Without planning—setting goals and implementing strategies to achieve them—life becomes somewhat of a coincidence; it happens to you. Everything comes down to setting priorities, and defining what you would like to accomplish, whether in your personal or professional life.

One of the most popular and well-known goal setting strategies is SMART, a mnemonic/acronym. The letters S and M generally mean specific and measurable. The most common version has the remaining letters referring to achievablerelevant and time-bound. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Specific refers to a fine level of detail regarding what you want to accomplish (who, what, where, when, why).
  • Measurable means you have metrics to determine if you meet the goal.
  • Achievable goals are goals that you have the skills, knowledge, tools, etc. needed to achieve; to achieve some goals, you might need to obtain new skills. 
  • Relevance refers to goals that make sense given your broader objectives.
  • Time-bound refers to realistic timing and deadlines.

Now, there is nothing wrong with developing SMART goals; they work for most people and are wonderful for long-term planning. However, if you are like me, you set a ton of goals—some big, some small, some daily, some weekly, some monthly—and often do not have the time to formally outline all of them in such detail. That is why I came up with RAD goals. RAD goals are very similar to SMART goals at their core but are pared down to the bare essentials. I have found that when I am goal-setting for my day and even my week, I can quickly run through the RAD framework and get to work much faster than I can with SMART. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Realistic: practical, attainable given your circumstances (time, energy, etc.).
  • Attainable: achievable with your skillsets or those you seek to obtain.
  • Detailed: specific, clear-cut and well-defined.

I start by checking the reality of my goal because if it is not realistic, it’s not happening. Determining if it is attainable is next because realistic does not always mean achievable. Something is attainable only if I am prepped properly, and for specific goals I might not be, meaning I have some pre-work to undertake before a goal is achievable. I add that to my to-do list before setting a goal in stone if pre-work is needed. I hash out the dirty details last and then get to work.

When I use RAD for most short-term planning, I am not ignoring measurability and timing completely because I already know these variables as most short-term goals are time-constrained (and timing is woven into whether the goal is realistic or not) to begin with and the measure is almost always completion.

How do you set daily, weekly, monthly, and longer-term goals? Share your strategies with us!


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