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Writing Goals

Tony Beshara

Tip #11

The Rules for Writing Goals - Be S.M.A.R.T.

The Rules for Writing Goals - Be S.M.A.R.T.

Consider downloading your goals to your phone, tablet, or MP3 player. Along with other motivational media, you can listen to your verbalized goals as you drive in your car, jog, do housework, etc. Here are the rules for writing S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific and simple.

Goals should not be broad generalities. A statement such as "get a job and be happy” is not a specific goal. Also, it is best to state your goals in sensory language – words that describe that which is seen, felt, heard, and even smelled and tasted.

Examples of specific and simple job search goals would be:

"I see myself having five face-to-face interviews a week.”

“I hear the sound of a hiring manager making an appointment to interview me.”

“I feel the rush of success in anticipation for the opportunity to sell myself."

Manageable, measurable, and motivational.

Having manageable, measurable, and motivational goals leads to reasonable outcomes. Manageable goals are the ones you can personally manage. Having a goal to grow wings and fly is not manageable. Having a goal to become a better person is not measurable. Motivational goals must be the kind of goals you personally get excited about, and inspires you to action.

Attainable and achievable.

You need to develop goals that, though they might be a stretch, can be achieved and are possible. For example, you can control the activities necessary to get a job, but not whether you get the job offer. You goals should focus on those activities.

Relevant and risk-oriented.

On the other hand, to be meaningful your goals must have a real possibility for failure. A goal that has no inherent risk is not a goal. When writing goals for this exercise, many people will describe results that are almost certain to happen and list actions they are already taking. Instead, the risk and reward of a goal must be balanced. A goal should require a reasonable risk, and a reasonable challenge as well. The goal pre-supposes that you have the ability, even as it pushes your limits to attain the goal.

Track-able and timed.

Your goals should allow you to track tangible and quantifiable action. For example, a goal for obtaining interviews would stipulate that you schedule a certain number of interviews. And the goal should include a time frame. This may seem elementary, but many people design goals and don't set time limits - they let themselves off the hook before they ever start. Make goals that can be tracked and timed, and make those restrictions appropriately proportionate to the size of the goal.

As an example, a S.M.A.R.T. goal could be written like this:

"it is October 15th and my goal is to be onboard with my new job in time to celebrate Christmas. I know how grateful I will feel for my new opportunity. Everywhere around me, people will be happy about Christmas. Well, I am going to be doubly happy. My new job will be so fulfilling. I will see a new paycheck of a $____ a month. My family and friends will be so happy for me. I will be challenged and will feel like I am learning something new every day on my new job. My family will share in my happiness. I love my new job!"

This goal encompasses all of the S.M.A.R.T. attributes. Importantly, note that it is specific, and is stated in sensory-based language. It is also simple, measurable, certainly motivational, achievable, relevant, challenge/skills balanced, and timed.

Research reveals that goals need to be stated positively. The mind and emotions react differently to a positive statement or a negative statement. Goals stated negatively (e.g. I won’t do…) instead reinforce whatever the person did not want to do.

Research also reveals that public goals are more effective than private goals. This indicates that you make others aware of your goals. Psychologically you are more apt to achieve your goals if you know that other people are "watching."

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