Set ‘S-M-A-R-T-E-R’ goals

When I was in college, we learned about setting goals and were taught the acronym ‘SMART’ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based). In fact, even today, we still teach that concept. Well, I’m creating a new acronym that should be used instead that I am now teaching my students: ‘SMARTER‘ (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based, Economical, and Rewarding). Since goals are directly linked to your habits and, more often than not, requires changing your current habits in order to achieve your goal, you need to add ‘economical’ and ‘rewarding’ to the current mix.









–Professor Phil Jones


Your goal must be ‘economical’ (meaning, are you willing to pay the price in order to achieve it?)  Setting a goal means that you WILL be sacrificing something in order to achieve it. Spending less time with family and friends? Spending money for products, services or memberships necessary to achieve the goal? Time commitment? Not doing other leisure activities?

Your daily habits dictate how you spend your time from the moment you wake up in the morning until the time you go to sleep at the end of your day.  If you have set a goal, then you will most likely need to alter those daily habits in order to achieve your goal. According to the research done by MIT’s neuroscience guru, Ann Graybiel, if you want to successfully change those habits, there MUST be a reward at the end. Giving yourself a reward once you have achieved the goal is a huge motivator and must be part of the equation; it will keep your eye on the prize at the end of the journey (a book that I highly recommend that expands on Graybiel’s research is ‘The Power of Habit’ by Charles Duhigg).

If more people thought about the sacrifices they will be making before they start their goal and also think about the reward they’ll get once completed, it will result in more people achieving their goals. Bottom line, if you aren’t willing to ‘pay the price’ and give yourself a reward at the end, you won’t achieve any of the goals you set. Don’t just be smart when setting your goals, be smarter!

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