Goals are part of every aspect of business and life, providing a sense of direction, motivation, focus and clarity. By setting goals, you are providing yourself and your team with a clear target to aim for.
When setting personal or business goals, be specific. For example, just challenging yourself to “do more every day” is too vague, as you’ve got no way of tracking your progress, and no endpoint. Simply put, if your goals aren’t quantifiable, achieving success can be challenging if not impossible.
So how do you set a quantifiable goal? SMART goals are the answer, as you can break them down into five measurable factors:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. We’ll explore these in more detail shortly, but before that, let’s talk a bit more about the importance of setting goals.
The importance of setting goals (and keeping them)
Goals give you focus, without goals, your efforts become disjointed and often confusing. Goals allow you to pinpoint each objective’s tasks with laser precision, reducing wasted effort and time.
Goals help you measure progress. Keeping track of your progress towards achieving a goal is only possible if you set a goal in the first place. Measuring your progress is extremely rewarding and will help maintain focus on achieving the goal.
Goals help you stay motivated. It’s too easy to put off work until tomorrow when there is no goal to work towards. However, when you set goals, you are more apt to remain motivated to achieve them.
And finally, goals help you accomplish more. When you set a goal and reach it, it gives you a sense of achievement that you will want to feel again and again. As you achieve one goal, you push yourself towards the next. Challenging yourself to achieve more goals has the snow-ball effect of you accomplishing more.
How to write SMART goals
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound (SMART) goals are formulated using a specific set of criteria. Using the SMART criteria ensures your objectives are attainable within a particular time frame.
Writing a SMART goal involves building a goal that covers precisely what, how and by when a goal will be accomplished as well as how you’ll know if you’ve been successful in achieving the goal.
Using SMART goals eliminates guesswork and sets a clear objective making it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones. So how can the SMART acronym help with goal setting? Let’s work through each of the following components. SMART goals are:
Specific: Well defined, clear, and unambiguous
Goals that are specific have a notably greater chance of being accomplished. To make a goal specific, the five “W’s” must be considered:
- Who is involved in achieving this goal?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When do I want to achieve this goal by?
- Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Measurable: Include specific criteria that measures your progress toward the accomplishment of the goal
A SMART goal must have criteria for measuring progress. If there are no measurable criteria, you won’t be able to determine if you are on track to reach your goal. To make a goal measurable, ask yourself:
- How do I know if I have reached my goal?
- What is my measurement of progress towards my goal?
Achievable: Attainable and not impossible to achieve
A SMART goal must be achievable and attainable. This will help you devise ways you can achieve your goal and work towards it. The achievability of the goal should be stretched to make you feel challenged but defined well enough that you can actually achieve it. Ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?
- Have others done it successfully before?
Realistic and relevant: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your business and circumstances
- Is the goal realistic and within reach?
- Is the goal reachable, given the time and resources?
- Are you able to commit to achieving the goal?
- Will this goal add value or is it not really that important?
Time-bound: With a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date, and a target date. The purpose of this component is to create urgency.
A SMART goal must be time-bound in that it has a start date, progress review dates and a finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, you will have no sense of urgency and, therefore, less motivation to achieve the goal. Ask yourself:
- Does my goal have a deadline?
- How often should I review my progress?
- By when do you want to achieve your goal?
SMART Goal Example: Increase Website Traffic by 15% in the 12 months ending December 2021
- Specific: To increase the number of visitors to our website by 15%
- Measurable: Increase our website visitors from 100,000 to 115,000 within 12 months
- Achievable: Due to the social media and marketing teams’ abilities and web tools in place, we will be able to achieve this if we continue to prioritise CTR’s in our campaigns.
- Relevant: The more web traffic we have, the larger our reach and ultimately the more money we make.
- Time-bound: We have set the goal’s target for the 12 months to December 2021
Achieving your SMART goals
Now you know how to write SMART goals, how do you go about achieving them?
Once you have completed setting your SMART goals, make sure you set your yourself and your team up for success by following these three simple steps.
- Write down your goal. Jotting down your goal serves as a solid reminder of what you and your team are working toward.
- Set regular check-ins. Any goal worth achieving probably won’t happen overnight, and it’s important to check in on your progress regularly to ensure you on-track.
- Celebrate your wins (even the small ones). Don’t wait until your entire goal is accomplished to celebrate; recognizing smaller wins and milestones will keep you motivated and moving towards achieving your end goal.
A final thought…
Not all goals are created equal; vague objectives leave you wondering what to do next and how you’ll measure your success. Knowing how to set goals using the SMART framework offers the details and context you need upfront.
Successful companies set goals that support the business mission and recognize employees for a job well done. Even a sole trader can benefit from SMART goal setting and celebrating accomplishments.
Even better news: setting SMART goals isn’t all that difficult. Just walk through each letter of the acronym and fill in the blanks based on your particular objectives.
Download our editable SMART goal template at www.redivy.com.au/freemium-content/ to set your SMART goals and start taking action today.