January 19, 2018

Setting SMART Goals for Personal Growth

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It’s a new year and that means we’ve all got a list of new goals to strive towards. Right?

Maybe not necessarily new goals. Maybe you’ve just adjusted the goal posts for the goals you worked towards last year. I don’t participate in the New Year Resolution thing. I can appreciate the whole “new year, new beginnings” thing, but I don’t think you should postpone working on yourself or your life in the name of the new year.

The day you want to start working on something new is the best day to start.

And that’s why this post is coming almost three weeks into the new year and wasn’t published on January 1st.b

Last year, I kind slipped into giving myself a goal to accomplish (link to weight loss post), and I didn’t even get to set that goal until April. As the months wore on and I continued to make progress, I was like, “Shit! You REALLY can do anything you set your mind to.”

Probably shouldn’t have taken me 30 years to learn that since I’m supposedly a “smart person” (I’ve been told, you can draw your own conclusions), but here we are.

As a former digital marketing nerd, I very much like setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. If you’re setting goals that aren’t SMART, how are you ever going to be able to track your progress?

Maybe you’re thinking, “why the fuck do I need to track my progress?” And to that I’d say if you’re not tracking your progress, how will you know when you finish? By feeling? By smell?

Using the SMART method of goal setting, you’ll also be able to break your overall goal down into smaller bite-sized mini goals.

Example time.

One of my goals is to read more this year. It’s an admirable goal but it basically means nothing on its own. Read more than what? More than last year? How many more? I can’t measure “more”.

Here’s a SMART version of that goal: I will read 2 books per month this year.

To be perfectly honest, I think 2 books/month is kind of a reach, but it’s doable. Especially once I get into the habit of nightly reading, once again. I am already certain that I’ll barely get through one book in January (Fire & Fury, because I don’t consume enough political news already). However, it’s will be one more book than I finished the previous month. And it will be that much more motivating to complete 2 books in February.

How do I measure and track my progress?

I use a variety of digital and analog tools to stay focused and on track with my goals. If you don’t already have a Google account (there are people who don’t have Google accounts?), you should go sign up now.

Spreadsheets are my friend. They should be yours too. More specifically, Google Sheets that are auto-generated through my own custom Google forms should be your friend.

I don’t know about you, but I spend a fair amount of time on my phone, so I just saved shortcuts to all of my Google forms to my home screen.

One of my SMART goals for 2018 is to run a 10-minute mile by the end of the year. I set up a form, pictured below, that would let me input the incline, duration, average heart rate, max heart rate, average mph, top mph, distance, and calories burned (all the stats the treadmill gives me). I also included a field for “notes” so I could add what kind of running I did. You can also grab a copy of this form for your own use here.

Sometimes I do specific workouts on the treadmill with the help of Motiontraxx, sometimes I just run. I didn’t want to get stuck comparing the two. If I’m going heavy on inclines, my speed is going to be at least a half mile/hour slower than if I’m running on a flat plane. Which is also why I don’t pay for something like RunKeeper (although I do use the free version). It doesn’t give me the freedom to compare ONLY my 2:1 interval runs. I need the specificity, dammit.

The form is just convenient. The real magic happens in the resulting spreadsheet where I can really dig in, compare my runs, and track the progress.

For tracking my weight loss, I have another form to input my chest, waist, and hip measurements, and weight. And I made a pretty chart to show the inches lost.

[insert image of weight loss chart]

I may or may not track my reading digitally, however, I will make a note of it in my planner (a less structured version of a bullet journal using mini loose-leaf binder paper). My handwritten planner pages are also digitally archived in JPG form at the beginning of every month. Additionally, I have a goal set up in Google Calendar to read for at least 15 minutes a day, five days per week, which will allow me to track my progress there as well.

I like the idea of these goal pages for a planner for tracking habits and goals if you prefer a more analog approach.

What do you think?

Is this a load of shit? Maybe for some of you. A couple of years ago, I’d probably think the same. Yet, here I am.

Are you going to set any SMART goals this year? What are they?

IMPORTANT - DISCLOSURE

Some of the links posted above are an affiliate link and may result in my being compensated in some way (either through cash money or through a free product). All opinions are still my own. 

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