Goals provide a sense of direction and focus, whether that’s in business or life. When setting goals, how you set them can make all the difference. A SMART goal is one method of setting goals that I have found to be very effective. This kind of goal will help you maintain focus and motivation to help you accomplish anything. Here’s how!
What are SMART goals?
Let’s first start with understanding what a smart goal is. SMART is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. In a nutshell, a SMART goal is all of the following:
- Specific: Clearly defined, and not ambiguous
- Measurable: Containing a set of criteria to measure your progress towards that goal
- Achievable: Attainable, not impossible to achieve
- Realistic: Relevant to your purpose (whether in life or business)
- Timely: Containing a clearly defined timeline, or creates a sense of urgency
Setting up a with all of these aspects may seem a little overwhelming when looking at it as a whole. Instead, let’s break each one down.
When you’re specific with your goal, you have a greater chance of accomplishing it. To make this goal specific, you should ask yourself these questions:
- Who is involved in accomplishing your goal? – For life goals, maybe this is just you or you and your family, for work maybe it’s a small team.
- What do you wish to accomplish? – What exactly do you want to walk away with after accomplishing your goal? Is it a more organized house? Is it weight loss? Is it the end of a specific work project?
- Where should this goal be achieved? – It might be at home, or it might be in the office. Maybe you need to present at a conference.
- When do you want to achieve this goal? – What’s your timeframe? Do you want to lose weight in 6 months? Do you need to meet project deadlines at work?
- Why do you want to accomplish this goal? – This your motivation to complete the goal and something you should refer to whenever you feel yourself falter.
These questions will get you nearly halfway towards creating a SMART goal. Your answers will relate to the rest of the parts of your SMART goal.
Measuring Your SMART Goals
For any goal, you’ll need to be able to recognize when you’ve made progress and when you’ve accomplished it. For something like weight loss, you could say your goal weight is 120 lbs, and each week you plan to lose 1 lb. For other goals, those numbers are harder to come by. This is the part that I struggle the most with when creating a SMART goal. IFor goals where the numbers take more effort to figure out, I put off calculating the progress and often find myself feeling a lack of progress towards goals, even if I have been making progress.
Instead, separate your goal into digestible pieces. Maybe that’s separating and numbering tasks. Maybe that’s tracking your goals in a bullet journal. (Not sure how to start bullet journaling? Check out this blog.)
For instance, my goal is to increase sales in my Etsy shop, but I’m unsure what number I should aim for realistically. Instead, I separated my goal into bite-sized chunks: posting social media posts once a week to increase traffic/highlight shop items; reaching sales goals each month; creating and maintaining inventory on high demand products.
This method helps me to measure my progress without digging for the exact numbers. If I’m accomplishing these tasks, or goal segments, I know that I am making progress towards my goal, preventing me from getting discouraged. This is something that works for me, but you may find something else that works better.
Is Your Goal Achievable?
A SMART Goal needs to be attainable, otherwise, you’ll just get discouraged by constant failure and abandon your goals. Your goal also needs to challenge you in some way, but not overwhelm you. For this, look at what others are doing.
- Have others been able to successfully complete this kind of goal?
- Do you have the ability and resources to achieve the goal?
If the answer to those is yes, then your goal is achievable. Be careful not to overestimate your ability or push yourself too hard or you may burnout. Burning out can prevent you from making any progress towards your goal.
Realistic SMART Goals
If your goal is achievable, you’re halfway through this step. You need to have realistic expectations of your SMART Goal. For instance, though some people have become superstars nearly overnight, it’s not realistic to have the same goal. Instead, you need to make sure that your goal matches your resources and ability and keep your expectations in check.
Making It Timely
This is another aspect of SMART Goal setting that I have had issues with in the past. You need to set realistic time expectations for your goals. Be sure to track your start date and set (a loose) finish date. (I’ll get to why set a loose one in a second.) By not setting a time expectation, you may not have the motivation or sense of urgency to meet your goals. This could hinder your progress or deplete your motivation entirely.
For me, however, setting too strict of a time goal is discouraging. That is why I suggest setting a loose due date. As long as it’s not something that has a hard deadline (like needing a presentation done by a conference date), you’ll have the ability to adjust the time aspect as needed.
Maybe a part of the progress took longer than you expected or perhaps you’re waiting on someone else to finish a step before completing the next step. These are valid reasons for setting back your due date. Just be wary of continually setting back your due dates.
Example SMART Goals
Now that you understand the basic aspects of a SMART goal. Here are some examples:
- I will acquire three new clients for my business in two months through referrals, social media marketing, and networking with local businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.
- In the next 6 months, I will have an inventory of 30 handmade journals in my Etsy store. I aim to make a profit of at least $200 per month by building a social media presence, encouraging product reviews and paid advertising through Etsy.
Accomplishing Your SMART Goals
If you’ve set up your SMART goal effectively, you’ll be able to accomplish it in no time. Be aware that you may need to make adjustments to your goal over time, and that’s 100% okay! We’re all human, so be sure to take that into consideration too. Adjustments will need to be made every once in a while, but if you’re changing aspects of your goal a lot, perhaps you need to reevaluate your goal as a whole.
By making a goal Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely, you’ll maintain a sense of direction while staying organized and focused on reaching your goals!