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S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting

Most Self-Help books offer the S.M.A.R.T. Goal setting formula, because it is simple and effective. It covers the five main criterion to consider when setting a goal. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Let’s take a look at each of these criterion in details:

Specific – This means that your goal shouldn’t be something vague. You should know exactly what you want to work towards. “I want to be an author” is a vague goal, but “I want to write a book about self-confidence from an Islamic perspective” is a very specific goal. The second is much easier to work towards, the key here is to be as detailed as possible.

Measurable – This means that your goal should be something you can keep track off to measure how close you are to completing your goal. Goals are generally long term projects and without any form of measurement, it is difficult to know whether you are closer to accomplishing it or not.

An example of a measurable goal is setting a goal to write 100 pages a month by writing three and half pages a day. This way you know daily whether you are making progress towards that goal or not.

Attainable – This means your goal should be something you can work towards and attain. If your goal is to build a multi-million dollar Islamic Centre and you don’t have the resources to do so, then this is not an attainable goal and should either be left for later in life or tweaked to become more attainable.

Realistic – This means your goal must be something you have the ability to do and something you are willing to do. If you hate writing, then making it a goal to write a 500 page book is not realistic, even though it is attainable. Being realistic means knowing what you are good at, what you are willing to sacrifice for, and making your goals in line with that.

Timely – Finally, a goal must have a time limit. As long as you leave something without any time limit, you will not feel the urgency to work on it. Saying that “Someday I want to write a 300 page book” is not going to help you write it. Setting a goal to write the book within three months by writing four pages a day is a timely goal, and creates the sense of urgency needed to get things done.

These five qualities help us make our goals achievable by creating the kind of description, pattern and system necessary to make sure we get it done. When setting your goals, weigh each goal in light of all five criterion to fine-tune it until you have a concrete plan to work with.

The benefits of setting goals in this manner are many. By setting specific goals, you know exactly what you want to accomplish without any ambiguity. By setting measurable goals, you are able to keep track of your progress and how close you are to attaining your goal.

By setting attainable goals, you are focusing on is possible right now and working on those goals first. By setting realistic goals, you are focusing on your strengths and gifts, leading to an increased chance of meeting that goal. Finally, by setting a deadline or time limit, you are forcing yourself to make time for that goal and complete it within the given amount of time.

So this is what a S.M.A.R.T. goal is. Go ahead and try redefining your current goals using these criterion, and let me know if it made a difference.

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