Setting Goals: Attainable Goals
Have you ever made a list of goals only to come back to it later and realize you didn’t achieve a single thing? If so, don’t worry. You’re not the only one. It can be hard to create realistic and attainable goals. The written goal is the starting point of achieving what you want. If you start out with a goal that’s not working for you, then you are far less likely to achieve it.
Many of you may be familiar with the term S.M.A.R.T. goals, developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. Michael Hyatt then updated this system with his system called S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. We at Lighthouse Therapy wanted to take this a step further and created a system called S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. goals. Besides the satire behind the name, there are real reasons we made tweaks to this acronym to help educators be successful in setting attainable goals.
S.M.A.R.T.E.S.T. goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Risky, Time-bound, Exciting, Sustainable, and Timely. This is a long acronym, so it may be helpful to dive deeper into what each of those letters stands for.
Specific – Give clear parameters to your goal. Don’t be vague.
Measurable – Whatever you choose, you need a clear way of measuring that you’ve reached your goal.
Actionable – Every goal should start with an action verb like quit, run, finish, or eliminate, rather than a to-be verb such as am, be, or have.
A bad example: Be more consistent at working out.
A good example: Go to the gym two days per week.
Risky – Goals are supposed to stretch us. So make sure you feel challenged by doing something just outside of your comfort zone.
Time-bound – Your goals should have a due date associated with them. This will give a sense of urgency to complete the goal.
If you stop here and only remember the acronym SMART that’s great. However, adding the E.S.T. to the end is where you connect a deep sense of meaning to what you are trying to accomplish and truly create attainable goals. This part of the process is the so-called secret recipe that makes this a success.
Exciting – Is your goal connected to what you find meaningful? You want to ensure that each goal is connected to something important to you. Otherwise, you will probably lack the daily motivation to finish what you’ve started.
Sustainable – Most of us can do things like going to the gym, getting to school early, or getting ahead on lesson planning for short periods. When trying to form a new habit, ask, “Is this sustainable long term?” For non-habit goals, it’s still a good idea to ask if the time commitment needed is sustainable.
Timely – Is this the right time in your life to try and achieve your goal? Maybe you wanted to go back to school for your master’s. That is a great goal, but if you just had a baby and have two other young children at home, this might not be the right time to start. However, if your goal is to work from home so you can be around your children, then this may be the perfect time to look for a new job.
I also want to add here that no goal will ever be accomplished if you don’t START! A goal is just writing something you wish would have happened if you don’t put in the effort to complete it. Hopefully, this framework will help you set the smartest goals possible to ensure you truly achieve your goals.