Setting good goals is one of the most important steps towards achieving success. Setting SMART goals provides a more recent approach towards setting goals in a more productive and efficient way by saving time and energy.
1. About SMART Goals
SMART is an acronym which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. SMART goals can be defined in more detail as:
- Specific: The goal should be clear and specific, and should answer these “Wh-” questions:
- What is the goal supposed to accomplish?
- Why is it important?
- Who are the people involved in the goal?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources and limits are involved?
- Measurable: The goal should be measurable so that progress in achieving them can be tracked. It should answer the following “How” questions:
- How much is to be achieved?
- How many days will it take?
- How will it be known if the goal is achieved?
- Achievable: The goal should be realistic and achievable while stretching your abilities at the same time. It should answer the following questions:
- How can the goal be accomplished?
- How realistic is the goal considering the constraining factors?
- Relevant: The goal should be of relevance to you and other goals. It should be meaningful and useful. You should be in control and responsible of achieving your own goals. The goal should answer the following questions with a ‘yes’:
- Is the goal worth achieving?
- Is the time right for working on the goal?
- Is it relevant to your efforts and needs?
- Are you the right person to achieve this goal?
- Is the goal relevant to the current socio-economic environment?
- Time-bound: The goal should have a time limit. It should be achieved by the target date. The goal should answer the following questions:
- What is the target date?
- What can be done from now?
- What can be done 6 weeks from now?
- What can be done today?
2. Benefits of SMART Goals
Setting goals is always beneficial as it propels the productivity of an individual. The benefits of setting a SMART goal include:
- It defines all important details of the project
- The objectives of the goal are made extremely clear
- Increases productivity by listing tasks to be achieved in specified period
- Monitors progress and keeps everyone on track
- Increases motivation by making results seem more achievable
- Improves performance by using the concept of taking one step at a time
- Saves time and resources by centralizing information.
3. How to Set SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals requires answering several questions. These answers help in tuning the strategies in such a way that the goals seem achievable.The foremost thing required while setting SMART goals is a positive attitude, and seeing the goals as something you are willing to achieve. Referring to a template as shown below makes it easier to form SMART goals.
Before setting SMART goals, keep the following points in mind:
- Look at the big picture: Break the goal into achievable segments. Work backwards from the end result and divide the goal into smaller objective to be achieved over a period of time. Looking at the end result will help in staying focused to the goals.
- Focus on the details: After forming a general picture of the goals, get down to its details. Break it down to smaller segments which are measurable and achievable. The actions should be as small and specific as possible. This will help in progressing forward and building momentum for achieving the goals.
- Apply a systematic formula: Find an efficient and systematic formula which will get you from one point of the goal to another successfully. Make the process as structured as it can be to make progress extremely easy. Using examples, worksheets, and tools to formulate objectives will be extremely helpful. Make note of every goal in written and how you plan to achieve it step-by-step.
- • Keep track of progress: While being focused on achieving your daily objectives, remember to keep track of your progress. Regularly checking achieved goals and reviewing upcoming ones will help in understanding where you stand and how far you have to go. This will also keep you motivated to keep moving forward throughout the whole process.
- • Set a target date: Setting an end date to achieving the goals is extremely important as it adds an urgency and pressure which encourages progress. Without a target date, the progress tends to become slower and demotivation strikes in most cases. Therefore, it is important to think through the timeline of the goal and break it into smaller achievable goals which will help keep track of the progress and keep you motivated.
Setting SMART goals may generally not be suitable for long-term goals, as they may stifle creativity. However, for short-term goals SMART is the way to go.