While many of us know full-well the benefits of having goals (such as focus, motivation, etc.), it is not always easy to set, track, improvise, and achieve them.
Possibly one of the most popular and effective tools for achieving your goals is SMART. SMART goals are used widely by not only individuals but also teams and organizations.
The criteria for SMART goals are:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Action-oriented
R = Realistic (some people say Relevant)
T = Timebound
While many people use SMART goals, the medium and process they use to set and track these goals can be vastly different. Just look at the dizzying array of “smart goals template” on Google.
Precisely because there are so many methods out there, I want to share what did not work for me, what worked, as well as the template that I personally created for you to use.
What did not work
Putting my goals on my wall
As someone who is on her computer most of the time, I find that I only occasionally look at my wall; and even when I do, the goals that I have written down/printed out are often too small or just… not that compelling. I also prefer not to have anything on my wall, especially when pieces of paper do not look very pretty (despite the templates being pretty). Am I the only one who feels this way?
Writing my goals down in Google Docs
Feels great to write everything down! Until… I have to refer back to the docs and I just lose my attention span at the sight of a whole chunk of words (and with no easy way to filter them).
Writing my goals in a notebook
You are telling me that every time I want to track my goals, I have to: look for my notebook → find the page where I wrote it → and then realize that if I want to update my goals → I have to cross them out or rewrite everything?
What worked = a SMART Goals Template on Google Spreadsheets
I figured that the goal tracking processes that I had tried were ineffective, cumbersome, and inflexible (In my experience at least. I am not saying that these do not work for other people).
And that is why I decided to come up with a SMART goals tracking template on Google Spreadsheets.
Why use a spreadsheet?
- You can categorize your goals easily
- You can update your goals however and whenever you want, ensuring that they remain realistic even when circumstances change
- You can move your goals up and down easily to indicate priority levels
- You can filter your goals based on various factors
This is how the template looks like:
I categorized my goals using some insightful tips I got from The Mindset Mentor’s podcast episode called “How to Plan New Year’s Resolutions.” Of course, I adapted Rob Dial Jr’s tips to match my own values and thought processes – feel free to adapt this template to yours as well!
Here, you will see that I categorized my goals into 6 categories, each with its own subcategories.
- Health – Character, mental health, physical health
- Career – Job, personal
- Financial – Savings & net worth, material, experiential
- Spiritual – Personal, community
- Relational – Family, friends
- Others – Interests, administrative
[Edit] If it is difficult for you to remember those categories, feel free to come up with your own acronyms. After 5 minutes of playing around with them, I came up with CHE$S-RO. (If somebody has a better idea, please enlighten us by commenting below 👇)
- $ (Financial)
In case you need some inspiration or tips on how to use this template, I included some examples that you can refer to.
This way, you can easily see (and filter) what categories/subcategories your goals belong to, how you can measure them, as well as their deadlines/frequencies.
How to make the most out of this template
1. Decide on your own categories/subcategories
Work works for me might not work for you because after all, we share different values and priorities in life. You will want to sit down and think about what your goals are and how they can be categorized effectively.
2. Add this to your bookmarks bar so that you can track your progress regularly
3. Use the filter function, and feel free to set up conditional formatting based on dates
You can filter your goals by their deadlines and frequencies. Or you can choose to up your game by using conditional formatting so that, for example, your upcoming deadlines will be highlighted in red/orange. I’ve included a useful guide in case you are interested in conditional formatting based on dates.
4. Revisit your goals and update them often to match your changing circumstances
Life may not always go the way you want. You might be met with the good and the bad, pleasant surprises and unforeseen challenges, or you might even experience changing priorities. All these require you to be resilient and adaptable. This spreadsheet is unlike a notebook or printed piece of paper – you can update your goals wherever and whenever you’d like!
5. Have fun with it!
Setting and tracking goals is not meant to be a painful process. If you set realistic and meaningful goals, and are intentional and diligent about following them – then you are already on your way to success. And isn’t that something worth rejoicing about?
Wishing you all the best! Feel free to send us your feedback and experience @ firstname.lastname@example.org!