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Every successful leader has goals. It is great to have a dream or end picture goal you are working towards, but what will really propel you forward is having a series of SMART goals to take you from one height to the next. Here are steps to creating SMART goals to get you started.

S- Specific

Your goals should be well fleshed out making it clear when you have achieved it. It should include a who, what, when, where and why. Instead of saying “My goal is to get fitter” you should say something more like “My goal is to join a gym and attend a class three times a week”.

M- Measurable

Take the time to establish criteria for measuring your progress. You should set out some milestone and it should be clear when you have achieved your goal. This should be accompanied by dates you would like to hit each milestone to keep you on track which will give you that extra boost towards the next milestone.

A- Attainable

Goals should be challenging, but setting goals that are too hard can be discouraging. We get a huge boost of confidence and motivation from being able to tick off accomplishments, so if your heart is set on a particularly difficult goal, set lots of smaller goals to achieve along the way.

R- Realistic

Only set a goal for yourself if you are both willing AND able to work towards it. A goal can be both high and realistic, infact sometimes higher goals will be easier to achieve because they will elicit more motivational force. If a goal is particularly high and/or far into the future, set yourself some smaller goals along the way that are necessary steps to achieving the high goal.

T- Time Bound

Goals should be set within timeframes and deadlines. Without setting yourself a timeline, there is no sense of urgency and therefore less motivation. This step will subconsciously help you to priortise the goal and work harder towards making sure you achieve it.

Other tips for goal setting

Write it down: Make a written commitment to your goal.

Tell a friend: Tell someone to make it official and get their support.

Break it down: Define smaller, achievable steps within your goal and set timelines for them.

Here's an example of a SMART goal

Five-year goal: “Become an editor.”

One-year goal: “Get an internship with a magazine.”

Six-month goal: “Volunteer as an editor for one of Arc’s publications.”

One-month goal: “Get published in an Arc publication.”

One-week goal: “Email Arc about becoming a contributor in a publication.”

SMARTen up your goal-setting