SMARTER Goal Setting + Tracking

goals fitness skincare networking coffee shop
goals fitness skincare networking coffee shop
Weekly goal setting checklist sticky note pads at lunch at Java Surf in the Vibe District in Virginia Beach, VA. Photo © Jillian Regan 2017

One of the most valuable things I have learned while goal setting is the importance of breaking down larger, long term goals into smaller goals, such as specific goals for the week.

I found that when I don’t break down my big, long term goals into smaller ones,  I just get too overwhelmed, thinking about the long term goal and how far away from it I am. For instance, when thinking of my long term fitness goals of where I want to be and how much I want to be able to do, such as my goal weight and wanting to be in good enough shape to easily run a 5k, it’s much easier to set small, incremental goals to work towards, so I don’t get so overwhelmed by the difference between where I am now and where I want to be.

These weekly goals can then be broken down into daily goals. Breaking down goals helps to make achieving the goal feel more manageable and less overwhelming. Having a way to remind myself of the weekly and daily goals as well as track them is also important for keeping myself on task and working towards my goals. When the week or the day gets busy and hectic, having a way for reminding myself and tracking my progress towards my goals is essential, otherwise I will forget about them or just not get around to them because I’m busy with other stuff.

Equally as important as having a system of tracking your goals is having a way of tracking that works for you, your lifestyle, and for that type of goal you are working on. Some may find that paper based methods, such as using a paper planner designed for tracking your runs for someone who is a runner working on their running goals, might work best for them. Others may find that electronic methods, such as an Excel spreadsheet for tracking goals specific to a project you’re working on at work, works better for them. Or some, like me, may prefer a combination of paper based and electronic methods for working towards my weekly and daily goals.

The methods I use for reminding myself of and tracking my progress towards my goals depends on the type of goal, as well as the week or the day. I use a combination of a calendar app on my phone & computer, paper planner, paper calendar, paper notebooks, Excel spreadsheets, Google doc spreadsheets, Google docs, fitness tracking device and app that goes with the device, and these awesome sticky note weekly goal setting checklists.

fitness self improvement progress fit improving goals
Screenshot of the page to download the free weekly goal setting checklists. Link is below.

You can download a free copy of these weekly goal setting checklists to print and use here or if you want them printed on sticky notes or on a dry erase board, you can buy them here.

Finding a way that works for you can take some time. I am always revising and trying new ways to improve my goal setting and tracking methods.

Along with revising and evaluating methods for goal setting and tracking, I have found it is also important to periodically evaluate and revise your goals themselves.

While I had been applying the acronym “SMART” to setting goals, it was not until this past year that I came across another version of this acronym “SMARTER”. While including the “S” for “specific”, the “M” for “measurable and/or meaningful”, the “A” for “attainable or achievable”, the “R” for “realistic and/or relevant” and the “T” for “Timely or Time-bound”, the acronym “SMARTER” includes two additional letters: “E” for evaluate and another “R” at the end of the acronym for “readjust or revise”.

For example several months ago I did a Facebook live video on weekly goal setting and set a weekly goal for myself of getting 7-8 hours of sleep. The goal tracking method I used was one writing down my goal on one of the weekly goal setting checklists that I mentioned above, posting the sticky note on my bathroom mirror and then putting a check mark under each day of the week that I met that goal. I found that this method did not work so well for me for tracking that specific goal because I was often in a rush to get ready in the morning and would forget to think about what time I went to bed, what time I got up, and figure out if I had gotten 7-8 hours of sleep that night or not.

A few months, I got a new fitness tracker, a Fitbit Alta HR, as a gift, and found that using this fitness tracker was the best way for me to track sleep. Not only does it track the time I spend sleeping, more accurately than I could since I don’t always remember the exact time I go to bed, it also tracks how deep of sleep I’m in and if I wake up and toss and turn while sleeping. It compiles all this in a nice, little, easy-to-read interactive data visualization that shows up in the Fitbit app on my phone and computers–as a data + data viz nerd I love this feature! I can also export the data to make my own graphs and do my own data analysis on the raw data when I have the time.

fitness health wellness goals self improvement selfcare
A screenshot of my Fitbit dashboard showing my sleep, reaching my goal of at least 7 hours, on January 6, 2018.

However, I’ve found those weekly goal setting checklists work quite well for me for tracking other types of goals. I’ve also found those checklists to be useful for my skincare routine goals when adding new skincare products into my skincare routine, especially if they’re products that I don’t use every day like Active Hydration Serum, but still want to make sure I’m using it several times a week. For me since I have sometimes oily, sometimes dry skin, how many times a week I use Active Hydration Serum depends on the weather, how much I spend outside on cold, windy days or hot, humid days in the summer, etc. But I love how it makes my skin feel so soft, helps reduce expression lines, and make my skin look fresher and younger so I want to make sure I don’t forget to use it as part of my evening skincare routine before bed!

(If you’re curious, my evening skin care routine products I use, in order, are:

Rodan + Fields Lash Boost (with Active Hydration Serum). Photo © Jillian Regan 2017. www.jillianreganphotography.com
Rodan + Fields Lash Boost (with Active Hydration Serum). Photo © Jillian Regan 2017. www.jillianreganphotography.com

I’ve found that having a little weekly goals checklist works stuck on my bathroom mirror works great for this! Plus it’s a visual reminder to not forget my Active Hydration Serum!

For my sleep goal, I found that I also had to revise the goal itself as well as revising the method for tracking it. I also found that I had to revise the goal because with my current work schedule it just is not realistic to expect myself to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night.

While I know I should be trying to get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, as lack of sleep has been found to be associated with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression—according to the CDC. (Check out this CDC page for more info about sleep and health). In addition to being aware of the health risks, I don’t like feeling tired the next day (or next several days, as often is the case) due to lack of sleep.

But I always have too much work to get done at this point in my life and business. That’s solopreneur life for you! I love what I do and want to be able to get done what needs to get done for my customers and clients as well as prospective customers and clients. So for now that means revising my sleep goal to be getting 7-8 hours at least 2 to 3 days a week instead of every day because that is a weekly goal that I can actually accomplish.

I hope that these examples of my goal setting and tracking have helped give you ideas on breaking down your own long term goals into shorter term, weekly or daily goals and ways to track it. I also hope you found the tips on keeping in mind the acronym “SMARTER” instead of “SMART” when it comes to goal setting, with those extra two letters reminding us to always be evaluating and revising our goals as well as our methods for tracking the goals.

health wellness fitness self improvement self-care goal setting tracking
An Instagram (@jill_y_ian) post featuring my Fitbit Alta HR, about tracking a different set of goals: the number of steps I take in a day. Connect with me on Instagram at instagram.com/jill_y_ian

If you liked this blog post, you’d also probably like this Facebook Live Virtual Coffee / Tea Break video I did on the topic of goal setting. Check it out and this 2 minute fitness challenge video I had to add separately because I completely forgot about it during my live video. Let me know what you think!

Do you have any tips or examples of evaluating and revising your goals?

Share them in the comments below!

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