Smart goal setting - featured image

Your Ultimate Guide to Setting SMART Goals

Every accomplishment in life- big or small, starts with setting a goal and becomes a success only when that goal is realized. Unfortunately, if you haven’t set any objectives or goals, life can become chaotic.

If there is no defined endpoint, your actions could feel meaningless with a reduced sense of fulfillment and even if you do set goals…sometimes it gets difficult to follow through!

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” - Michael Korda elink.io
“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” – Michael Korda

Well, one thing that you can do is follow a specific process that can help you set and achieve these goals called the SMART goals setting process. SMART goal setting is a popular method used across various types of organizations because it’s both effective and simple.

In this blog post, we’ll be covering what SMART goals are, why they are important and how they are crucial to helping you achieve your goals!

What are SMART Goals? (Examples Included)

If you have ever seen a soccer match, you’re familiar with how points are scored by getting soccer ball into the goal post. Soccer players work hard to score those goals.

But without a goal post, how would he know whether he made a goal or not?! The goal post acts as a target, which the player continues to work to achieve.

A soccer player achieving a goal gif

Similarly, without setting clear objectives, we are bound to spiral and lose track of your mission. This, in fact, is the whole essence behind smart goals.

To begin with, SMART goals have been around in the world for more than 40 years!

And the concept for SMART goals setting was found by Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept. SMART goals also achieved a big push in popularity when Professor Robert S. Rubin wrote an article about them for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

SMART goals, as the name suggests, are smarter than normal goals! They bring vision, direction, structure, and a timeline to your targets. They are more than mere resolutions you “wish” to achieve “someday.”

To settle your curiosity, SMART is an acronym that stands for- specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. It’s a working reminder of the steps you need to take towards defining a goal.

S = Specific 

Be specific about what you want to achieve.

A specific goal explains the mission statement of your target. It’s not about the details on how to reach the goal, but rather answering the well-known “W” questions:

  1. What – Writing exactly “what” you want to accomplish.
  2. Why – Specifying the reason behind accomplishing a goal.
  3. Who – Specifying exactly who will be involved in this a SMART goal-setting process.
  4. When – Setting a time-frame to achieve the goal.
  5. Where – If you have a location to achieve the goal, do mention it.
  6. Which – Which are the resources required or any limitations involved in the process of goal achieving.

Setting achievable goal targets

For example:

  • Based on an accounts report, I want to earn more revenue and lower my expenditure.
  • I want to grow my company.
  • I want my employees to invest more time in their duties.
  • I have never had this many losses, I plan to overcome them within this year.
  • I have limitations because of my busy day and I cannot monitor the cash-flow of the business.

The more specific and narrowed down your goal is, the more you’ll be able to take the necessary steps to achieve it.

Read more: The Ultimate List Of Productivity Apps To Achieve Your Goals Faster

M = Measurable

Your goals should be quantified to track progress.

The capacity to measure the failure or success of a goal makes it more realistic. By having a course of action in mind you can measure and track your progress to help keep you motivated towards success.

A man counting numbers gif

Once you know how far you’ve come, you’ll be motivated to keep moving forward. You may be even inspired to exceed or extend your goal based on your level of success.

For example:

  • Earn up to 24% of profits over the next 6 months = monthly goal of 4% gains.
  • Because of my increased losses, I will begin my day with managing three major departments of the company and reviewing their day-to-day tasks.

When you have a measurable goal there’s no grey area. It’s clear if you’re close to hitting the goal, if you’ve hit the goal or if you’ve exceeded the goal.

A = Attainable 

Your goals should be challenging yet achievable.

This is often one of the most overlooked attributes of goal setting. It’s important to determine if a particular goal is attainable and realistic. This is not meant to be discouraging, but to help you prepare for the ride. If you have a bigger vision think of these goals as checkpoints along the way.

To help you determine if your goals are attainable ask yourself if you have the resources, financial or otherwise, the time-frame, or the tools required to accomplish the goal.

Measuring the success of goals

For example:

  • I read a book named The Elements of Great Management which helped me with work management.
  • I will plan my schedule way ahead before I start working in an irregular pattern
  • This might help me save some leisure time as well”

Before you start working towards a goal or an objective, decide if it’s something you can accomplish now or whether you need to break your larger vision down into achievable goals.

R = Realistic

Your goals should add value once achieved and line up with other goals you have.

Is the goal really necessary? Why is it relevant to you? Is it worth the effort and time? Does it align with your other personal/professional goals?

Only you can decide the purpose of your goal and if you or your team have the bandwidth to accomplish it. You probably think that it’s important, but ask yourself – why is it really needed?

Be realistic for goals gif

For example:

  • I use to manage all the accounts before I became the director of the company.
  • Also, the workplace is quite collaborative that will motivate the employees since productivity is my real goal.

 If a goal doesn’t contribute value towards your broader objectives, you should rethink why it’s a goal of yours.

T = Timely

Set your goal to be achieved within a specific time frame to create a sense of urgency.

This is the most important attribute of the SMART goal setting. Goals can be set by anyone, but if it lacks a real deadline, chances of succeeding it drop significantly.

Establishing a time-bound goal helps you with questions like “when will I succeed” and “what can I do today to keep moving forward tomorrow.”

Time-based targets are actually what makes the majority of people get off their backs and start working towards progress.

Keeping track of all the goals

For example:

  • I will have another accounts report in the next 6 months and wish to generate 24% revenue with reduced losses.
  • I have short-term objectives as well with small rewards for me and my employees (like incentives) in place.

In case you haven’t achieved your goal in that specific time-frame, take time to think about why it happened!

SMART goals are carefully planned, accountable and trackable objectives that are meant to address all of your major responsibilities. Remember, these goals are meant to gain your attention and resources so that you can be successful in accomplishing your priorities.

Read more: Best Chrome Extensions To Make You More Productive

Why SMART Goal Setting is Important?

Did you know that 25% of people will stop working towards their goals just after the first week, which hampers their working in the long run! People often don’t realize how important it is to set goals, especially SMART ones!

Using a SMART goal structure helps you:

  • Set boundaries and defines the steps you’ll need to take along the way.
  • Indicate progress on every level.
  • It provides resources necessary to help you get there.

Therefore, with the process of SMART goals setting, you’re more likely to accomplish your objectives efficiently and effectively.

This process not only provides the clarity and focus required to get the most out of your efforts but also eliminates the chances of overlooking all the details that might help or hinder your efforts towards achieving your objectives.

Being pessimistic gif

According to research, you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your goals if you determine a specific strategy for when, where, and how you will perform to achieve it.

Therefore, SMART Goals are the best way to prepare yourself mentally for what’s ahead. With more knowledge about what is to be done, you will be aware of the priorities and performance.

For example: 

Often, individuals put themselves up for failure by setting unrealistic and generic goals about their businesses such as “Wanting their organization to be in list Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for!”

These types of objectives are vague with no sense of direction. 

Only if they determine a goal with the SMART method, the chances of achieving it become higher.

S – I want this company to be in list Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for!

M – I will make this company a million-dollar firm through workplace productivity!

A – We will have more team-building activities in the organization for the employees!

R – These activities will create a sense of passion for their work and a happy workplace!

T – By the end of 2021, this company will generate at least 18% more revenue through productive employees!

Read more: Struggling With Growth Hacking? Learn How To Do It Right

Tips to Set and Achieve Your SMART goals?

Now that you’ve taken the first step by choosing the SMART technique to determine goals for yourself and your team, setting and achieving these goals is a separate challenge. However, there are a few tips that might help you set some actual objective.

1. Write Down Your SMART Goals

You’ve determined your goal… now what? Should you just let it bounce around in your brain until it gets lost deep inside your consciousness or magically gets done? Nope. You should write it down.

Sure, jotting down your objectives works as a solid reminder of what you and your organization are working towards. But, there’s some neuroscience as well that plays a role here!

Achievable target

A study conducted at the Dominican University by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor, shows that you’re 42% more likely to accomplish your goals if you write them down regularly.

So, get yourself a quality goal planner and start with writing some awesome SMART goals.

2. Set Regular Check-ins for Yourself

You know that adrenaline rush and excitement you feel when you are about to face a new challenge?

That feeling can fade over time — this is why so many New Year’s resolutions are long forgotten by the end of January!

Any SMART objective worth achieving won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time before it crosses that finish line! That is why it’s important for you to check-in on progress regularly of your SMART goals to ensure that you or your team aren’t falling off-track.

Having those repeated reminders and chances for feedback will keep you motivated as you achieve your end target. This is extremely important for bigger goals that can span months or even years.

3. Consider Journalizing Your SMART Goals

Before you think of it as a crazy idea, hear this out! 😉

Reaching goals (life-related or work-related) is an exhausting experience and can be stressful. Studies have shown that journaling for only 15 to 20 minutes a day is enough to lower blood pressure and reduce stress.

Animated character writing down his goals in a journal gif

Therefore, consider journalizing your SMART goals by writing down all of your doubts, worries, success, fears, motivation, and anything in-between.

This will not only clear up your mind but will also help you to fully concentrate on your objectives. All you have to do is, dedicate at least 10 minutes per day for your SMART goal journal.

4. Celebrate All Your Wins – Even the Small Ones!

It’s exciting to wait until your entire goal is achieved in order to have a celebration, but that is not the case. In fact, realizing smaller milestones can keep you moving in the right direction.

Even by achieving smaller goals, give yourself a hearty pat on the back and pump up the encouragement to stay on course. Sometimes the personal satisfaction of achieving a goal is good enough, other times you might want to share that achievement with colleagues, friends and loved ones.

Taking a moment or two to enjoy the celebration will get you ready to continue focusing on new SMART goals that you want to achieve. Sky’s the limit!

Lastly…

SMART goal setting is a process that changes over time. The goals you set in the initial year of your organization will most likely be very different from the goals you set after 10 years.

As long as you regularly revisit your SMARTgoals and work to update them over time everything will be on track! 🙂

One important thing to mention is that all goals are not created equal. Vague targets leave you wondering what steps to take next and how you’ll measure your success. However, knowing how to set goals using the SMART method offers the context and details you need upfront.

Even better, SMART goal setting really isn’t all that difficult. You simply need to run through each letter and then fill in the blanks!

Happy Goal-setting….! 🙂

Further reads:

Growth Hacking Tips From The Best Growth Hackers

10 Incredible Bookmark Managers To Save Content Faster

Don’t want to forget this information?
Pin it for future reference!

Smart goal setting- pinterest image