SMART Goals. Day Six: Time Based.

Welcome to Day Six of my series on setting SMART goals! Today is the last day, and it’s only fitting that we think about deadlines today.

We all need a deadline. We can let things go for years without a deadline. Just ask Grace how long she’s needed to lose 30kg.

When setting goals we should evaluate them from the perspective of What, How, Who, Why and When. You may have noticed that we’ve been doing just that in this series. Look how easily it all lines up.

What- Specific
How- Measurable
Who- Achievable
Why- Relevant
When- Time Based.

While we’ve been looking at goals, we’ve considered the What when we looked at making our goals specific. We considered the How when we decided how we would measure our goals. We considered the Who (the Who, not The Who!) when we asked whether our goals are achievable given our particular abilities and circumstances. We considered the Why when we looked at what makes our goals relevant to us. Finally, we consider When when we think about how we can make our goals time based.

When we’re setting deadlines we need to take into account everything we’ve considered so far. We know how much time and energy we have to throw into a project, we know how much it means to us and exactly how we plan to go about it. Once we’re at this stage we’re in a good position to set a deadline that is challenging, while also being realistic.

It’s also a good idea to set more than one deadline. If we break our goals up into smaller chunks it will be easier for us to achieve them than if we set one huge goal with a single deadline. If we only have one deadline, at the end of the year, for example, then it’s going to seem so far away at the start of the year that there isn’t any time-urgency to get started on our plan. And by the end of the year it will be too close and we won’t stand a chance to achieve the goal, so we let it slide for yet another year.

That’s how you end up needing to lose 30kg.

Instead of saying that I’m going to lose 30kg by the end of the year, I might say that I’m going to lose 10kg in 4 months, or 5kg in 2 months. The thought of all the hard work I’m going to have to put in to lose so much weight is daunting. I can’t possibly lose 30kg. But I can probably lose 5kg. If I manage to succeed at this smaller goal then I’ll be motivated to keep going.

We can learn something from not meeting our goals, too. If I don’t make it I can evaluate whether it was because I didn’t adhere to my plan. If not, then why not? What factors stopped me from achieving this goal and how can I work around them – if, indeed, the goal is still something that I’m sure I want? Do I need to change the plan? Do I need to change the deadline? Do I need more motivation? Do I need to change the goal?

It’s a continual process of evaluation. Circumstances change, even our goals can change, and that’s OK. If we get to the end of next year and still haven’t achieved the goals that we set when we make our New Year’s Resolutions, then we can look at why we didn’t achieve our goals and whether or not they still apply.

We’re all continually growing and changing. We achieve a lot in the course of a year, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The small things we do every day add up, but the progress is usually invisible to us. One good thing about thinking through our goals like this is that we document where we begin, where we want to finish and the steps we’ll take to get there. Achieving our goals can be important, but the journey is important, too.

As you consider your New Year’s Resolutions, think through how you want your life to be in the coming year. Take steps towards having a great year and being the best version of yourself that you can be. And because all living things grow, next year we can make some more New Year’s Resolutions and continue to grow some more.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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