Setting goals based on the “SMART” format is a pretty novel idea. It was first mentioned in 1981 by George T. Doran, a consultant, an executive at the Washington Water Power Company. In his paper titled “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives,” he introduced SMART goals as a tool to help you increase your chances of achieving a goal.
This criterion in goal setting is an acronym for five important principles, which, when followed, will help you formulate goals that can drive you into action and achieve them.
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Why are SMART goals important?
The most successful small businesses fail in the first year: 20% for new businesses and 60% for the third year. Even after five years of business, 70% of business closes. SMART goals allow you to build upon goals bigger than you want when identifying your purpose. You need to be purposeful with intention. This’s the goal you set with Smart Goals. No matter what area you want improvement in, this strategy can save you wasted time.
What are SMART goals?
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals establish clear objectives that can be achieved within a certain timeframe.
SMART goals require you to think about each of these five components in order to create a measurable goal that specifies precisely what needs to be accomplished and when, as well as how you will know when you are successful. In this way, it is easier to track progress, identify missed milestones, and avoid generalizations and guesswork.
How to write SMART goals
So how can this acronym help with goal setting? Below is a complete breakdown of SMART Goals and how to write them.
The “S” stands for Specific. As with every undertaking, this is your endgame. This is the reason why you’re setting that goal in the first place. Choosing a specific goal is important because it will dictate what your subsequent actions are going to be. If your goal is to be vague, unclear, or broad, then you will have to do a lot of things that may or may not even contribute to your success. Thus, ultimately squandering your precious resources: time, energy, and in some cases, money.
A goal that is specific is more likely to be successful – don’t be afraid of getting into the details. A specific goal answers questions like:
- What will be accomplished?
- What steps will you take to achieve it?
The “M” stands for Measurable. There’s a saying that you have to measure your performance because what can be measured can be studied and eventually improved. This makes a goal more tangible because it provides a way to measure progress. Having the right metrics in place will also help break down a gargantuan goal into smaller, more manageable milestones.
Ask yourself these questions when figuring out how to measure your progress:
- How can I make my goal measurable?
- By how much do I want my goal to grow?
Some common data types and data collection methods to measure progress include:
- Revenue generated
- Amount of product produced
- Customer satisfaction
For example – In the month of July you would like to generate 5% more revenue than you did in the month of June. This can be accomplished by growing your marketing and advertisement efforts.
The “A” stands for Achievable. This means choosing a goal that is attainable based on your assessment of your skills and knowledge. Setting an “achievable” goal does not mean you have to lower your goals, no. On the contrary, it means to inspire you to look for ways or resources that can help you hit a goal that’s beyond your current skill set.
- how to achieve the goal,
- if you possess the necessary tools and skills
- if not, consider how to obtain the tools and skills you need
The “R” stands for Relevant. For example, you’re running a marketing business, what do you think are your relevant goals? Optimizing advertising cost in connection with sales? What if your goal is to be the marketing company with the largest landholding? Now optimizing advertising costs is no longer relevant to your overall business. Of course, this is an oversimplification of the concept but when thinking about whether a goal is relevant or not, think about whether it makes sense in relation to your broader business goals.
Lastly, the “T” stands for Time-bound. So, when setting goals, you have to commit to a target date. Another thing is that if a goal takes X amount of time to complete, you have to set acceptable standards to measure its progress—to know whether you’re behind or not—to manage all of your other resources efficiently.
How to make your SMART goals a reality
Writing SMART goals is one thing, but achieving them is another. Setting outcomes-based goals and measuring progress with SMART criteria is a great first step for you. Nevertheless, there are several other ways to set yourself up for success.
Write down your goal
Now that you’ve established your goal, what should you do? Is it okay to let it whirr around in your head until it’s over with? Not at all. It should be written down.
By writing down your goal, you are able to remind yourself, but there is also some neuroscience involved.
Writing down goals increases your chances of achieving them by 42 percent, according to a study conducted by psychology professor Gail Matthews at Dominican University.
Set regular check-ins
Any worthwhile goal won’t be accomplished overnight, which is why you should regularly monitor your progress to stay on track. Your motivation will remain high if you have those recurring reminders and opportunities for feedback, especially if your business goal is one that spans months or even years.
Celebrate your victories (even the little ones)
If you don’t celebrate your small wins and milestones, you may not achieve your entire goal. Setting smaller, incremental goals and rewarding yourself for achieving them will motivate you to keep going.
An Overview of SMART Goals
What makes SMART goals effective? Simply put, they can help you clarify your objective and ensure that you do what it takes to realize it.
To summarize, here are 5 simple steps you should follow when setting smart goals:
- Specific: Identify your goals.
- Measurable: Establish how success is measured.
- Achievable: Choose realistic objectives.
- Relevant: Ensure your goal reflects your overall goals.
- Time-bound: Create a schedule and a deadline.
Now it’s your turn to get started. Spend a few minutes setting a SMART goal that will take you one step closer to your dream business or career.
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