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For goal setting to be effective and achievable, the commonly used SMART way is much preferred.
It is an acronym for:
Specific – It is important that each goal is specifically stated and the present tense is used. The more specific a goal is the more genuine and less confusing it is, and the person in question can become more focused at attempting to accomplish it. For example, “I want to lose weight” is not being specific. “I want to lose three kilograms by the end of next month” is.
Measurable – When a goal is measurable, it means being able to track the progress over the entire period for which the goal is set. For example, “I want to read more books this year” is not a suitable measurable goal. The word “more” is a vague term. “I want to read forty books this year” is more appropriate. The reader is able to chart his progress on a monthly or quarterly basis. On average, he knows he has to read at least three books a month or exactly ten books per quarter.
Achievable – A goal has to be achievable to be meaningful so that time and efforts are not wasted. Careful planning in setting a goal is necessary to include considerations such as possible obstacles, strict adherence to the goal schedule, setting deadlines for part accomplishments towards achievement of the entire goal, the people who are likely to be helpful, and the experience and skills that can be resourced or acquired for the attainment of the goal.
Realistic – Pursuing a goal involves taking risk and making sacrifices. This may mean slowing down and not making much progress along the way, and failure to achieve what one sets out to accomplish; suffering loss of or reduction in income, spending less time for other things, for example family life, leisure pursuits or even abandoning a relationship. One has to think carefully about all this when setting a goal. If need to, look for an alternative way to attain what one desires.
Timely – When setting goal one has to be sure the timing is right and that it does not coincide with any other personal plans. For example, marriage may be pending or an important examination may be due in several months’ time. If all this has been taken into consideration, it may be wise to prolong the period to achieve the goal. Otherwise, the person pursuing the goal is likely to come under intense pressure.
SMART guideline is a useful one. However, for effective goal-setting, one can follow NLP’s goal-setting guidelines.