Are Your Goals S.M.A.R.T.?

You’ve probably heard of S.M.A.R.T goals before…and that’s because it’s a formula that works. Here’s an overview:

SPECIFIC – Your goal needs to be spelled out very precisely and you also need to have a reason WHY behind your goal…some benefit or emotional attachment that will keep you focused. For example, a goal might be I want to scan this box of photos in the next 90 days. Or I’m going to write a bio about one of my ancestors each week for the next month.

Using language that leaves no doubt as to what the goal is, why you want to achieve the goal, and how you will get it is very important. If you are not able to be detailed in your description of the goal, it will be hard to meet it. Take the time to do this part right.

MEASURABLE – You make your goal measurable by identifying exactly what you want to accomplish so putting a quantity and a date to your project.  So rather than saying “one day” I’m going to organize my photos, you have to say by the end of the week I’m going to scan 10 photos or I’m going to review my records for James Watson (1842-1897) and make sure I have sources for all of them by the end of this month. This way you make your goal measurable and you’ll be able to see if you accomplished that goal in that timeframe.

ACTIONABLE / ACHIEVABLE – There are different things that “A” can stand for, but it’s usually actionable or achievable. In order to achieve anything, you must take action. So, make your goal actionable and achievable, where you do something each day that will eventually result in an accomplished goal. Goals should be achievable or you will quickly get frustrated. Be accurate about the time it takes to reach a goal, and what actions it takes to get there. Also, know who will be responsible for doing it.

REALISTIC / RELEVANT – “R” can stand for realistic or relevant, and both are important. If you want your goal to succeed, it should most certainly be realistic or you will fail.  Once you achieve that goal you can set a new goal.

TIME BOUND / TIMELY / TRACKABLE – Various authors refer to the “T” in the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as time-bound, timely or trackable. All of these t’s are important parts of the goal creating and setting process. If you don’t set a time limit and you can’t track what is happening, your goal will be hard to quantify or show as achieved.


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