place.

If you need some ideas for New Year’s resolutions, I got you covered in this post.

Have you heard of SMART goals when setting business goals? Well, this technique can certainly be applied to your personal life as well!

Research from Lock and Latham supports what SMART goals are all about: effective performance is directly related to goals being challenging and specific.

This year, you can take that vague goal of “getting stronger” and turn it into a specific goal. A better goal would be “being able to do a pull-up by the end of 2023”.

Once you have your SMART goals laid out, make sure you schedule them. Chances are if you’ve made big resolutions before (like saving money or losing weight), you’ve probably had good intentions but little follow-through.

If you want to make sure that your resolutions actually stick, try setting some SMART goals instead! This will help track your progress and ensure that you’re on the right path to actually reaching your goals.

Now let’s dive into SMART goals and some benefits of setting SMART goals for yourself.

Setting an ambitious yet realistic and clear goal at the start of every year will help you succeed. After all, having something greater than simply “being healthier” provides the purpose and drive for the year ahead.

What does SMART mean?

The SMART acronym is

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic,
  • Time-bound

so let’s dive deeper into each one.

Be Specific

Ambiguous or general goals are difficult (if not impossible) to achieve because there is no way to measure progress. If your goal is “to be more fit” then there isn’t a clear way to measure this. However, if your goal is “to be able to do a pull-up” then you can track your progress. It is much easier to see how far away you are from reaching that goal.

Because at the end of the day, you can either do a pull-up or you can’t. Being fit is SUPER subjective so it’s easy to make up reasons why you’re more fit.

While, in reality, you aren’t really where you wanted to be by the end of the year.

SMART goals listed in a hexagon. there are a bunch of items, a succulent plant, magnifying glass, cup of coffee, three pencils, paper clips and a notepad all circling the SMART goals

Make Them Measurable

To take it a step farther, be even MORE SPECIFIC by writing HOW you’re going to achieve it. Don’t just write down “to be able to do a pull-up”, instead write actionable steps to get to that first pull-up. Are you going to practice doing pull-ups every day? Are you going to follow a program that focuses on upper body strength?

There are many different approaches to getting your first pull-up so you need to determine what is the best way for you.

Measurable goals will help in tracking progress and determining if you are on track to reach your goals. If your goal is to do a pull-up, then make sure to track how many times a week you do pull-ups or how much assistance you need (either bands or machine-assisted).

Break down each goal into smaller tasks so it’s easier to see what needs to be done. A step-by-step guide is easy to follow, right? Why don’t you use this technique for your goals?

If you need assistance to pull yourself up, track what weight or band you are using. This is going to make it easier to determine if you are getting closer to doing a pull-up unassisted.

Track your Progress

One of the best ways to stay motivated when it comes to goal-setting is by tracking your progress. This can be done in a number of ways such as:

  • keeping a journal
  • using an app
  • having a spreadsheet

I personally use Google sheets so I can access it on my phone or on the computer.

When you see that you are making tangible strides forward, it will give you the encouragement to keep going. It can also be helpful to set new goals based on the progress you have made to continue pushing yourself further.

For example, if your goal was to do a pull-up by the end of the year, what if you are able to do a pull-up by June successfully?

Easy, set a new goal for doing two pull-ups by December! This way, you’ll be able to crush your next goal and use the original successful goal as motivation to keep going.

a list of check marks. There are six boxes and 4 of them are checked off. benefits of SMART goals

Make It Achievable

Set a goal that is both feasible and reachable. If you make a goal of doing ten pull-ups in a row and can’t even do one pull-up yet, this is probably not achievable. It takes dedication and consistency to be able to build muscle and be able to pull yourself up. Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting an unattainable goal.

It’s good to have a challenging objective in mind, but make sure that it is still an achievable goal! Setting the bar too high will only end in disappointment and frustration. This will make it that much harder to recover and try again.

If you need help with this step then ask a friend or family member for their opinion! They can provide an outside perspective on your goal if they think it is achievable as well.

Make them Realistic

This ties in with making your goals achievable. Your goal should be something that you can reasonably accomplish, given the time and resources that you have. It’s good to shoot high and want to achieve great things, but don’t put yourself in a position where it’s impossible for you to succeed.

A realistic goal is one that takes into account your current abilities and circumstances. If you want to do ten pull-ups but you are currently unable to do even one, then it’s not a realistic goal.

You want to set a goal that isn’t going to be easy to accomplish (e.g. you have to put in minimal effort to hit it) but not so hard that there’s no way you can do it. This takes some trial and error so feel free to adjust as needed.

Using the example from before, if you crush your goal by June then make a new one! Don’t just stop mid-year because you were successful earlier than you predicted.

Time Limits

three Christmas tree bulbs and a blank notebook. The writer is about to write out their new year's resolution and create SMART goals.

Set a deadline for each goal- this will create a sense of urgency and help keep you focused. This is especially helpful when working on long-term goals. When it comes to fitness, many people give themselves too much time because the goal seems so far away.

If you’re trying to do a pull-up, then set a deadline for yourself of six months or a year. Having a time frame in mind makes it easier to focus on smaller tasks that will eventually lead up to the larger goal.

Since you have a deadline to meet, you are more likely to schedule time into your busy routine because as humans, we’re wired to not want to fail.

Benefits of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, let’s talk about the benefits.

1. It Creates an Action Plan for Big Goals

Don’t just wing it when it comes to achieving your goals- have a list of specific criteria you need to do to reach that goal! This will help guide you on what you need to do in order to be successful.

One of the best ways to make sure that you hit your goals is by preparing and planning.

Having a specific goal in mind…

breaking it down into attainable goals with deadlines and tasks…

and putting it all together in an action plan!

Having an end goal without knowing how to get there won’t do much good, so take some time to map out each step of the journey.

It takes strategy to lay the groundwork for certain success. ‘Inevitable’ refers to something that is foreseen or assured to occur. We can make our goals inevitable if we have an action plan and we know what we need to do.

Then most importantly, actually doing the things on the plan.

If you want to make sure you achieve your goals, you must prepare and plan ahead of time. This isn’t wizardry or voodoo, but planning helps your chances of success rise dramatically!

words: "A Goal without a plan is just a wish" 
words are on a notepad. there is a plant, glasses, iphone, pen, keyboard, ipad, clock, mouse. SMART goal benefits

Set Short-term goals

When it comes to long-term goals, breaking them down into miniaturized clear objectives makes the entire process feel less daunting. Completing a goal that is too large can be discouraging and cause you to lose motivation.

By setting smaller goals along the way, you are still making progress towards the larger outcome while avoiding these feelings of discouragement.

Create a plan for where you’ll be in one week, two months, and six months if the aim is to complete a pull-up by the end of the year. This way, it is easier to track progress along the way rather than waiting until you reach your goal 100% before assessing how well things went.

Otherwise, it will be September and you will realize you are nowhere close to completing your goal.

For example- if doing a pull-up by December seems like too large of an objective then set smaller goals each month (e.g., do five non-consecutive pull-ups every other day).

Having short-term objectives throughout your journey makes reaching the final destination much more achievable while also helping to keep motivation levels high during times when self-discipline or determination are lacking.

Schedule it out

SMART goal and deadlines

In order to make sure that your goals actually get accomplished, you need to schedule them into your day! This means dedicating specific times of the day (or week) where you will work on completing a task or action step related to your goal.

If the goal is doing one pull-up by the end of the year, then during each month you will need to dedicate time every day (or week) specifically for pull-ups.

This way, there is no excuse as to why the goal wasn’t accomplished. You have set a specific time and date for it and by following through with this plan, you are increasing the chances of success.

By doing this, it becomes easier to stick with it because there is already a plan mapped out that doesn’t require much thinking or decision-making when it comes time to take action.

2. It Creates Accountability

Accountability partners can be extremely helpful when it comes to reaching goals. These are people who know about your objectives and help keep you honest asking how things are going or providing encouragement when needed.

A great way to create accountability is by sharing your goal with others on social media or even just telling a close friend. When other people know what you’re working towards, it makes it harder to give up because there will be an audience watching and rooting for your success!

If you don’t have an accountability partner, SMART goals still allow you to call your own shot and make a clear deadline. If you make an action plan and say that the goal needs to be done by December, if you don’t reach it then that’s on you. There’s no denying that you missed it at that point.

If you’re vague and just say you’ll hit it when you hit, there’s no accountability there. You could be working on it forever and convince yourself you aren’t behind or procrastination.

 3. It sets a clear deadline

If you’re creating a plan for something that is going to take months or even years of work, then it can be easy to lose track of the bigger picture- what happens when you hit the goal? How does your life change? Will becoming stronger by building upper body strength help you live a healthier life? Envision what that will look like when you reach your goal.

If getting in shape means feeling more confident and being able to run around without getting tired, then that is something to keep in mind when motivation starts waning. Having an idea of what you want to achieve once the final destination is reached can help you stay focused throughout the entire journey.

4. You set more meaningful goals

 SMART goals force you to discover why you want to set these goals in the first place. Good goals are measurable and specific.

Otherwise, it’s really just a wish. What I like about the smart method is that it’s an exercise that makes you spell it out. What specifically do you want? How is this a measurable goal? Can you actually achieve it (if you put the work in)?

SMARTER Goals

To go further than just smart goals is the smarter goals method. In my mind, it’s basically the same thing except it has you Evaluate and Readjust. This is something I’ve been talking about throughout this whole post.

I think this is a natural step in the goal setting process but if you want it spelled out, there it is! You definitely need to take a closer look at the different things you’re doing and make sure you are actually making real progress towards your goals.

Look at the specific tasks and desired results and make sure they are aligned. If they are not, then you can make better goals. Because let’s be real, when you first call your shot, it’s very unlikely that you aren’t going to pivot.

It’s a part of personal development and being a human being. You live and learn. You may realize you don’t really want to achieve that original goal anymore and that’s okay. Then you can make a better more aligned goal. One that is going to get you to your dream life.

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via GIPHY

The benefits of goal setting are vast and go way beyond what I mentioned here. It gives you a roadmap, and a sense of direction to get to your dream life.

SMART goal setting ensures that you are being intentional when you set goals.

It is an exercise that helps you spell it out. It’s a good start but at the end of the day, you will need to put in the work to reach your goals.

Let me know in the comments below what are some of your goals for this year?

Until next time,

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How to Plan, Schedule, and Crush your Goals Using SMART Goals

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