Put The SMART Back In SMART Goals
May 5, 2020
Author: Georgia Townshend
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Goals are part of every aspect of business and life, and provide a sense of direction, motivation, clear mental focus, and clarify importance.
By setting goals for yourself, you are providing yourself with a target to aim for, without them you’re simply shooting arrows into the woods.
Very simply, ‘SMART’ goals are used to help guide goal setting. The SMART in SMART goals is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. The process of thinking about your goals to make sure they are SMART helps to genuinely consider the importance of each goal and what it will take to make it achievable.
SMART goals are:
Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous.
Measurable: Trackable essentially, but the ‘t’ was already taken. Goals must contain metrics to measure progress against.
Achievable: Attainable, not totally impossible to achieve!
Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your purpose.
Timely: Clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and target dates.
So, let’s break it down even further…
Goals that are specific have a significantly greater chance of being accomplished. To help define the parameters of ‘specific’, cast your mind back to your school years and consider the 5 W’s… who, what, when, where, and why:
- Who is involved in this goal?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When do you want to achieve this goal by?
- Why do you want to achieve this goal?
For example, a general goal would be “I want to increase my businesses social media following”. A more specific goal would be “I want to set up a (insert social here) business page to help increase brand awareness”.
A SMART goal must have criteria for measuring progress. If you have no criteria by which you can track progress, you will not be able to determine if you are on track to reach your goal. To make a goal measurable, ask yourself:
- How many/much is your goal?
- How do you know if you have reached your goal?
- What is the indicator of your progress?
For example, building on the goal above: I want to set up a (insert social here) business page to help increase brand awareness. Every week I will aim to gain 30 new followers.
A SMART goal must be achievable and attainable, otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure. While it may be hard to estimate for some tasks, the achievability of your goal should be stretched to make you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve it.
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve my goal? If not, what am I missing?
- Have others done it successfully before?
A SMART goal must be realistic in that the goal can be realistically achieved given YOUR available resources and time. If you believe that it can be accomplished, your SMART goal is likely realistic! Ask yourself:
- Is the goal realistic and within reach?
- Is the goal reachable given the time and resources?
- Are you able to commit to achieving the goal?
A SMART goal must be time-bound in that it has a start and finish date. If your goal is not time constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and motivation! So, ask yourself:
- Does your goal have a deadline?
- If not, when do you want to achieve your goal?
For example, building on the goal above: On April 1st, I want to set up a Facebook business page to help increase brand awareness. Every week I will aim to gain 30 new followers. By the end of April, I will have realised my goal if I gain 120 followers over the course of the month.
You can’t afford to overlook the importance of SMART goal setting. Often, people or businesses will set themselves up for failure by setting general or unrealistic goals… “I want to be the best at XYZ!” This goal is too vague, with no sense of direction.
SMART goals set you up for success by making you specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. The SMART method helps push you further, gives you a sense of direction, and helps you organize and reach your goals.