When it comes to setting SMART goals, the term does not just refer to cleverness or intelligence.
In fact, SMART is an acronym that stands for the following (1):
Collectively, these traits define a SMART goal, whereas other goals do not sufficiently meet these criteria.
According to a 2010 overview on goal setting and action planning for behavioral change, SMART goals are necessary because they “help individuals focus their desires and intentions and create a standard by which success can be measured” (1).
Additionally, SMART goals should be intrinsically motivating, based on both approach and mastery outcomes, and appropriately challenging.
Consider the following goal:
“I will perform resistance training 3 times per week for the next 8 weeks.”
This goal fits neatly into the SMART paradigm and gives you a distinct set of criteria that you have a great deal of control over.
This allows you to be the driver of whether you achieve the goal, as opposed to outside forces beyond your control that influence your outcome.
Let’s break down each SMART criteria in more detail.
Specificity is a must when it comes to setting SMART goals. Specific goals have a numerical value by which you can determine your success or failure.
Consider the previous example of performing resistance training 3 times per week for the next 8 weeks. This is so specific that it leaves no room for interpretation. At the end of a week, you either did or did not perform the workouts as planned.
Compare this with a goal such as “exercise more.”
This goal essentially means anything and nothing at the same time. If you just do a few minutes of walking, you’re technically exercising more but unlikely to see any results.
Given the lack of specificity, it’s much harder to gauge whether you’re meeting your goal criteria, and if you aren’t, what you need to change to make it happen.
Goal specificity should remove any ambiguity regarding whether you hit your goals.
In line with being specific, the goals must also be measurable to allow you to gauge whether you’re meeting them.</…….