The ULTIMATE productivity hack | Making SMART goals

When I was busy applying for graduate roles, I was advised by pretty much every single person I knew to make my interview answers SMART. That’s not to say that I needed to sound smarter (though it probably wouldn’t have hurt, especially when I was broke and unemployed) but to instead follow the rules of an acronym. You may have heard of a few variations of this word, but I’ve learned that my answers should be:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Action

R – Result

T – Time

Making my answers SMART ensured that the interviewer heard exactly what they needed to hear. Because of this method, I very rarely got rejected at the interview stage (when it wasn’t a dreadful video interview) this happened further down the line, such as at the assessment centre or – more often – much earlier in the process, way before the interview stages.

But how can you apply SMART thinking to your goals? And why would you want to, anyway?

S – Specific

Goals need to be specific. If you want to accomplish anything, tell me exactly what you want. Do you want a six-pack this year? Or do you want to publish a book? Tell me exactly what you want to do. Simply saying, ‘I’d like to write more’ isn’t going to get your novel out.

M – Measurable

What is the actual, measurable, thing that you’re doing? If your specific goal is to get bigger biceps, measure you work towards them by tracking the amount of weight that you’re lifting. I put mine in a Google Sheets spreadsheet.

A – Action

What is the actual thing that you’re going to do to achieve your goals? If you want those big biceps, break that goal down: ‘in week 1, I will lift 10kg per arm, for 3 reps and 3 sets. In week two, I will lift 11kg per arm, for 3 reps and 3 sets. In week 3’…you get the idea.

Write these actions down. Seeing them on a page is a great motivator.

R – Result

This one’s really simple. What is going to happen? What will be the results of your actions? If your specific goal is to publish a book, and you measure this by saying that you will need to write a chapter a week, your action could be to write 500 words a day (just like mine is).

Finally, what is the result of your actions? Track what you’ve been up to every day. Log your work to demonstrate the fruits of your labour. Start a blog and publish snippets every day. Get an accountability partner, say a friend who can read through your work at the end of every week, or a gym buddy to keep you motivated.

Just be careful that you don’t rely too much on motivation, since I’ve already proved that it’s a myth.

T – Time

When are you going to have your goal ticked off by? Be specific about this, too. ‘I will lift X amount of weights at 4pm every weekday after work’. Pop that in your calendar. It’s so much easier to get going if your phone, which you’re probably reading this on anyway, is screaming at you to start moving.

That’s my secret to making your goals SMART and more easily attainable. What’s yours?

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