What SMART Goals Are + How to Create Them For Your Action Plan

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Before getting into the 5 steps to create SMART goals, I want to set the foundation up front: Walt Disney said,

“The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” 

(And who in the world doesn’t want to listen to Walt Disney??) So you’ve quit talking and have decided to start doing. But where do you start? Well, if you want to create an effective road-map for anything, you should definitely start with SMART goals.

how to create smart goals acronym worksheet template

My ‘start’ with goal setting

Looking in the mirror at my post-second-baby body was utterly depressing. The flabby thighs and butt. The ballooning gut. The leaky, aching boobs that I knew would shrink to saggy bags of nothingness when I quit breastfeeding. More depressing was the fact that I was 6 months post-partum and still looked pregnant. Like, I appeared to be incubating another human from the time I’d delivered to that point, pregnant.

I’d rather do a geography exam (I’m really, really bad at geography) than have to look at myself in that mirror. Because I knew it was my own fault. I was exhausted, my husband traveled for work an average of 4 nights a week, and being a SAHM wasn’t quite the glamorous lifestyle I’d envisioned.

But even more depressing was that every time I tried to eat better or work out regularly, it never lasted more than 2 weeks.

Granted, I had many mind-set problems at that point in my life. But also, I never had set a goal for myself health, financial, or career-wise before. And I felt completely adrift. Completely hopeless that I’d never have a normal sized belly (let alone a strong core again.)

The thing that changed my point of view on this was learning how to set SMART goals for myself and watch myself crush them!!

What kind of goals should I set for myself?

I hear this question sometimes and am always a little confused. You shouldn’t be asking what kinds of goals you should set for yourself unless you’re crystal clear on where you want to go in many areas of your life. I think it’s becoming more accepted for younger adults to ask this because so many parents haven’t really pushed their kids to think that far ahead. (My parents included).

But we’re in a very new world since COVID, and working from home + delivery and tele-meetings are possibly the new norm. This could mean a totally different landscape for creating goals for yourself, whether they’re health, career, financial, or even relationship goals.

But at the very root of this question you should be able to categorize your life and have dreams for your life direction in each of those categories. If you’ve never explored this, check out the post: 8 Goals Everyone Should Have in Life to get started.

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What SMART goals are + how SMART goals work

SMART is (obviously) an acronym. So ‘SMART goals’ stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Keep in mind that some sources will say a certain letter in the SMART acronym means something different than what I’m telling you. As I’ve skimmed through every source imaginable looking for the true definitions of each letter, I realized it doesn’t matter… What does matter is how you use it.

How to set Specific goals

Ok, just stating, “I want to lose weight” is actually more of the whiny statement I expect from my bestie while we’re trying on swimsuits than a specific goal. And it seriously won’t get you very far. You need a good clear definition. “I want to lose ten pounds.” That’s better.

The more specific you can get, the better your definition will be to achieve the next steps in your goal-setting expedition. 

So go ahead and write down your goals (as specifically as possible!) in your workbook. {You can grab the SMART Goals worksheet template at the bottom of the article! ?}

Making your goals specific is just the starting point in your SMART goal setting. It’s the foundation for making a clear path. And making effective mini-goals to get you to the endpoint, ie. achieving your goal!

How to set Measurable goals

The main gist of making goals measurable is pretty self-explanatory. You must have some way to measure and know that you’re making progress. There must be some sort of metric to your actions and where you are so that you’ll know your progress.

So if your goal is something more structured like running a 5k, you’re able to break your increments into a number of kilometers you can run by a certain date for your metrics. If you’re losing weight, break down the amount of pounds lost into chunks based on number of weeks or months. And if you’re building muscle, maybe your metrics are based on the amount you’re lifting per week and the number of times you lift every week.

Think about how your goal can be broken down into chunks you can actually measure. Create a reward for yourself for each small thing you accomplish. I promise you’re gonna get burnt out at some point. These little rewards will help you move on to your next phase!

How to set Attainable goals.

Goals should be a challenge, but not hopeless. Let’s get real here–if you’re 40 pounds overweight and you’ve decided in the middle of February to lose those 40 lbs and look totally svelt by spring break, unless you’re using some totally unhealthy (and probably dangerous) weight loss method, this is so not happening. I have to credit the ambitious dream, but honestly–that far of a stretch will just kill your dream and motivation when you realize after one month that this is nevah. gonna. happen.

Creating goals that are attainable has a LOT to do with your time available, your willingness to make it happen, and your realistic attitude. You’re a mom. You know things happen. Kids get sick, extra work has to be done sometimes, your sister has to be talked off a ledge occasionally. Know that you probably have to work in padding, and create an atmosphere where your goal is attainable.

1-Determine if more is needed to achieve any of your chunks, or mini-goals

2-If more is needed, rewrite your goals to include extra steps

3-Don’t get discouraged if it’s gonna take longer than expected! Goal achievement is a PROCESS!

How to set Relevant goals

Make your goals relevant to your overall life plan and values, but also to more immediate dreams. Think about your 5-year plan and your 10-year plan for your life. Really think about how relevant your goals are!

Part of relevancy comes in attaching those goals to something emotional or truly meaningful to you.

WHY do you want to lose 20 lbs? Because of high blood pressure? Or because you want to make sure you don’t have a stroke and can watch your kids grow up without them having to take care of you.

Take your answers 2-3 levels deep. Keep asking ‘WHY?’ like your 3-year-old in her ‘never-stop-talking’ phase (you know you remember those exhausting conversations!)

Take a look at your list of goals. Surely you have waaaay more than just the 5 allotted spaces in the SMART Goal Setting workbook, right? {Grab that below! ?} Take some time to sit down and figure out what your major life goals are. Make a mind map, or a giant list, and follow the paths to your smaller goals.

Are they all in alignment with the bigger picture?

With your values?

Do your goals actually MEAN something important to you?

Use this opportunity to weed out anything that is simply clouding your paths. Don’t waste your time on goals that won’t help you get to your end result. You can’t get that time back!

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1-Determine if any of your goals should be eliminated. Which ones REALLY MATTER?

2-If you’re removing goals, feel good about becoming more focused in your goal-setting process!!

3-Rewrite and re-chunk if you need to reorganize at this point

How to create Time-bound goals

Making your goals time-bound is as easy as just giving them a deadline. Even though I’m totally sure you’re squirming in your seat to read another juicy anecdote about goals gone wrong, I’m not really inclined to give one up today. Because this last part is so simple, you really don’t need a story about somebody else’s silly mistakes.

You need a deadline.

Bottom line.

Once you have a time-frame for your mini-goals (and micro-goals if those are needed), you’ll have a clear, giant view of your realistic deadline for your goal. Now you just need to make sure you put your plan in place so the action is happening!

Create the urgency.

But make sure it’s a realistic deadline when you’re making your goals time-bound. If you’ve just torn a ligament in your knee, running a 5K is seriously not gonna happen in the next 2-3 months. Many of us make a goal for spring break or a vacation with health, fitness, or weight loss goal setting. It’s a set date, so we have a deadline. Use this to create your MEASURABLE chunks! (And always give yourself a time buffer! Never know when you’re gonna get sick!)

1-Use your revised timelines to calculate out a realistic deadline for your goal.

2-Put each of these deadlines into your calendar.

3-Create task lists for each of these deadline-bound mini-goals.

(#s 2 and 3 are so, so important!!! They mean you intend to DO your steps to achieve those goals!)

And to get a better visual of how they can be broken down in regards to being specific, measurable, and time-bound, take a look at this example:

how to create smart goals measurable
how to create smart goals measurable

You should now have a complete road-map of what you need to do to achieve your health goals!

Whew!! How does it feel??

I encourage you to share your successes and even your failures! Failures are really just lessons learned for next time–don’t forget that! (I’ve learned many, many lessons, BTW.) ?

Don’t forget to grab your SMART Goals Workbook + get access to ALL the free resources at the STELLA NADENE Resource Vault! Get access here: ?

smarter goals meaning acronym worksheet

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