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How smart goal setting can help you level up in life and in business

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It is 2017 and 2016 only feels like yesterday right? Isn’t it crazy how time flies? 

The start of each New Year is a time when we all vow to cut a lot of bad habits out of our lives and start fresh with a load of great new ones. This vow is usually channeled into a goal setting list of some sort. It did for me in 2016 but things didn’t really turn out as I anticipated.

The problem I had in 2016 was that I had too many un-scoped or, as I now realize, un-SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are those which are Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-bound. More on what that actually means in a minute.

The problem I had in 2016 (that many of us also have) was that I failed to set goals in this manner and when things came up, the loose goals I did set fell down. This meant that most of my goals were not accomplished this past year. 

I had 3 main goals for 2016:  Become fluent in Spanish (very ambitious!), launch a new clothing line and create my own blogging platform.

I didn’t exactly accomplish what I set out to do in 2016, but I learned a lot and realized that I hadn’t set my goals properly.

To illustrate the power of SMART goal setting and how it could have helped me this past year, I am going to break down each of the 3 goals I set in 2016 and how I progressed towards accomplishing each. Then I will show how setting these goals according to the SMART system would have helped me… a lot.

Let these smart goal examples inspire you to get serious about your goals in 2017!

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My goal to become fluent in Spanish.

In school (many years ago) I studied French and hated it, but going through college and university I always had an interest in learning another language but didn’t know which to pursue. Fast-forward to 2012 where, after graduating from university, my friends and I decided to go to Miami. Aside from the partying, hot weather and all the other the great things in Miami, there was one thing that stuck in my head.

That one thing was my experience going into a Reggaeton club one night and enjoying the vibe but not having a clue what was being said. I was so intrigued and vowed that once I came back from the week holiday that I would fully immerse myself in Spanish (that didn’t happen).   

Shockingly, it took me another 4 years to properly act on this goal and I started with finding a personal tutor. I had weekly lessons every Friday for around 6 months in 2016 and I supplemented this with daily Duolingo tests and YouTube videos. My Spanish was improving, but I wasn’t really practicing it with anyone except my teacher and family. Then my tutor went traveling for around a month in April and I just completely fell off studying once other life responsibilities kicked in.

Lesson learned: expect the unexpected and plan for it

How SMART goal setting would have helped me master Spanish. Here’s how I should have set my goal:

  • Specific: I will be able to understand conversational Spanish.
  • Measurable: I will be able to converse with anyone on basic topics in Spanish.
  • Attainable: I will get set up with a tutor first. I will supplement with Duolingo courses and tests to track my ability.
  • Relevant: Learning Spanish will fulfill a long time goal of mine.
  • Time-Based: I will be able to pass a Duolingo fluency test after one year.

My goal to start new a clothing line.

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It was around the second year of college (2009 ish) when I became interested in the idea of making a living out of selling clothes. The problem with this was I couldn’t, and still, can’t draw to save my life! Ha. How did I get around this? I have talented family members!.

My first clothing line was to be called “Creative Clothing” and I had my nephew illustrate some of my initial designs. I even sold a few on commissioned-based sites during university once it picked up a little in 2011. I learned a lot.

The good? My site would handled posting, packaging and printing and cost me zero to setup or maintain. Logo design costs were also zero!

The bad? My nephew decided he didn’t want to design anymore. I hated my chosen brand name. I tried to market to every audience. I had no control of what the hosting site did (increasing t-shirt prices, shutting down the site for maintenance etc). The commissions I made from a sale were peanuts.

2015- 2016 was a new avenue for me and my clothing line brand and an opportunity to make it big. 

After trucking along with this for a few years, I realized that I needed to start afresh with a street wear brand as this was more what I was into and was really passionate about. I spent 2015 researching what other comparable brands were doing and coming up with a name. From January-March of 2016, I started taking real action and focused on logo creation, wrapping up my domain name and trademarking my name. All sounds great, right? Not exactly. I began to get consumed with the details of the business plan. 

The business plan I still have for this line is around 30 pages and most of it is unnecessary rambling. I didn’t really need investment as I had the capital to start even a small range up. The problem I had with this goal was that the more time I spent on the business plan, the more it seemed to water down my passion. I consistency found that I didn’t know something or didn’t have xyz so began to get unmotivated to press on.   

I still have the brand trademarked and a few designs on my laptop that nobody has seen, so who knows?

Lesson learned: don’t over engineer it, just do it!

How SMART goal setting would have helped me successfully launch by clothing line. Here’s how I should have set my goal:

  • Specific: I will sell my creative clothing line through my own online domain.
  • Measurable: I will be ready to take my first order within 2 months, and I will aim to sell a minimum of five items per week.
  • Attainable: I will get set up on my own domain first. (with logo, branding, etc.) Then, I will build an inventory of 50 products to sell. Finally, I will promote my business and build customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals and local networking.
  • Relevant: Selling my own clothing line will allow me to benefit financially from my creativity and passion.
  • Time-Based: My online clothing store will be up and running within 1 month, and I will have an inventory of 50 clothing pieces to sell within the the next month.

My goal to launch my blogging platform.

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Last but not least was my platform InspirEnrich. This was probably the most organic of my three goals as it wasn’t really my intention to create this… it just came naturally. The full background of why I set this platform up I’ve covered on my site already which you can read here 

Simply put, it started in 2015 when I went to Boston to check in on my bro Haji for 10 days and ended up to traveling through several states including New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. While on this trip, I discovered that he really enjoyed and found a lot of value in reading motivational content.

After discovering this, I myself began to read similar content and I took this habit back with me to the UK. From November 2015 onward, I became obsessed with watching/reading motivational content and sending out summaries to people on Whatsapp.

My brother advised me to put it on a blog, which I did!

In 2017 my core goal is to get my platform in the best state possible. I am currently in the process of revamping it with a new logo and a new site layout in the works. Outside of revamping, I want to widen my network of people in this field by attending meet ups and platforms like Circular which is connecting creative individuals left right and center at the moment.

Lesson learned: Your network is your net worth get social! (Still learning!)

How SMART goal setting would have helped me grow my blog even more. Here’s how I should have set my goal:

  • Specific: I will blog about motivational content on my own blog.
  • Measurable: I will blog minimum once a week and get at least 10,000 people to visit my site within the first 30 days.
  • Attainable: I will get set up on my own domain first. (with logo, branding, etc.) Then, I will create a backlog of at least 5 blog articles. Finally, I will create social handles for my blog before going live.
  • Relevant: Blogging about motivational content will be rewarding and teach me alonside my own reading of similar content.
  • Time-Based: My blog will be up and running within 1 month.

My simple for setting SMART goals in 2017.

  1. Write all your goals down on wherever you feel like – get them out your head! 
  2. Make them real by setting measurements of progress.
  3. Number them based which you feel are most important and be adopt the MoSCoW project method (Must do, Should Do, Could do, Won’t do this year)
  4. If you are struggling with point three watch this and really take some time to think which category is the most important

Keep in mind that goal setting is personal and everyone respond to this process differently.

Try a smart goal setting worksheet if you are struggling.

Here is a great worksheet you can use to kick start your goal setting.

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No fluff or "pie in the sky inspiration." Just real stories.

Written by Courtney Duncan

Courtney Duncan is a Technical Analyst and the founder of the inspirEnrich. This is a platform which focuses on inspiring writers to follow their passions and enrich others at the same time through knowledge sharing.  Find his instagram twitter and website 

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