Making Goals SMART
The first step of successfully reaching a goal or New Year’s resolution beings with writing it as a SMART statement: Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
The consulting company for which I work requires us to set SMART goals with a mentor, provide mid-year progress, and report final status on at the end of the calendar year. Doing this for a decade has taught me to ensure I write a SMART goal correctly as the right first step.
Just as a healthy breakfast or a morning workout sets the tone for a lively day, writing a goal according to SMART principles sets an effective foundation for accomplishment.
As an example, many people write their New Year’s resolutions generically as, “I’m going to lose weight,” “Join a gym and really go to it,” “Quit smoking for good this time,” or “Make more money.” While these are great aspirations, applying SMART principles ensures greater likelihood of success.
What exactly do you want to achieve and why? Specific statements contain more details, such as, “I choose to lose ten pounds,” “Lower body fat by five percent,” “Wear clothes two sizes smaller” or “Increase sales in the Northeast District by eight percent.” Think about why you want to accomplish this goal, such as reducing the risk of a heart attack or increasing your opportunity for a promotion.
How will you quantitatively evaluate progress of your goal? One of my former bosses used to say, “What gets measured, gets done.” Write your SMART goal so you can track progress by pounds, percentages, sizes, calories, hours, networking sessions, dollars, sales, profits, etc.
Can you realistically attain this goal? What can you really do this year? Set yourself up for success with a goal you can achieve. Break it down into smaller chunks to measure progress in six months or even quarterly. Just as you don’t wolf down an entire pot roast in one meal, set yourself up for success one bite at a time. If you can’t achieve it, why even start?
How does this goal relate to your personal or professional life? How does it impact your close relationships? How does it align with your job responsibilities or company’s objectives? You will work harder toward goals that are more relevant in your life.
What is the time frame, usually an end date, for you to achieve this goal? For example, “By the end of October,” “During second quarter this year,” or “From January 1 through April 30.”
Setting a time limit on a relevant, achievable, measurable, and specific lifestyle change transforms it into a SMART goal, such as:
- I choose to lose ten pounds by May 1 for my fifteenth high school reunion.
- I choose to increase sales by eight percent in second quarter this year.
- From April 1 through June 30, I choose to promote my business during five networking functions.
Finally, write your goals and post them where you can see them regularly—on your mirror, front page of your journal, corner of your monitor, etc. Schedule time with yourself, and maybe even a mentor, to review progress of your goals at least every six months. Most of all, remember to pat yourself on the back or treat yourself to a fun outing once you reach your SMART goal.
Jean Neff Guthrie is the author of Mystical Aria: Seeking the Gallion Queen, which hit Amazon #1 Best Seller in February, 2016. Visit www.JeanNeffGuthrie.com for novel highlights and purchase. Click here for VIP Access to Aria, which includes two free chapters, character map, promotions, news, fun facts, and more.