Setting goals has become a fundamental aspect of professional and personal growth. However, merely having goals is not enough; to maximize your chances of success, it is crucial to set SMART goals.
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym outlining the criteria for setting goals and objectives. It was first put forward by George T. Doran in the November 1981 issue of Management Review as a methodology to create meaningful, valuable goals.
Doran suggested that goals should be SMART, as represented by the words Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-Related. Over time, the acronym has been replaced with different terms that meet the specific needs of the user.
For the purposes of this blog, we will be using the terms Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Whether your goals are for business or personal reasons, this approach ensures that you can enhance your focus, track progress and create goals that provide a clear roadmap to success.
The first step in setting a SMART goal is to make it specific. Vague or generalized goals lack clarity, making it difficult to develop an effective action plan. For example, instead of giving a sweeping statement such as, “increase sales,” it’s essential to define precisely what you want to achieve. Besides, what business doesn’t have the goal of increasing its sales? A more specific goal would be to “increase market share by 10% by the end of the financial year.” The more specific your goal, the easier it becomes to plan and act toward its attainment.
Goals need to be measurable so that you can track your progress and determine when you have successfully achieved them. Including measurable criteria helps you track your advancement, maintain motivation, and make necessary adjustments. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, a measurable goal would be “increase monthly sales by 10% compared to the previous quarter.” This way, you can easily measure and assess your progress toward the goal. It’s all about the numbers!
While it’s important to dream big, setting unattainable goals can lead to disappointment and frustration. An achievable goal is one that stretches your capabilities but remains within the realm of possibility. Assess your resources, skills, and limitations to determine if your goal is achievable. Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate each milestone you reach. By ensuring your goals are realistic, you set yourself up for success and build confidence in your ability to achieve them.
Relevance is a crucial factor in goal setting. Your goals should align with your values, aspirations, and long-term objectives. They should also be relevant to your current circumstances and support your overall growth, increasing the chances of success and creating a positive impact on all stakeholders.
On a personal level, goals that are meaningful and relevant to your life ensure that your efforts are focused on what truly matters to you and increase the likelihood of staying committed throughout the journey.
Setting deadlines adds a sense of urgency and commitment and helps you stay on track. A goal without a timeline lacks accountability and often gets pushed aside. On the other hand, A time-bound goal provides a clear endpoint and helps you allocate your time and resources effectively.
For example, instead of saying, “hire more tech guys,” you can set a time-bound goal by stating, “hire five full-stack developers within the next two months.” This way, you have a specific timeframe to work towards and can organize your next steps.
Setting SMART goals is a powerful strategy for achieving professional and personal success. By making your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, you can enhance focus, track progress, and increase the chances of attaining your desired outcomes. However, remember that goals aren’t necessarily set in stone, so it’s essential to regularly review and adjust them as needed but stay committed to the process. With SMART goals in place, you’ll have a clear roadmap to guide you toward professional and personal growth.
If you don’t know what your goals should be, check out our blog posts on problem identification, strategy spaghetti, and blue ocean strategy for some ideas to help you get started. Or you could book a free strategy call to brainstorm some new options.