SMART Goals Are Powerful. How To Use Them

Smart Goals

You can’t discuss goal-setting without mentioning SMART goals.

Let’s break that up into two parts. Goals and SMART.

Goals

A goal is an action statement. So start it with a verb. Like increasing or reducing. You are trying to change something. It’s designed for movement. So it would help if you used action words like:

  • increase
  • decrease
  • build
  • direct
  • organize
  • read
  • develop 
  • and so on. 

For instance:

I want to increase customer satisfaction with 10% by January 2022

Smart

SMART is a handy acronym often used to develop goals. SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Actionable (Achievable), Realistic and Time-bound. It has proven to work in theory and, more importantly, in practice. Notice, however, there is no clear consensus about what the five keywords express or what they are in any given situation. 

Specific

Goals should be Specific in behavior or specific events, meaning what has to be done. When you divide a goal into small steps, it can be handled and attacked directly. 

Is it specific enough that anyone would know the next step? 

They should tell us what exactly is expected, when, and how much. They must be clear and unambiguous. They have a starting point and ending point.

  • What are you going to do? 
  • Why is this important to do?
  • How are you going to do it?
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify needs and constraints.
  • When: identify a time frame.

Measurable

Goals should be Measurable. They ought to have numbers, such as: 

  • I will make 6 sales this month
  • I want to read 30 books in 2022 or 
  • I will increase my revenue by 15% by the end of 2022.

If your goal is to “increase revenue,” that is not measurable. 

By adding a number to it, you can measure and manage progress. You will be able to know for sure if you are meeting your objectives or not. You should be able to notice that changes occur.

So set up concrete criteria for measuring progress towards attainment of each goal.

A measurable goal answers questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • What does success look like?

Actionable/Achievable/Attainable.

Goals should be Attainable. Make sure your goals are only slightly out of your reach, opposed to a promise of heaven. Goals are a tool to help you achieve success. Improving your paycheck 500% in the next year, for example, could be an example of an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme. But, getting a 10% raise, for instance, may be realistic. 

An attainable goal answers the question “How can I accomplish that goal.” 

But whatever you want to achieve, you should set your goals toward the top end of what is possible. Or in other words, if you regularly meet your goals easily, you aren’t setting them high enough. 

Actionable implies that when you read it over a year, you still know what you should do. 

  • How are you going to reach it? 
  • Is it something you can do? 
  • Will you manage to reach your goal? 
  • Can you break it into actionable steps?

Realistic / Relevant 

Goals should be Relevant. Under the current circumstances, you are able and willing to reach that goal. Because it is worthwhile, and you are the right person to pursue it. Doing so propels you to higher levels and helps you achieve more success in life. 

Do some research to find out if your goal is realistic. 

Your goals should be within reach and slightly challenging to keep you motivated. Knowing that your goal is just too much for you will keep you from giving it your best. 

Realistic means “do-able.” You can reach them with some effort! A satisfying achievement is possible when the bar is set high enough. 

Too difficult sets the stage for failure. Too easy suggests a sense of inadequacy. Be real and honest. 

  • Can you achieve your goal with the resources at your disposal? 
  • Does this goal fit in with other goals and life plans? 
  • Is the goal in alignment with who you are? 
  • Does this seem worthwhile? 
  • Is this the right time? 
  • Does this match your other efforts/needs? 
  • Is it suitable?

Time-Bound  

Goals should be Timely. Your goal should have a specific deadline instead of ‘someday .’ This anchors them within a time frame. Set a deadline or fail!

Set a deadline for your goal. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now. Your deadline must also be realistic of course. 

When should the goal be completed?

A goal must have a starting point, ending point, and fixed durations. 

I am going to try to lift weight is a wrong goal. (try, could, should, possible could do, soon, by the end of the year)

I will bench press 5 repetitions of 200 lbs by the end of December.

It would be best if you defined goals in terms of steps. Steady advance, through well-chosen, sensible, interval steps, delivers results in the end. Find out what those steps are before beginning.

As well as the details mentioned in the previous paragraphs on the SMART acronym, you might want to consider the following too.

You should be accountable for your goals. 

Without accountability, people are likely to con themselves. 

Once you know exactly what you want, when you want it — and there are serious consequences for not doing the appointed work — you are even more likely to continue in the pursuit of your goal. 

Ask somebody inside your circle of friends and family to whom you can be accountable. Ask this person for periodic feedback on the reports on your progress.

Smart Goals should be Visible.

Please make a list of your goals, and study them at least daily. 

Setting SMART Goals is a proven recipe for success.

Spending some time upfront defining your goals can save you a lot of frustration and discouragement further down the road.

SMART goals are easier to craft than control.

So keep your goals in sight!

If you add E (ecology of the goal) and R (reward of the goal) to make them SMARTER, you more or less have a ‘well-formed outcome‘.

SMART Goals Are Powerful. How To Use Them