Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies. Maybe not intentionally, but still, it happens. We set a common goal like one of these:

  1. “I’m going to lose weight.” 
  2. “I have to save money.”
  3. “It’s time to get organized.”

But before we know it, *poof* the goal falls by the wayside, and we don’t understand why. Maybe it’s because our goal was kinda wishy-washy, not very realistic, or without a finish line.

The concept of S.M.A.R.T. goals was originally geared towards business management, but it can be applied to everyday life issues just as effectively. As you can see in the graphic, the acronym stands for:

  • Smart
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

When you apply this to goal #1, rather than saying, “I’m going to lose weight.” a SMART goal could look more like this: “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by September 1st.” It’s specific, it’s measurable, it’s achievable, it’s realistic, and it has an end date. You can then formulate a plan for achieving your SMART goal such as taking a 30-minute walk twice a day.

Goal #2, “I have to save money!” is pretty vague. Are you saving for a new pair of shoes or a new car? How much money will you need, and when do you want it by? Without those details, it’s nearly impossible to formulate an executable plan. Once you figure that out, you decide what money-saving actions can you take. Maybe you’ll make coffee at home and skip the drive-through brew every day.

“I need to get organized!” What exactly does that mean? Is your closet floor covered by a mountainous heap of clothes? Is your kitchen table buried under piles of unopened mail? Could you find a battery or a paperclip if your life depended on it? (← hey, if MacGyver can, so can you!) You will make measurable progress by setting SMART goals for yourself.

For example, make a decision about five articles of clothing in that pile on the floor every day after work until the pile is gone, and hang or fold whatever you’re keeping. If you don’t have enough hangers, get some. If you need a dresser, set a SMART goal for obtaining one.

In order to tackle paper piles, you need to systematically chip away at the mail. “I’m going to open and process today’s mail AND take care of fifteen pieces of the backlog every day.” Start putting junk mail in the recycle bin immediately instead of setting it down, only to have to pick it up and review it again. And again. And again. See the problem?

You can turn a junk drawer into your “go-to” drawer in about 15 minutes: dump everything out, toss the trash, and use a drawer organizer to sort the “keep” stuff into “like with like” categories.

Positive wording is more motivating, so add a smiley-face phrase as the carrot you dangle in front of yourself when creating SMART goals:

  • “When I lose ten pounds, my clothes will fit more comfortably!” 
  • “I am looking forward to buying a car next spring when I’ve got the down payment!”
  • “My morning routine will be easier when my clothes closet is organized!”

Being organized isn’t much of an issue for me, since I’ve made a career out of it for fourteen years! As for money management, the former accountant in me deals with our finances pretty effectively and efficiently.

But the weight loss issue? Pffft. I’m telling you, this post-menopausal weight does not seem to budge. Do I want to deal with it? Ah, no. BUT. Do I want to be healthier? You betcha – for a lot of reasons, and for lots of people in my life.

Here’s a link to an interesting article from Harvard Health about making lifestyle changes. It’s not that we don’t know what we need to do, it’s finding our way to the right HOW, and navigating our self-sabotaging habits. Since there’s no magic wand to wave, S.M.A.R.T. goals can help.

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