I am a very goal-oriented person. Without a goal, I feel like I’m flailing in the wind a bit with no purpose. Goals help ground me and help me focused and working toward a mission. In every corporate job I’ve had, November and December are always busy times as this is when companies begin planning out their financial and growth goals for the new year, so I thought now would be the perfect time to talk about goals on here! But what is a stretch goal or a SMART goal?
First: What is a stretch goal?
Stretch goals are so important to personal and professional growth. They are literally goals that stretch you outside of your comfort zone and push you to achieve more (more than what you may think you can accomplish!). They help us to think and dream big. Since the goal is so much bigger than what you think you can do, they help inspire new commitment, drive, and effort.
An example of a stretch goal, is if someone is just starting to workout and they set out to make their stretch goal of running a marathon next year. It might seem completely impossible! But, with the right steps in place, running a marathon in a year is completely trainable and it is something anyone can accomplish. Stretch goals especially feel attainable when you have achieved some “smaller” success. Like perhaps, you ran your first mile on the treadmill for the first time. It’s that extra boost of energy and confidence you get from it that make you feel you can achieve more!
You’ve identified your stretch goal – now what?
Once you have identified what your stretch goal is (think about goals both professionally and personally!), now how do you achieve them? It’s great to think and dream big but now the real work has to happen. And this is where SMART goals come in which is a system so that your goals have a concrete plan around them –
What is a SMART goal?
SMART stands for:
Specific: Be as specific as possible with your goal. In the example above with running a marathon, a marathon is specific. “Run more” as a goal is not.
Measurable: Be able to quantify your progress. Running to and from the gym that is 2 miles away is measurable and can help you identify how close you are to your specific goal. Give yourself some type of measurement that is trackable over time. If you’re consistent you’ll be able to see the growth happen!
Achievable: Ask yourself if your goal is truly something that can be done if you give yourself a plan. Using the marathon example, this goal may be achievable if you run outside a few times a week. It is not achievable if you don’t practice running.
Realistic: This is a question where you have to ask yourself if it’s a realistic goal. To make running a marathon realistic, you have to commit to waking up early before work or putting in the time on a week night to practice jogging outside. A goal is not realistic if you choose to sleep in, and don’t try jogging a block outdoors.
Timeline: Choose a specific start and end date. A start date may be TODAY and the end date will be the day of the marathon itself.
You have to pair any goal you have with this methodology in order to fully reach and meet them! This was a simplistic view of a stretch and SMART goal but I hope this gives you an idea of how to start thinking about your goals!