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How to Manage and Achieve Goals: Think S.M.A.R.T

Everyone has ideas. You may want to start an organization to help a group of people, an initiative to promote a cause, or even develop a project on your own. Whatever your goal may be, you should always think S.M.A.R.T. to make a plan and achieve that goal. By S.M.A.R.T., I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Specific

The first step to implementing an idea is to target a specific area for improvement. Think about this question: “what is my goal?” The more specific the goal, the easier it will be to achieve.

Certain questions you may ask yourself while planning out your goals are:
What do I want to achieve?
Who is my audience?
How will I be able to achieve this goal?
What steps do I need to complete my goal?
When will I have a first/final draft?
Where is my target audience?
Are there certain conditions I need to meet or limitations that I have to look out for?

Measurable

The next step is to determine if your goal is measurable. Try to break down your goal into smaller elements or tasks. Identify which parts need more focus to progress the goal further. Defining each aspect of the goal can go a long way in meeting your objective. If applicable, you should set a specific number that you want to achieve for your goal. For example, you could decide "I want to complete at least 3 mini-tasks per day" or "I want to complete 40 flash cards this week." Measurable goals are more concise and easier to reach.

Attainable

Then, you have to evaluate whether it is possible to achieve your goal. In this stage, you have to weigh your options. Keep in mind:

Are there things I need to sacrifice to achieve my goal?
How much effort will be needed to complete my goal?
How much will it cost?
Most importantly: who should I ask for help if I am stuck?

If you can’t manage your time, money, or abilities to reach your goal, then you will most likely fail. But, if you trust your gut and want to take the challenge of tackling a seemingly impossible task, go ahead. There’s nothing wrong in trying.

Relevant

The next step is deciding whether the idea you have in mind is relevant. You may have an idea that sounds amazing, but it may not actually directly benefit you or your community. In other words, you want to make sure that your goal is worth the effort and resources you're going to have to put in to achieve it. You may wish to ask yourself how you can achieve your goal while making the best, most efficient use of your resources. The main questions to consider are:

Why do I want to achieve this goal?
What makes this goal important to me?
What will my goal achieve?

Moreover, answering these questions will give you more motivation to complete your task and make you more likely to succeed.

Time-Bound

Lastly, you have to think, “can I implement my plan in this amount of time?” Making deadlines is an easy and efficient way to stay on task. If you have a team, setting up time-sensitive goals allows you to better organize the tasks for each team member. Keep in mind that you need to manage your time effectively. You should decide when you're going to work and work hard during those times, but you should also plan to take a break here-and-there to get those creative juices flowing.

Following these criteria will give you the guidance necessary to achieve your goal. So, get out there and get to work!