SMART goals are the key to establishing a new positive habit.
The problem when we try to create a positive habit is that, in most cases, we haven't defined what we want exactly and we don't have a plan to accomplish it.
To top it up, we are not persistent and we give up.
Luckily, there is a solution for it: making your goals be SMART.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Tangible.
There are other terms used for each of these letters (like T for Time-Bounded, or R for Relevant), but the purpose is nevertheless the same.
I will use the terms I stated above throughout these pages.
Let's have a good look at how SMART goals can help you, for once and all, to establish positive habits. I will use an example from my own life to explain SMART goals in action.
For a number of years I wished I exercised daily, more for health reasons than because I really liked it. I call it "wish" because I never got myself very far, whichever way I tried: I used to give up by the fifth day.
My best shot was once where I got to exercise one day, leave it for another three, come back to exercising with a feeling of guilt, and repeating the pattern for about two months to finally leaving it all in frustration seeing no results.
A SMART goal, instead, took me to a point where I now exercise daily, allowing for a day "off" a week for unforeseen circumstances and to rest.
SMART goals provide the strategy and plan you need to achieve a goal and create a positive habit.
This is how I transformed my wish of exercising daily into a steady positive habit using SMART goals:
The result of defining the habit of exercising through SMART goals went beyond my own expectations.
At the end of the 30-day period I was not only able to touch the tip of my toes with my legs straight; I could also hold between five and ten yoga postures with balance, and I felt healthier, fitter, and even prettier.
The fact that I created a time frame of 30 days to achieve my goals was also key since I wanted to make exercising a positive habit.
At the end of the 30 days I found myself not only exercising daily, but wanting to keep on doing it. I was more than satisfied realizing that my positive habit was established.
SMART goals should allow for a day off per week regardless the length of time you choose to work on your goal.
There will be unforeseen circumstances that will stop you from working towards your goal on a certain day, like having to stay late at work and thus missing your hour of meditation, for instance.
At other times, you will be simply human and you will be tired.
The day off per week accommodates all the above. Now, one thing is to take a day off from your goal and another thing is to let it become two, three and four days in a row - so watch out!
I have seen in other descriptions of SMART goals that the A stands for Accounting. Although accounting is not essential, it is a brilliant helper to be consistent and follow through.
One type of accounting consists in accounting to yourself, by writing down daily what you have done towards your goal.
This simply type of accounting is essential: it helps you see trends, identify your own successes and your improvements, and acknowledge your progress in a realistic way.
Another type of accounting that I have found very successful is accounting to a group of pals that are supportive and contribute to achieving goals.
At the time of writing this group of seven people from all over the world is still live; we gather online and we share our respective goals and account for what we have done daily, giving advice, tips and support to each other.
This type of accounting is not only extremely powerful, but it also develops friendships.
Another big key to SMART goals is keeping motivated. How do you do that?
Focus on the benefits of achieving your goal: you will be fitter, slimmer, healthier, more organized.
You will feel happier with yourself and the way you carry your life. You could use visualization or positive affirmations to keep yourself motivated.
You could imagine how it would be to hear, see and feel yourself after you've accomplished your goal. You could keep invoking the good feelings you want to experience after having achieved your goal.
An important factor for creating a positive habit and an ingredient to SMART goals is having persistence and discipline: this is, committing yourself to do the thing you said you would do when you said you would do it, and doing it repeatedly and regularly.
My exercising goal looked overwhelming, but once I chunked it down to doing 15 minutes of exercise during 20 days it was far more manageable.
I could surely do just 15 minutes of exercise a day: even a break at the office would create the space and time for it.
Do whatever it is you've chosen daily. Stick to it! Your persistence, my friend, will bring great rewards.
Most of us recognize that we could improve in certain areas of our lives: if we could only be more organized, more tidy, more appreciative, loose weight, or stop smoking, we would be feeling one step better.
Give the SMART way of setting goals a go and couple it with a 30 day plan to start creating a positive habit today. Reinvent yourself!
"A good goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot."