We are all trying to achieve greatness and push our personal limits in all fields of life. We always strive to be the best we can in school, work, family life, spirituality, sports and many other aspects of life. Yet in order to be the best in all these phases of life, it is imperative to set goals along the way. This is the practice of the top performers in any field and is the best way to spend our time in order to reach our destination. The great basketball player Larry Bird has said, "A winner is someone who recognizes his God- given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals."
A well-known acronym regarding setting goals is SMART; our goals should be SMART goals. It is usually overlooked however it is essential to ensure that our goals are continually met. "S" stands for specific, in that a goal should have as narrow a focus as possible. A specific goal should be well defined and be able to be understood by anyone with basic knowledge. It is easy to see how having a specific goal in mind can improve success. Someone who sets a general goal to lose weight will have a much tougher road than one who makes a goal to lose 10 pounds in 3 months. Having a specific goal is a great psychological boost as you can clearly track your progress toward the goal. "M" stands for measurable, in that it should be easy to track a goal and see how far or close you are from it. Knowing exactly when you achieve a goal will make you want to achieve more and more.
The "A" stands for achievable. A goal should be realistic and not too far-fetched. Losing weight is another good example of this. Trying to lose 40 pounds on one week is not exactly considered achievable while trying to lose 10 pounds in three months is a much more achievable goal. The downside of setting such unrealistic goals is that they can seem daunting and not achieving them can cause one's self confidence to take a hit.
"R" stands for realistic. This is an important an obvious requirement for an effective goal. If someone has not done any running in years, it is not realistic to have a goal to run a marathon in a year. This will most likely result in disappointment and even discourage you from setting more goals. A more realistic goal would be to run a mile in 2 months, for example.
Finally, the "T" stands for time-framed. This is one of the more important aspects of having a SMART goal because not having a deadline can make one lazy in achieving a goal, which could lead it to never being met. Someone can have a goal to start taking undergraduate classes in order to get into medical school, but without a time frame this can potentially last forever. Life events can tend to get in the way of certain goals, so having a time frame is helpful because it can simply be adjusted. Not having a time frame could lead to the goal being completely abandoned.
It is also important to realize that not all goals are going to be met. We should be able to take the losses along with the victories, as this is the best way for a person to grow. However, setting SMART goals will greatly increase the chance of success. As always, it is important to remember to set goals to improve ourselves for the sake of Allah, leaving the rest up to Him, for surely "Allah is the best of Planners." (3:54)