S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Is Clever

Canaletto at Stresshacker.com If there is one thing that entrepreneurs and managers have in common, it is that they usually have a high level of awareness that life is made of decisions. Goal setting, implementation, choice of objectives is something of a second nature in professional life. But did you know that decision-making is an inherently stressful activity?

Decisions of some significance nearly always produce a measure of stress. Some individuals seem to have the easiest time making decisions, and their stress may come from impulsive choices that turn out to be ill-considered. Others have the hardest time coming up with a choice, and they linger endlessly in the stress of indecision. There is virtually a different decision-making process for each human being, as so many subjective factors can enter into it. Often, stress is heightened by not having a clear goal, having conflicting objectives, or lacking necessary information.

Of the many tasks involved in decision-making, setting meaningful objectives is perhaps the most important. The S.M.A.R.T. way is the best way to set objectives in stress management. 

  • S is for specific, concrete objectives. Instead of, “I want to work on my stress,” say, “I’m going to set aside 1 hour every Sunday evening, to plan my weekly stress-reduction activities.”
  • M is for measurable objectives. Instead of, “I want to exercise more,” say, “I’m going to schedule 1 hour of {insert a specific exercise activity} every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 6:30pm.”
  • A is for actionable objectives. Instead of, “I want to be a calmer person,” say, “I am going to learn and practice {insert specific anger management techniques} that I can apply to my individual situation.”
  • R is for realistic objectives. Instead of, “I want to be as relaxed in my life as the Dalai Lama," say, "I want to reduce my stress to a healthier level by learning more about the causes and manifestations of stress."
  • T is for time-bound objectives. Instead of, “I want to lose some weight,” say, “I want to shed 12 pounds by the end of October.”

These are just some examples from different areas of stress management. Perhaps one or more apply to a specific situation in your life. If so, take this opportunity to set as your first SMART objective to work on your personal stress management program. How about, for example, a health objective? There are many ways to be healthier: lose weight, stop smoking, reduce alcohol intake, exercise on a bi-weekly schedule, forgo unhealthy foods like chips, sodas or candy bars, and many more. Formulate your health objective the SMART way. Write your objective on a piece of paper and put it in a place where you see it every day, as for example on your bathroom mirror or the steering wheel of your car. It’s the SMART thing to do!