Anyone can set a general goal, but you increase your chances of reaching the goal when you set S.M.A.R.T goals. In 1981, George T. Doran, the Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company published a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.” He breaks the acronym down saying that goals should be:
But having these criteria for setting S.M.A.R.T goals means nothing if you don’t know how to properly use it. The best way to do this is by creating a template, similar to an agenda template.
You’ll first need to define what your overall goal is. Harsha Bhogle was quoted saying, “The moment you put a deadline on your dream, it becomes a goal.” After you’ve defined your initial goal, you should direct attention to the first letter, “S.” The specifics of the goal itself is very important. Some things to think about would be, what you are trying to accomplish, who’s going to be included, the driving factors behind the goal, or when it will begin.
Secondly, you must think about the ways in which you can measure the success of your goal. This can include but is not limited to, keeping track of the number of customers you have, having an idea of the results you’d like to see or project, or what your employee satisfaction looks like.
It is now time to decipher whether or not the task at hand is realistically achievable. This is solely dependent on if you and or your partner can stay motivated to achieve the task and if you maintain the skill-set to achieve the goal. Having strong and reliable partners is key during this time.
The relevancy of the goal is important. You must ask yourself, “Why are you doing this at this moment?” and “Is the goal you’ve set in alignment with the overall objective?” ViKtor Frank said, “Those who have a “why” can bear with almost any “how.” The goal MUST matter to you before it can truly be achievable.
Lastly, make sure that the goal is timely. Be sure to have a deadline that is reasonable. Anyone can set goals, but if it lacks a realistic time, you won’t be successful as you’d like to be. You’ll need to ask questions like, “what can be accomplished in x amount of time?”, or “what ways can we create a sense of urgency ensuring the goal is completed in a timely manner?”
Additionally, the goal writing process should be collaborative. Your team can challenge you to foster new ideas as well. A goal is easier achieved when the whole team is on the same page. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism. Seek questions and feedback so that you have clarity on if your goal is reasonable and achievable. As you create your S.M.A.R.T goals remember that establishing clarity on the things you want to accomplish will help determine your success and failure.
When ready, share your goals with your team and stakeholders for visibility and alignment. Sharing your goal with others also creates a sense of accountability. People are now able to ask you about the progress you’ve made on your goal. They can motivate you to look at things from other angles and perspectives, as we are human and can slip into tunnel vision unknowingly.