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Webucator's Free Goal Setting and Time Management Tutorial

Lesson: Creating a Strategy to Achieve Smart Goals

Welcome to our free Goal Setting and Time Management tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Goal Setting and Time Management Training course.

Often the difference between success and failure in goal setting is dependent on whether or not your goal is a "SMART" goal.

While the SMART paradigm provides a framework to think about your goals, it is always important that the goals you set be your own goals.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn what a SMART goal is.
  • Learn how to identify the right tools for goal setting.

Understand What a SMART Goal Is

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. 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:

  1. Who is involved?
  2. What needs to be accomplished?
  3. Where does it need to take place?
  4. 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:

  1. Employee turnover rates in the call center will decrease by 25% over the next five months.
  2. We will add and fill four new sales positions before the end of the year.
  3. 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.

  1. Exactly what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
  2. 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:

  1. Is this goal worthwhile to the company?
  2. Does this goal fit in well with other goals for the business?
  3. Is this goal in line with my job responsibilities and skill set?

Time Bound

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:

  1. Set dates for when you want to achieve different sub goals.
  2. 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

  1. The marketing department will have 400 brochures ready for mailing by the first Monday of April.
  2. 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.

  1. When do I need to complete this goal by?
  2. How much time do I need to spend on achieving this goal?
  3. What do I need to complete today, a week from now, a month from now, and so on?

Understanding SMART Goals

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

In this exercise, you will answer the following questions about SMART goals.

  1. Which of the following are traits of SMART goals?
    1. The goal should be relevant and time bound.
    2. The goal should be general and attainable.
    3. The goal should be relevant and important to the person setting it.
    4. Progress toward the goal should be measurable.
  2. Think of a goal you set in the past and failed to accomplish. Compare the goal against the SMART framework and determine if any element is missing.


  1. A, C, and D.
  2. If there was an element missing in your failed goal, reflect on what you could have done differently to align it with the SMART framework. For example, if your goal did not contain an element that can be measured, you need to quantify the goal in some way. If the goal was to reduce turnover, but there was no mention of how much you want to reduce turnover, the goal should have been: "To reduce turnover by 25% by the end of the quarter."

Identify the Right Tools for Goal Setting

After developing SMART goals, the next step is to take action. Taking action is what makes a goal a reality. Acting on goals requires planning, executing, and monitoring the progress toward those goals.

  1. Plan: Once you have set the goal, you need to lay out the subgoals and to think through what you need to do to achieve the goal.
  2. Execute: Once your plan is in place, it's time to execute, or to take concrete actions.
  3. Monitor: As you work toward your goal, it is important to monitor your progress.

Fortunately, there are many tools to choose from that can help you in planning and tracking your goals. Some are:

  1. Planners.
  2. Schedules.
  3. To-do lists.
  4. Smart phone apps.
  5. Online software.

We will not go into details of the pros and cons of the different tools available. However, let's discuss some basic features you should look for in the tool you choose.

Planning The tool you choose should let you write down the steps or subgoals that you need to achieve in order to accomplish your main goal. Any goal that takes a couple weeks or more to accomplish should be broken down into subgoals. These are milestones on your journey toward your goal. The tool of your choice should allow you to schedule these milestones and the date or time by when you want to achieve them.
Tracking If you cannot track your progress toward your goal, you won't know when you might be going off track in your journey. Successfully completing different milestones is also a great motivator. Your tool should provide a means to check off milestones as you complete them and to know if you are on schedule. Without this feature, you might start lagging behind and not even know it.
Ease of Use Whether you use a paper-based tool, an online application, or a smartphone app, it should be easy to use and access. For some, a simple diary with a yearly calendar can be more effective than a software application that's loaded with features but has a complicated user interface. Others might prefer to manage all their goals by smartphone apps. The idea is to find what suits you. You might want to experiment with some tools until you find what works best for you.

Identify the Right Tools for Goal Setting

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

In this exercise, you will answer the following questions about using tools for goal setting.

  1. When setting goals, what are some tools or tips you can use?
    1. Create goals that motivate you.
    2. Create SMART goals.
    3. Create an action plan.
    4. Write the goals down.
  2. Why is tracking your progress toward achieving a goal important?
    1. Checking off milestones is a great motivator.
    2. Tracking is not necessary if you use an electronic solution.
    3. It is easy to get off track without monitoring.
    4. Tracking will hamper your progress because of the time it takes.
  3. What is an important criteria for choosing a goal setting tool?
    1. It must be cheap.
    2. It must be easy to use.
    3. It must be paper-based.
    4. It must be electronic.
  4. Solution:

    1. All of the above.
    2. A and C above.
    3. B. It must be easy to use.