In our personal life we may call them “resolutions”. In business we talk about setting goals. In either case, it is important to follow these S.M.A.R.T. guidelines to make your goals as realistic and attainable as possible. The acronym S.M.A.R.T. can be detailed as follows.
Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal, you must answer the six “W” questions:
“Who” is involved?
“What” do I want to accomplish?
“Where” – identify a location
“When” – establish a time frame
“Which” – identify requirements and constraints
“Why” – specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing this goal.
EXAMPLE: A general goal would be “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “I will join a health club in my neighborhood by the 2nd week of January, and work out 3 days a week in order to lower my cholesterol numbers by 5% .”
Measurable: Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement, that spurs you on to the continued effort required to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:
How much? How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable: When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.
Realistic: To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past, or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
Timely or Time-Bound: A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs., when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a time frame, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
T can also stand for “Tangible” – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable, and thus attainable.
Write down your goals – post them in a prominent, visible location – and review your progress frequently. Once a month is not too often! The key to success is consistent review and truthful analysis. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of your goals! That just means that you stretched yourself. When you do review your progress, give yourself lots of credit for the progress you actually made. Post a comment to share how you approach goal-setting for your organization or for your personal life.