How SMART are your goals?

I saw a quote recently that said, “If your plan isn’t working, change the plan. Not the goal.”

Although there is certainly some truth to that statement, I don’t entirely agree. Sometimes, it is necessary to change the goal. The last few years of pandemic life have given people plenty of opportunity to reflect on what’s important – and what’s expendable. Perhaps some of your previous goals no longer fit your post-pandemic life. 

As we approach the halfway point of 2022, it’s a great time to take a moment to reevaluate your goals, both personal and professional. You may need to update your goals or pivot in a new direction to reach them. 

First, review your goals and make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. For example, “read more” – although a worthy goal – is a bit too vague. Turn it into a SMART goal: “I will read one personal development book every month this year.” 

This is actually one of my friend’s goals every year. She usually meets her goal; however, she recently received a major promotion which significantly increased her workload. After staring at a screen all day, she was simply too exhausted to read any more. She was falling behind on her reading list and beating herself up for it. I reminded her that goals can be flexible, and it’s OK to pivot if needed. She switched to listening to books on tape and podcasts. So, the end result was the same – personal growth; but the method of delivery was different. 

It’s also important to make sure your goals work with your innate personality traits, not against them. For example, I’m a night owl – always have been, probably always will be. Setting ambitious early morning workout goals typically result in: 1) me not working out in the morning and 2) feeling bad about it later. However, when I accept that my body just doesn’t function that early (especially before coffee!), I can shift my routine to a time that more closely aligns with my internal body clock and workout in the evening instead. The end result is the same – regular exercise, just later than originally intended. 

Sometimes, external factors make it necessary to modify our goals. Unfortunately for my coworkers who have been saving for a down payment to buy a home this year, their goal of homeownership is delayed due to the unpleasant combination of limited inventory and rising interest rates. With inflation making it more difficult to save, they have decided to shift their goal’s timeline by a year and focus on their side hustles to earn more while waiting for the economy to improve. And there’s no shame in that. 

Remember: If the goal no longer serves your best interests, it’s OK to course-correct. Trust your gut, listen to your intuition, and explore why you feel the way you do. What’s causing the incongruence between setting your goals and actually achieving them?

Instead of continuing to pursue a goal that may no longer make sense, give yourself some grace and a break if you need it. It’s better than burning out. When you take the time to reevaluate your goals, you can focus on setting new, SMARTer ones that are more closely aligned with your strengths, which means you’re more likely to achieve them. 

photo by: Issac Smith