SMART Goals - WiseHead



SMART goals

- 15 min read

Every great success consists of small achievements. To succeed in any sphere of life, you need to set a goal, plan how to reach it, put that plan into practice and repeat that scheme as many times as you can. It seems quite obvious and even trivial, but many people still may find themselves struggling with achieving what they want. To avoid such a scenario, you should pay attention to the goals you set. It is a crucial thing to consider.

What is S.M.A.R.T.?

The concept of SMART goals is a guide to setting the objectives that are doomed to be achieved. The word SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-related. This concept saw the world in November 1981, when George T. Doran published an article “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” for the Management Review issue. Originally, the criteria for setting successful goals concerned employee-performance management and project management, but it actually applies to any purpose, not only career- and work-related plans. The most common scope for SMART goals is your day-to-day occupation.

Let us focus on each characteristic that makes your goal smart and consider it in detail.

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S – Specific

You need to be specific about the result you want to get. Think it through and catch every detail. Before you start, it is very important to have a clear vision of what you will get after all your efforts are done. Having created a detailed image of your future success, it will be much easier to deal with planning and organizing. It is useful to answer a range of “w” questions related to your objective:

  • What? Decide on the exact result you desire to get. What is it? What does it feel like?
  • Who? Think about people who may be involved in your plan. Who are they, and which role each of them plays?
  • When? To be more motivated, set a time frame. When do you want to reach the goal, and when can you do it?
  • Where? If your plan requires a specific location, decide what it will be beforehand.
  • Which? Consider all possible requirements. Thinking it through will also help you understand how realistic your goals are. Which obstacles may you find on your way? Which things can go wrong, and how can you prevent them from happening? Which risks may you face, and how will you deal with them?
  • Why? Define the reason for your goal. You may face serious problems with motivation if you do not understand why are doing this. It is important to verbalize your reasons. Otherwise, your brain will not bother to put much effort into the task.

For better results, try to write down all those questions and answer them in detail. It will make planning easier and help you concentrate on your goal. “S” actions may also include overseeing, updating, managing, developing, and upgrading.

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M – Measurable

How will you know if you are close to the goal or not? How much is already done, and how much still needs to be done? To feel more confident while moving to the goal, decide on metrics you are going to use in the process. Divide your goal into a few smaller targets and write a step-by-step plan if your goal requires months to be completed. Each step will serve as a milestone that indicates how close are you to the desired aim. Those milestones may consist of specific tasks that need to be accomplished.

The methods you use to determine your progress may also be quantitative and qualitative. For example, you set a goal to accomplish a great project that will upgrade your business. You can measure your success quantitatively by paying attention to the amount of money you have earned and productivity results. You can also measure it qualitatively by checking surveys or client satisfaction. It is up to you to decide what way works better for you.

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A – Achievable

A reality check is inevitable. Setting a goal that is barely realistic and requires tools and skills you do not possess is a great way to become disappointed. It is much better to weigh all the risks beforehand. You need to be sure that you can and will achieve the target before you start putting effort into it.

But do not rush into giving up too easily. If you have pondered your goal and decided that it is too far to reach although you want it badly, try to verbalize what exactly distances you from it. Consider what skills or tools you need to obtain to become closer to the goal. Obtaining these things can be your milestones that are described above.

It may be hard to decide on this matter. For example, you may hesitate about the goal you want more than anything, but you are afraid to put all your resources into it and eventually fail. Any goal that requires risks and sacrifices should be pondered thoroughly. Try to write down all the pros and cons of each decision. If possible, you can also try to make the scope of your goal smaller and see yourself in action. If you feel confident in the process, it will make sense to try it on a larger scale. Sometimes it also helps to flip a coin – while it is falling you most likely will already know what side of it you want to see.

R – Relevant

The goal you set should make sense in the long term. Goals that are wanted only as temporary wishes have a huge probability of not being achieved. It concerns not only problems with motivation. Any goal requires effort, time, and sometimes money. Wasting all those resources to achieve an irrelevant goal, you deprive yourself of opportunities to accomplish goals you really need.

For example, if you want to obtain a certain skill and it requires a lot of time and effort, ponder the profits you will gain. If the efforts exceed profits, the goal is not relevant and it makes sense to reconsider it.

T – Time-related

It is hard to succeed in accomplishing a goal when you do not have a time frame. Not setting timing is a way to procrastinate and eventually become disappointed. Having a specific time frame will help you stay motivated and focused. It is also useful to set a target date for each small task or milestone that you have written down in your plan. That way you will track your progress and feel confident about your work.

It is imperative to choose a realistic timing that will not put too much pressure on you. Ask yourself how many hours each task will take and think when exactly and how often you are ready to work on your goal. Look at your schedule and plan on which days will be the most suitable. Decide on the exact amount of time you will need to accomplish your goal. Considering this information, it will be easy to set a realistic target date.

How to write SMART goals?

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Before you start, ask yourself a range of necessary “w” questions described above. If your goal is work-related, then it makes sense to communicate with your time and discuss in detail the points of your colleagues. Divide the responsibilities to make sure that the plan will work for each member. If your goal concerns your personal life, focus on your gut feeling and provide a reality check. Remember that in this field, you are the only judge of yourself.

Let us give some examples of using the concept of SMART goals in practice to make the process more visible and clear. The most common field to apply the concept is business, but it also may be used to set personal goals.

Goal #1: I need to complete a project to increase my company’s earnings:

  • Specific: The web site of our company is quite popular among users. I want the users who visit it from mobile devices to feel more comfortable, and provide them with a mobile app. To reach this goal, I am going to need the serious involvement of my team.
  • Measurable: In case of successful accomplishing of the goal, our mobile app will have 100,000 installs within a year of launch.
  • Achievable: I consult the departments that will be involved in the process, and each of them assured me that the goal is possible to reach. I have to manage the process and make sure everyone will do their best and stay focused and motivated. I have already had similar management experiences, so I am sure that I can do it.
  • Relevant: Since websites and mobile apps are called not only to inform customers but also to gain their attention, developing an easy-to-use mobile app will attract more clients.
  • Time-related: The development of an app requires a lot of work and thorough checking, so I expect the app to be launched by the end of this year.

Goal #2: I want to improve my rhetorical skills:

  • Specific: I want people to pay more attention to my ideas. I feel like the problem is the way I deliver them. I want to be more eloquent and persuasive speaking with my co-workers and clients.
  • Measurable: I expect those skills to help me build firmer business relations. I will consider my goal reached if I make a deal with a client that I have been struggling to find common ground with.
  • Achievable: To obtain the skills, I will need to take an online course that will last for a month. I am also going to read proper literature. It will not take too much time, so I am ready to start this week.
  • Relevant: My job is working with people. Rhetorical skills should help me in making deals, attracting clients, and presenting ideas.
  • Time-related: I expect to finish my course and literature studying in 2 months and get visible results within 6 months.

Goal #3: I want to learn how to dance salsa:

  • Specific: I adore people who dance well. I always wanted to take dance classes myself. I need a place to clear my head and get positive vibes. I expect the dancing school to become this place.
  • Measurable: My only metric is my satisfaction. If I like the way I dance, I will consider it a success.
  • Achievable: I do not aim to become a professional dancer, so taking classes twice a week will be enough. It also perfectly fits my schedule.
  • Relevant: Dancing is not only a fun hobby but also a great physical activity that I desperately need, considering my work in the office. It will positively affect my physical shape and health.
  • Time-related: I want to see a result within 6 months.

Goal #4: I want to read 50 books next year:

  • Specific: Reading is my hobby, so I want to pay more attention to it this year.
  • Measurable: I will measure my success quantitatively (50 books).
  • Achievable: To reach my goal, I need to read about 4 books per month. It means 1 book per week. I will watch less films and series to free time for reading.
  • Relevant: A great percentage of the books I want to read are related to self-development that will be useful in every sphere of life.
  • Time-related: I will complete the goal within a year.

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