Understand What a SMART Goal Is
SMART is an acronym that stands for:
- Time bound
What Is a Specific Goal?
A goal needs to be specific and focused as opposed to being ambiguous and vague. When you are thinking about a goal, you should have a precise image in your mind of what achieving your goal will look like.
When you write down your goal, make it brief and easily understood by anyone reading it.
Examples of Specific Goals
A goal that states "We will increase sales" is not as specific a goal as "We will increase overall sales by 3% per month over the next 12 months." The more specific your goals are, the greater the chance you will succeed.
Checking if Your Goal Is Specific
You should be able to answer the following questions for a specific goal:
- Who is involved?
- What needs to be accomplished?
- Where does it need to take place?
- When should it be accomplished by?
What Is a Measurable Goal?
The "measurable" in SMART goals points to the ability to measure progress as you seek to achieve your goal. Your goal should be quantifiable, such that you can track its progress through milestones that you set along the way. If you cannot measure your goals, it will be difficult to manage them.
Examples of Measurable Goals
Here are some examples of measurable goals:
- Employee turnover rates in the call center will decrease by 25% over the next five months.
- We will add and fill four new sales positions before the end of the year.
- I want to complete 40 prospecting calls by 3:00 pm every working day.
Checking if Your Goal Is Measurable
If you can answer the following question, your goal is measurable: How will I know when the goal is accomplished?
What Is an Attainable Goal?
An attainable goal is realistic. It is good to set ambitious goals, but they must be attainable. An attainable goal is one for which you have the required skills, knowledge, and resources available.
It is important to understand that while your goal must be attainable, it must also be challenging. It is easy to meet goals that offer no challenge, but the point of setting a goal is to learn something or to gain something in the process of meeting that goal.
Checking if Your Goal Is Attainable
You should be able to answer the following question to determine if a goal is attainable.
- Exactly what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
- Do I have the time, resources, and skills necessary to meet this goal?
What Is a Relevant Goal?
When setting goals in a business setting, they must be relevant to the industry and to your job responsibilities. A relevant goal is consistent with your other goals and plans for what you want to achieve in in the business. Relevant goals in business also track back to the mission of the company, reflecting the values presented there.
Checking if Your Goal Is Relevant
You should be able to answer "Yes" to the following questions about a relevant goal:
- Is this goal worthwhile to the company?
- Does this goal fit in well with other goals for the business?
- Is this goal in line with my job responsibilities and skill set?
What Is a Time-bound Goal?
A goal needs to have a target date that you want to achieve it by. Without a deadline for your goal, you will not be able to measure progress and you might push it off in order to do other "not so important" tasks.
When setting the target date for your goal, it is a good idea to:
- Set dates for when you want to achieve different sub goals.
- Be realistic. If your timeline is not realistic, you will not be able to meet the goal. Also, you will take the deadline more seriously if you know it is realistic.
Examples of Time-bound Goals
- The marketing department will have 400 brochures ready for mailing by the first Monday of April.
- I will have the third-quarter revenue reports completed in time to be presented at the Annual Meeting on March 30.
Checking if Your Goal Is Time Bound
Use the following questions to check if your goal is time bound. If you can't answer these questions, it probably isn't.
- When do I need to complete this goal by?
- How much time do I need to spend on achieving this goal?
- What do I need to complete today, a week from now, a month from now, and so on?