Even if you are not involved in life coaching or therapeutic work, those working in business settings may already be familiar with the concept of SMART Goals ie setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-boundaried.

Over the years that I have worked with this technique, there are times when it hasn’t really worked for me for one reason or another.  And there have been times when working with students where it all seems to fray at the edges a little.

By that I mean, either that the goal is abandoned and not picked up on or reviewed, leading to a sense of failure and disappointment, or the goal itself is somehow “not quite right”.

Now, the “not quite right” category that results in a lot of struggles for those starting to work with the technique often revolves around the fact that the overall goal is so long term that it’s way out of reach and the focus needs to be brought much closer both in terms of time or attainability.

Or the goal ultimately is not something actually within the control of that individual.

I would assess that latter category as including goals such as:

I want to be in a relationship next year.
I want my partner to change .....
I want my employer to acknowledge my work and provide promotion.....

Anything that actually depends on the behaviour of another person is not something totally within your own control, and any goal set in that context is simply bound to fail.

Or perhaps you have set a goal of wanting to feel happier, more contented etc

Anything that includes a general concept of feeling happier, appreciated, content etc is also not something totally within your control if that happiness, appreciation etc depends on the response of others.

So, back to the beginning.

The goal needs to be specific.  Feeling happy is going to come from.....what?  That needs exploring and some definite and achievable goal needs to be identified for any possibility of achievement.  The goal needs anchoring in something concrete.

The goal needs to be realistic and achievable.  I cannot directly control the behaviour or response of another person.  I can only work on addressing something for myself.  That obviously may impact on how I relate to others and how they relate to me, but ultimately I cannot set a goal that requires the specific actions of someone other than myself.

So – that for me is the SMARTer element here.  The focus.  The element of control.  Being realistic.  Something within my ability to achieve.

Working SMARTer means the goal is much less likely to be abandoned.  And it means that the goal is much more likely to be “right” and appropriate in terms of being realistic, achievable and measurable.

Now I’ve reached the end of this Blog and have re-read it, I’m not sure how clearly I have explained all that.

Perhaps I should set myself a SMARTer goal of being more concise!!