Think about playing darts with your friends.
If you don’t know where your target is, it’s going to be pretty tough to hit that bullseye.
When I work with companies, one of the things I do is help them establish goals that will give them the best possible chance of success.
The right goals give you, your team, or your company a sense of direction and a clear target to aim for. But many businesses tend to set up goals that are far too vague. Unclear and ambiguous goals are a lot harder to meet.
One of the best methods for setting good goals is using the SMART process, which I’ll share with you in this post.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. A SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help you focus your efforts and achieve success.
Here’s how to use the SMART method to set goals for yourself, your team, or your company.
The Steps for Setting SMART Goals
SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific: Make the goal as specific and narrow as possible. Ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Who is involved in this effort?
- Where do I want to achieve this goal?
- Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Measurable: Each goal should have criteria for measuring progress. If you can’t measure it, you won’t be able to tell if you’re on track or missing the mark. To make your goal measurable, ask yourself, “What’s my success indicator? How many/how much?”
Achievable: Make your goal ambitious but achievable. Your goal should feel like a little bit of a stretch for you, so you stay motivated. If you set a goal that's too easy, you won't feel inspired to do the work. On the other hand, the goal can't be impossible, or you will get frustrated. To find the balance, take into account where you are today and what’s reasonable for you. Given the time and resources available to you, what is a goal that feels like a little bit of a stretch?
Relevant: Is this goal aligned with your longer-term targets? Are they in line with your company’s overall strategy? If you are setting professional goals, it’s a good idea to fit your individual goals in with the objectives of your team and your company.
Time-bound: SMART goals have start and finish times. There is a finish line, not an open-ended promise saying, "I'll get it done someday." Giving each goal a deadline will provide a sense of urgency that will motivate you to achieve your goal.
Examples of SMART Goals
Now that you’re familiar with the basics of setting SMART goals, let’s look at a couple of examples of how we can transform vague goals into ones that will help people and organizations succeed.
Vague goal: “Get better at email marketing.”
SMART goal: “Improve our company’s click-through rate by 10% by August 31st.”
Vague goal: “Grow the business.”
SMART goal: “Bring in three new consulting clients between now and the end of the year.”
Vague goal: “Run a marathon.”
SMART goal: "Run 5 kilometers three times a week, by July 15th."
Vague goal: “Lose weight.”
SMART goal: “Sign up for a gym membership and work out four times a week.”
Break big goals down into smaller steps, then turn those smaller steps into SMART goals. Regularly review, revise, and update your goals and objectives to drive performance in your organization.
If you want to learn about how your business can set motivating goals that set you up for success, check out my YouTube channel or my website, where you can find hundreds of articles and videos.