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Setting SMART Behavior-Based Goals

When you’re discussing goal setting, SMART has nothing to do with your intelligence. (But it is smart to use this technique!).

SMART is actually an acronym that represents the five necessary facets of setting goals, and if even one of them is omitted, your goals will be much harder to achieve. So let’s get into what SMART really means!

S – Specific

While behavior-based goals can be harder to quantify than outcome-based goals, by focusing on the specific behaviors that need development or strengthening, we can see that clearly defining these behaviors is possible. For instance, “I will close or turn off all electronic notifications while working on this project”, is basically stating that the habit of becoming distracted will be curbed in order to achieve more productivity.

M – Measurable

To be effective, the road towards achieving a goal must be able to be measured. In the example in the above paragraph, the measure would be how much more of the project one is able to accomplish by turning off all electronic notifications.

A – Attainable

You want your behavior-based goal to be attainable, i.e. not so overwhelming that you start out feeling as if you can’t do it. That defeats the entire purpose of the exercise. Start off with smaller goals that you know you can achieve, such as positively changing one single habit, and focus on doing that consistently before attempting to change other habits. Build on these small successes and before you know it, you’ll be achieving your big goals, as well!

R – Realistic

Set yourself up for success right from the beginning by setting goals that are realistic to your personality and your lifestyle. Changing your behaviors to achieve a goal will never work if you aren’t realistic about who you are, what you’re capable of, and what you’re willing to do. Start with easy behavior changes that are easy for you to accomplish, and fit your lifestyle and personality. Once you’ve mastered those, you can ramp up to changing behaviors that might be more challenging to you.

T – Time-based

Giving yourself a time limit on achieving a specific behavior change can often spur more action toward that goal. But there’s a fine line between too little and too much time. Changing behavior patterns often takes time, so make sure that you’ve accounted for this.

By utilizing the SMART acronym when setting behavior-based goals, you’ll find yourself much more likely to achieve them, and have measurable ways to check your progress!

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