Personal Development Goals Are Just Like Groceries

Personal Development Goals Are Just Like Groceries

Last week, I wrote a post on why you should set goals like a college grading rubric. So you need to set smart personal development goals, great! Now what?

Luckily for us, there’s a handy framework to help us with this: the acronym SMART works like a checklist. For fun, lets pretend your grocery list is a goal. For each, you’ll want to make sure to:


Set SMART Personal Development Goals That Are Specific

Imagine if you went grocery shopping and your list just said “groceries”. How would you know what to get? More than likely, you’d just wander up and down the aisles and grab whatever looks good. Because you walk all the aisles, it takes a lot longer than you expect. Arriving home, you’ll realize what you didn’t need and more importantly, what you forgot.

You goals should say “granny smith apples”, not “produce”.


Set SMART Personal Development Goals That Are Measurable

Great, so you know you need granny smith apples. There they are! Wait, how many do you need? You grab 2, because you’d hate for some to go bad. Arriving home, you realize that the recipe called for 3. Your guests look a little deflated, just like your “apple scarce” pie.

Your goals should say “3 large granny smith apples”, not “granny smith apples”.


Set SMART Personal Development Goals That Are Attainable

Let’s say you love chocolate. You decide to throw a chocolate party for your entire office. On the invitation you boast that you’ll be supplying over a hundred chocolate bars for the event! The night before, you head to the store only to discover that they only have a dozen in stock. You grab them all and head to the next town over. They only have 6. After a few more frantic visits, you only came up with 50 chocolate bars. Your co-workers aren’t impressed (who could blame them?).

Think about what is actually feasible for you to do before you commit. Shoot for 50 chocolate bars, not 100.


Set SMART Personal Development Goals That Are Relevant

There’s a potluck at work tomorrow. The organizer tells everyone to bring “whatever”. You rub your hands together in excitement – you know exactly what to get for this party. You run over to Bevmo and purchase a choice selection of vodka, brandy, and wine. The next day, everyone frowns upon you for thinking that alcohol at work is appropriate. What were you thinking?

When planning your goals, make sure that what you’re working towards is appropriate and relevant to your position. Bring a casserole dish, not a cocktail mix.


Set SMART Personal Development Goals That Are Time-Bound

Your significant other is hosting a dinner for some friends and asked you to buy some ingredients from the store “when you get a chance”. He/she listed out exactly what is needed and how many, so you should be good to go. Come Thursday morning, you get an angry call: “why haven’t you gotten the ingredients? I need them today!” You don’t understand – you were planning on picking them up after work today. Apparently, one of the dishes needs to marinate overnight in the fridge. In reality, your significant other needed those ingredients by Thursday morning.

Make sure your goals have that little time-bound detail.


What would you grocery list look like if it followed the SMART framework?


Photo credit:  “Grocery shopping spree…” (CC BY 2.0) by  Marawder 



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