First of all, it’s more common than we think to feel like we are working very hard and not getting the results we are expecting or to not improve our skills as much as we would have wanted in the past years. However, there is a way this could change and that is by using SMART goals.
If you don’t know what this concept is, this is the right article for you. After reading this you are going to understand what it is, how to use it, and more.
What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are concrete and realistic targets, established using a specific set of criteria to achieve in a certain period of time.
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that helps you evaluate and guide your goals. It stands for “Specific” “Measurable” “Attainable” “Relevant” and “Time-bound”.
Writing a SMART goal means working to establish a concrete goal in each of those five elements, which includes precisely what you need to do, when, and how you can know when you are successful. This is a good strategy because it eliminates generalities and guesses work, sets a consistent timetable and helps you monitor your progress and identify missed milestones.
The main objectives of using this strategy are:
- Process objectives: How well can the project be done and how are you going to achieve it?
- Impact objectives: Long term effects and how the project will impact others.
- Outcome objectives: What kind of results are formed during the completion of the project?
- Personal objectives.
Why are SMART Goals important?
The first thing to know is that setting goals in life is very important no matter where you are in life. Without them, it is very difficult to make progress as it is impossible to know for sure what tasks or activities to do to be successful.
This is why it’s so important to use SMART goals, because this way, you are increasing your chance at being successful as you are confirming that the goals you are setting are realistic and therefore achievable, you can identify the metrics that define success and the way to get them.
Using this strategy means you can clarify your ideas and focus your efforts, which gives you a sense of direction and helps you push yourself further, which is how you are going to be able to achieve the goals you have set for yourself or your company.
Benefits and Drawbacks
As we have already mentioned it is very important to establish some goals to be able to focus on what to do and be successful. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages to using this strategy:
- Helps you create objectives – It gives you a sense of direction and helps you organize and reach your goals.
- Keeps you motivated – Following this strategy means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively which will increase the chance of achieving what you want in life. It will improve your ability to reach your goals which is a clear motivation to set yourself SMART goals.
- Helps sustain one’s focus on the desired outcome – You have to keep in mind that vague goals don’t help you keep on track. However, these specific goals help you stay focused on what you want to accomplish.
- It saves you time that could easily be wasted in activities that won’t help you reach your goals.
- Quicker to identify missed targets – Easier to identify and map what steps have been missed when you have a specific goal.
- Divide large goals into small attainable ones – Try to not exhaust yourself by taking up a very large project and instead break the target into small objectives that can be reached.
- It forces you to take action by helping you to get out of your comfort zone – this strategy forces employees to think outside the box and shows them new methods of performing.
- May create unnecessary pressure – It’s normal to push and pressure yourself to achieve the goals that you have established for yourself or your company but don’t let it get so stressful that it can affect your mental and physical health. Unnecessary pressure can also lead you to start losing interest in the goals you have set.
- A big feeling of disappointment if you fail – When someone is used to constantly achieving goals it is normal to feel disappointed when something goes wrong which in some cases can lead to a serious case of depression. Just because you don’t achieve a goal, doesn’t mean it is the end of the world! Just have a plan B and continue working on the next one.
- Addiction to achieving a goal – Getting enthusiastic about the goals you have set for yourself is a very good thing, however, it can be dangerous as it can lead you to solely be focused on accomplishing these and ignore other important aspects of your life such as your health, personal and social life.
- Less importance to other tasks- Specific goals make you more focused on your target but it can also lead you to forget about other objectives which also need this much preparation, this will cause you to miss out on a lot of other opportunities.
- Overly ambitious approach- It is very usual to try to set and achieve many goals at once but it is a mistake as it can lead you to fail in all of them, so take it easy! try to focus on the most important ones and continue taking singular steps to maintain the final objective.
- Failing to realize one’s full potential- Reaching your SMART goals doesn’t necessarily mean real success. This strategy is a way for you to feel motivated along the way, however, sometimes people feel like they can relax or they can stop trying once they have reached those goals which can lead them to fail in the rest of their objectives. Setting goals that are too easy will not help you achieve more than your minimum potential!
How to write SMART Goals?
To set SMART goals, a systematic methodology must be used. It is important to set each one of the elements of the SMART framework as a guide when you are establishing your goals which allow you to track your progress and quantify if you’re on the right track.
Before knowing how to write SMART goals it is very important that you make sure what this acronym stands for and that you understand it fully:
If you want a goal to be effective keep them as precisely and as specifically as possible, otherwise, you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.
It is important to make it especially clear and don’t leave any room for interpretation. They should be intuitive to anyone who has a basic knowledge about the project.
After making sure that your goal is as specific as possible, it is important to focus on making them measurable (monthly sales or number of conversions per month) which makes it easier to track your work, stay motivated and let you know when you have reached the finish line.
However, it is not possible to quantify every goal with quantitative indicators and in this case, it would be possible to use qualitative metrics such as employee or customer satisfaction and rank them on a graded scale.
Keeping your goals achievable means ensuring that it is within reach, so make sure you keep your goals realistic and reachable. This doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t stretch your abilities, just that they should remain possible.
Keep in mind that sometimes reaching a goal doesn’t depend on you, such as getting a promotion, as it is the recruiter’s decision, but what you can still make sure you do, which is completely down to you, is to get the experience and training that you need.
Before setting a goal you need to analyse what the benefits of reaching an objective are, why it matters to you or your organisation and if it also aligns with other relevant goals.
This is a good way to help us make sure what our most relevant goals are instead of wasting our time on some tasks that won’t help us achieve anything.
You must keep in mind that good goals don’t stretch into infinity, they always have a deadline. It is an important piece of measuring success as it will help provide incentive and allows you to monitor your progress.
Establishing a clear deadline is a good way to stop the tendency of procrastinating and postponing tasks and will help you stay motivated.
Priority Matrix Template
If you decide to set a SMART goal for yourself or your company and are not sure how to start or if you are doing it the right way, you can always use this PRIORITY MATRIX template we have created for you, where you can follow and answer these questions to help you:
Here is the link to the download the template: https://sync.appfluence.com/project_templates/t/smart-goals/
DO’s and DON’Ts in setting SMART Goals
- Include your team members in company goals
- Be specific
- Track your progress
- Set stretch-goals that will challenge your team’s limitation but make sure they are achievable
- Selected relevant pals that relate to your strategic planning
- Leave room for failure
- Set a deadline
- Be flexible and be prepares to make changes and adjust your goals when it is necessary
- Reward your success
- Chase irrelevant goals which will end up distracting you and your team from achieving important and relevant goals
- Expect perfection
- Try to do it alone
- Deal in absolutes, make sure you deal in measurable things that you have control over
- Lose sight of the big picture when establishing project goals
- Focus on too many things at once
- Be too hard on yourself if you fail
To clarify the above, we have included the following 2 examples of how to implement SMART goals and how they can improve both your work and personal life:
1. To improve the response time to customer complaints
- What exactly do I want to achieve?: Improve the response time to customer complaints
- Why do I want to achieve this goal (purpose, benefits)?: To improve my company’s reputation and make customers happy.
- Where is it going to take place?: Within my company
- When do you want to do this?: Right after it has been decided and analysed how this can be achieved.
- Who is involved?: Everyone within the company
- How will you know when your objective is accomplished?: When your sales increase and when the customer rating improves.
- How can you measure progress?: By asking your customers if they are happy with your service and if they are happy with the response time to their complaints
- How can the goal be achieved?: By increasing the customer service staff
- Is it affordable and realistic?: Yes, if the company is going well, it shouldn’t be a problem to add some additional staff members to the team.
- Do you have the skills and resources necessary to achieve the goal? If not, can you obtain it?: Yes
- Is the amount of effort required on par with what the goal will achieve? Yes.
- Why is it significant?: It will enhance the brand’s reputation and it can also improve the efficiencies throughout the entire organization.
- Why am I setting this goal now? Is it the right time?: I have realized the customers are not happy with how long it takes us to respond to their complaints which is causing a decrease in our revenues.
- Is it aligned with the other objectives? Yes.
- When is it going to be achieved?: 90 days
- When can we expect to see some short-term outcomes? As soon as I have hired the additional staff needed.
2. Learn a foreign language
- What exactly do I want to achieve?: To learn to speak German fluently
- Why do I want to achieve this goal (purpose, benefits): Learning a new language will provide a competitive edge in career choices and improves listening skills and memory. It’s also a good opportunity to find more clients and make more friends.
- Where is it going to take place: at home and in a language academy
- When do you want to do this?: Start of next month.
- Who is involved?: Me
- How will you know when your objective is accomplished? When I’m able to understand the language and have a fluent conversation
- How can you measure progress? By having a conversation with someone who speaks the language by the end of each week so make sure I’m improving.
- How can the goal be achieved?: By doing it every day and being constant
- Is it affordable and realistic?: Yes
- Do you have the skills and resources necessary to achieve the goal? If not, can you obtain it?: Yes
- Is the amount of effort required on par with what the goal will achieve?: Yes
- Why is it significant?: It is important to learn a new language which will consequently give you many opportunities such as getting a job or just being able to travel and communicate with different people
- Why am I setting this goal now? Is it the right time? Yes
- Is it aligned with the other objectives? Yes
- When is it going to be achieved?: In a year
- When can we expect to see some short-term outcomes? As soon as I start practising my speaking with native speakers.
Alternatives to SMART Goals:
If you have tried this type of strategy and it hasn’t worked for you, there are also some alternatives that you can use to set your goals:
- C.L.E.A.R: It is great when working with large groups
- Collaborative: Is everyone involved?
- Limited: Time and financial boundaries
- Emotional: Does the goal engage all team members
- Appreciable: Is it measurable?
- Refinable: is it flexible?
- H.A.R.D: It is great when you want to push yourself to the limit
- Heartfelt: Are you emotionally invested?
- Animated: Can you picture yourself achieving the goal?
- Required: What is required to be successful?
- Difficult: Are you challenging yourself?
- F.A.S.T.: It is great when you want to hold yourself accountable to others
- Frequently discussed: Are you constantly reviewing your goals?
- Ambitious: Are you challenging yourself?
- Specific: what do you want to achieve?
- Transparent: Is your project visible to others?
- G.R.O.W: It is great when you want to identify obstacles ahead of time
- Goal: Is your goal specific and time-bound?
- Reality: Is it achievable?
- Obstacles: What obstacles are there on your path?
- Will: What is going to motivate you to get through the obstacles?
I hope you have enjoyed the article and learned about SMART goals. Just remember how important it is to set goals to achieve what you want in life, it is a good way to keep track of your progress and make sure it is achievable. Keep in mind that for them to be successful they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely.
Remember that even if there are bumps in the road which may delay the goal or even change the way it should be achieved just stay positive and motivated, you just have to work hard and focus and you will get there!
To summarize, if you want to learn more about this strategy just watch the following video: