Why Do Your Goals Have to be Specific?

Did you ever wonder why your goals need to have specificity to them?

The SMART system suggests that goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based.

Why isn’t it good enough just to say,

  • “I want a new car”
  • “I want more money”
  • “I am working to a degree”

For some people, it might quite clear why specificity is a good idea but for others, the reason may not stand out immediately.

I didn’t at first.  I thought what’s wrong with just wanting a new car or more money.  Of course, there was nothing wrong with it except there is no real definition – could I see “more money” – how much more and for what?

Owning It

One of the most important aspects of goal setting is “owning the goal”.  In other words, you can see it in your mind’s eye and  you can feel the feeling of owning it, doing it or experiencing it.  How can anyone stir up pictures and emotions without a specific description?

Writing down the specifics of the goal makes it more concrete.  What does the goal look like when it is completed?

For instance, if it’s a new car, what color is it? What make is it? How much does it cost?  What does the interior look like?  What model year is it?  What extras does it have?  Does it have air conditioning?  What kind of tires does it require?  What’s the size of the engine and how much will it cost to fill up the tank?  Where will you keep it?  How will the car be used? What is the highest speed it will travel?  Does it have 4-wheel drive?

If the description is such that you can read it to yourself or someone else and actually “see it” and “feel it”, then you have been successful in being specific about your goal.

Once the goal is specific, the other factors are quite easy to fill in.  It is this first criteria which is the most challenging and most important of all.

Try it – see if you can make your goal so very specific that you can actually “see it” and “feel it”.

Lorraine Arams

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