At a very young age I was taught the benefits of creating goals for myself and didn’t really understand the importance until I was much older. I remember always thinking to myself, what do I want out of life? Where do I want to be in 20 years? What do I want to be when I grow up? Great questions to ask of course, however the real kicker came in when I started asking myself…
How do I get there?
As I got a bit older, I started to really think about my personal and professional ambitions and realized that achieving milestone objectives meant creating interim ones for myself; little did I know, I was practicing the basics of creating SMART goals for myself.
What does SMART mean?
SMART is an acronym used across many organizations today that represent the characteristics of creating objectives that are inspirational, focused and clearly defined. This idea came from a paper written by George T. Doran in 1981 called “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” and encourages people and organizations to create objectives that are
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.
Being specific is extremely important when it comes to setting objectives. This is when you clearly define what it is that you want to accomplish. Some of the questions you should ask yourself here are:
To accomplish your goal, who needs to be involved?
What is the result that you’re seeking by creating them?
How long are you giving yourself to achieve them?
What are the potential barriers that exist that can prevent you from reaching them?
Apply some sort of metric that allows you to measure the progress of your objective. This will help you monitor your progress and provide you with the ability to conclude when the goal has been met. Some people use time as a metric to validate the progress of a target, some use a dollar value if there is monetary value associated to them. There are plenty of other ways to measure different types of targets; for example, if you are trying to solve a problem or create a solution, the likelihood of success can be used as a metric itself.
We all create goals in life, some of us have aspirations and dreams that we would like to accomplish in our lifetime. Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but it’s incredibly important that the objectives we set out for ourselves—whether personal or professional—are achievable. Once you know what you want to do, it’s important to make sure that you have the ability to carry out what needs to be done in order to achieve your ambitions. This is not meant to discourage you; however, many see this characteristic of objective creation to be motivational. For instance, perhaps you’re attempting to do something but don’t have the skills, can you acquire them by taking a course?
This in my opinion is the most important characteristic of setting a target that will increase your potential for success. Is what you are trying to accomplish relevant to you or your business? As an example, if you’re a business creating a product or providing a service and you’re faced with a decision on whether or not you should change your offering, it’s imperative to keep in mind whether or not the change is relevant to your business and customers.
It’s incredibly important to set your ambitions within an achievable timeline. Take the extra steps to ensure the end date you have chosen is a logical date. As you build out your plan and time line, be sure you have clearly stated the deliverables required to meet your ambition and establish a clearly defined time it will take to complete them, ensuring you add room for flex.
Now that you have the basics on what it means to create SMART goals, give it a try! Ask yourself any question that you can possibly think of, including the hard ones. Take the time to do your research, we all can achieve the objectives that we set out for ourselves, the biggest battle you’re going to face is being diligent and sticking to your plan. If you’ve evaluated each one of these characteristics and how they affect your target, you’ll be prepared for any obstacle you face.
Remember, this method is great for all types of goals whether they are personal or business related. It can be utilized in all departments at every level.