How To Use SMART GoalS: More Dynamic Than You Thought

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Just to clarify, SMART goals do not mean your current goals are dumb! SMART is an acronym for a method to help you reach whatever changes you want to implement in your life. What does each letter stand for? 

Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Timely.

Posted: April 6th, 2021

Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, all information and reflections are meant for educational purposes only. If you plan to make changes in your life, it may be worth consulting with loved ones and/or your wellness team. Also, this post may contain affiliate links that will connect you with some pretty cool products and when making a purchase through those links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Intro

There is some diversity to the settings one can use SMART goals. Before looking further into this method, I only considered the individualized benefits and the effects they had on me directly. Well, to say I was pleasantly surprised to find out more, is an understatement. Check out how you can start using SMART goals in other ways!

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    SMART Goals For:

    Counselling Goals

    Let’s start off with in the setting I will be recommending them most.

    Ultimately the definition would be, a shared formulation of goals with the relevance being in a therapeutic context. When starting any type of wellness relationship, such as counselling, coaching, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, etc. we need to know the direction in which you desire to go.

    The statement “I want to feel better” is wonderful (we want you to feel better too!), but what are some things we can work on to get you there?

    Consider this, you are paying your hard-earned money for my services, so I do not want to waste any of your time. Also, this is a way we can check if we are progressing throughout our time together.

    We can add other SMART goals along the way or, if you feel the initial goal is not as relevant as you thought, we can fine tune things to suit your needs!

    Unless we have a specific direction though, we will struggle to make mental health improvements.

    Example: By the end of 12 sessions, I will ask a person on a date. I would like to be in a relationship, but have been too afraid of rejection. My counsellor and I will determine the right resources to improve my self-esteem and reduce my anxiety.

    Relationship Goals

    I had a friend tell me how much she loves making yearly SMART goals with her fiancé and shared a worksheet they do together. This got me thinking about all of the different ways couples could start connecting and planning as a unit.

    Of course, having individual goals is great, but what are the two of you doing to help make your relationship flourish?

    Sometimes we only have a general idea of what our partner is hoping for and lean on assumptions rather than finding out. It is amazing what you can learn from one another if you share your goals and look for ways to collectively help in achieving them.

    What are each-others love languages and is there a way to attend to those more? Is there something you could look forward to together like a trip or a finished renovation? Could you create a debt repayment plan together to decrease stress?

    Although this may bring up some underlying conflict, it would have popped up at another time, so consider this the opportunity to work on it sooner than later.

    Also, know that this can be a really fun exercise, just like how my friend looks at it!

    Example: By the end of March, we will have our bedroom redesigned to suite both of our styles because ever since I moved into his home, I have still felt like guest. Although our budget is tight, we won’t go out for dinner more than once a month to pay for the costs.

    Management

    Are you in a position of authority in your workplace and noticing that changes need to be made, whether financially or dynamically?

    There is a lot of pressure on bosses and managers to ensure that the work environment promotes productivity and money. It is important to look at the overall wellbeing of the business and the employees because this is where you can pinpoint beneficial goals.

    I think we can all agree that we do not want our place of work to be unsuccessful and some of the greatest businesses are those run by leaders who look at the planning holistically.

    Whether you are trying to meet new profit margins, build clientele or boost morale, SMART goal development is key. Business goals help propel us forward!

    Example: Create a free monthly wellness program for employees to voluntarily attend starting in January of the new year. After a particularly hard year with COVID-19, the need for connection and improved morale will help us get back on track with productivity and customer service. I have six months to set aside money for the program and have many connections in the wellness industry.

    Team Goals

    Sharing goals as a team helps keep us accountable. This can be through work, school or in the family unit.

    Being able to distribute each member’s knowledge and skills within makes the load more manageable. This is also helpful in understanding what everyone in the situation is hoping to achieve collectively.

    When a team agrees on a plan, it becomes extremely powerful and connects everyone though a common goal. I saw a recommendation of creating a colorful display for everyone involved to see and place updates on how they have contributed. This also makes the moment of any goal achievement celebratory because many people feel proud together.

    Example: We will have raised $10,000 to donate to a charity that supports those who can’t afford counselling by December. Mental wellness has become a priority on campus and want to share it with those who do not have financial access to care. Many great fundraising ideas have been brought forward and with the amount of people involved, we can make this possibility a reality.

    Individual Goals

    Personal goals are when someone is creating a focus on their own needs outside of benefiting others or for therapy. The list is endless! Just follow the S the M the A the R and the T, to get started!

    Insight

    It is possible to make reasonable changes to our lives in a manner that is organized and time sensitive. Being able to apply SMART goals in multiple areas of our lives, helps to stay on track and accomplish what you’ve set your mind to.

    References

    How to Create Smart Goals Using a Tree Diagram. (2014). Journal of Staff Development35(6), 54–57. 

    Kennerley, H., Kirk, J., & Westbrook, D. (2017). An introduction to cognitive behaviour therapy – Skills and applications (3rd ed.). London, England: Sage Publications.

    Parsons, L. (2019). SMART Goals or Mindfulness? How Happiness Leads to Success. Teachers Matter43, 54–57.

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