[Productivity] How to be SMART about your goals and resolutions

Here it comes, the month in which everybody suddenly becomes another version of a “new me”, when faced with the new year. But, according to Forbes, only 8% of people achieve their NY resolutions. So where do we go wrong? Well, if I learned something after my college years, is that I need to set my goals in a S.M.A.R.T. way (foreshadowing).

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Let’s get some context first

My first encounter with goal setting was right after I finished college, when I was bombarded with the never-ending question: “What are you going to do now? Like, what’s your goal?”  And it felt like everybody talked to each other and decided to torture me with this question. Why torture? Well, I finished the Faculty of Letters, with a degree in English Language and Literature. My BA Thesis was on Edward Albee’s Theatre of Absurd. So, after finishing my college, I had a limited number of job options in this “field”. I was either going to follow an academic path or a translation path, neither of which I like too much. I was passionate about reading, writing and, as it turns out, these things do not help you make money so you can at least survive (unless you are really good at combining them).

So, I started job hunting from the first week of being out of college. And while perusing through all the available jobs, I started to think more and more about goals and achievements, and about growing up. I didn’t knew what I wanted to do/be. I only knew what I liked to do as a leisure activity. And then the researched started.

I was not a big fan of self-help books and articles back then because they were not telling me something new. Yet, that “old and obvious piece of information” was never something I applied in my life. Yeah, I know that I need to do that for the other thing to happen, but I’m not going to do it.” It makes no sense, right?

The most overused concept I encountered in my research was “SMART goals”. Books, articles, Pinterest boards, the concept was right there, right in my face. But everytime I skipped on reading about it, because I wanted something easier, simpler, I wanted the ABCs of setting my goals AND (most important) of achieving them. But guess what: this is as simple as it gets.

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What does SMART mean?

SMART is, of course, an acronym, and each letter stands for one concept. I am going to spare you my long paragraphs and share with you an infographic I made with key concepts surrounding SMART goals. It’s my first attempt at an infographic, so excuse some of the roughness in the visual department.

SMART Goals Infographic

Think of them as a team of superheroes, where each member has a specific characteristic. And together are unstoppable.

Setting a SMART goal

Like every self-help concept, it sounds really good in theory and on paper, but when it comes to applying it, almost everybody flops and stops working through it.

Let me give you an example of how to set a SMART goal, that I, myself, set up for this year.

S: I want to turn blogging into a part-time job.

M: I want to be able to pay for my expenses from blogging.

A: I will start writing more frequently and on a large range of subjects, thus building a portfolio.

R: Starting to write on new blogs, I will not expect to start earning money overnight, but this will not discourage me from experimenting with different topics and writing techniques.

T: I want to earn my first blogging money by the end of 2018.

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In the end…

I hope that I somehow brought some light and clarity into the concept of goals and resolutions and that I helped you to set goals that you will actually achieve. Now you know exactly what you want to achieve, how you’re going to achieve it, what blockers you might encounter trying to achieve it and when you want to achieve it.

Let me know in the comments below if you will use this method in the future and maybe share one of your goals with me. I am curious about what people want to achieve, because this acts as a motivation for myself as well.

Thank you for reading!
Alex

Photos by Estée Janssens

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