Developing goals is a key step to succeeding in business and personal life. While even bad goals are better than nothing, a tried and proven methodology is found in the acronym SMART. Let’s walk down through the letters.
“S” = Specific. State what you want to accomplish by setting this goal. Use action words such as build, obtain and increase. This ensures someone reading the goal will know exactly what the outcome is to be.
“M” = Measurable. Define milestones to show progress being made towards reaching the goal. Quantifying is the key and may include a percentage increase, dollar figure or count of new customers.
“A” = Achievable. Step back and ask yourself if the goal is reasonable. Is it something that can done within the desired timeframe? Keep in mind that stretch goals are good as long as there is realistic hope they can be reached. Ask questions like will the market support your growth and how is the competitive outlook? Is there time in your schedule to work towards the goal?
“R” = Relevant. Does it align with your overall objectives? A goal set to enroll and complete a particular class is good but if it doesn’t pertain to your degree program or career, it may not make sense at the time.
“T” = Time bound. When is this goal to be realized? Deadlines need to be reasonable and specific. “Sometime next year” is probably not a motivating date but “by the beginning of the second quarter” eliminates ambiguity.
Take this goal: Find another job that pays more money. Contrast it with a SMART goal. Within four months, be promoted to regional director with a pay increase of at least 20% over my current salary. The second clearly states what is to be accomplished, by when and the desired outcome. Relevancy does assume jobs are available in the geographical area. Complete success will be evident when the 20% salary increase is reached.
One more example. A goal is set to increase online sales traffic. An admirable objective but for the best chance to reach this desired growth, it can be made SMART by expanding it to – increase online sales traffic to the company website by 30% month over month for the next 3 quarters. Assumptions are that there is sufficient demand for product and the company can manage the growth.