When I was working at a leadership conference recently, I was introduced to the SMART goal system. Basically, using SMART goals turns a vague goal into something more specific. A detailed outline of your goal will help you reach it faster by putting a reasonable plan into action. Last year when I was still in college, my travel goal was: "Go back to Europe."
"Going back to Europe" is extremely vague. When would I go back? How would I do it? For how long? What would I do to make sure I made this happen? How would I evaluate whether I had achieved this goal or not?
This is where creating a SMART goal really helps you define what you want and how you will achieve it.
"SMART" stands for:
SPECIFIC: A goal needs to really focus in on the specifics. Think of the who, what, when, where, and why.
MEASURABLE: Establish criteria for which you will measure your progress on your goal. Often the measurable part includes numbers - think, How much? It also answers, How will I evaluate if this goal has been met?
ACTION-ORIENTED: How are you going to reach your goal? This is where you put your action or steps toward reaching the goal in place.
REALISTIC: This is where you need to be true to yourself on the work you're motivated to and willing to put in. You're much more likely to achieve your goal if it's realistic.
TIMELY: Set an attainable time frame to meet your goal. When are you going to start acting toward your goal? What specific date do you want to reach your goal by?
Now let's tweak my vague example of "Go back to Europe." Here's how I could've turned that into a SMART goal:
"Go back to Europe for at least one month starting in August 2013, by applying to 2+ jobs per week based in Florence, Italy from May-July 2013 and networking with individuals involved with international travel through email or LinkedIn. Follow up with employers directly after any interviews and again every two weeks until I found out whether I have an offer."
Budget is also a huge part of travel goals, especially with flights. Here's a SMART goal I could've made for saving up for that long-haul flight from Seattle to Florence:
"Save x amount of money per week from my summer job to pay for round trip flights to/from Italy on the dates I will fly in/out on. Track savings using my banking app and check balance weekly to ensure I'm saving enough."
Setting SMART goals are especially great for taking action on your travel goals, though SMART goals can be applied to any aspect of life. I encourage you to come up with some SMART goals, and if you have some you'd like to share, please post yours in the comments below.