Goal setting is the cornerstone for success – having a defined objective gives you a clear understanding of the steps you must take to achieve it. It provides a sense of direction and purpose in your actions and the choices you make.
Having a set of goals you’d like to achieve works best if you also fit in the challenges and hurdles you might meet along the way. One way you can shape your objectives is by setting it SMART - an approach that provides a realistic method of working towards your target.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. It’s a framework first coined by George T. Doran, in 1981, and used even by successful entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists.
The idea is to achieve your goals by coming up with a carefully laid out, clear, and traceable plan. By using this approach, it gives you accountability towards your goal and also makes it easier to follow through.
To be specific means narrowing your goals down with simple, clear, concise, sensible, and well defined steps. Think of it as your mission statement – a detailed list of the things you want to do to meet your goal.
For a personal fitness goal, being specific is saying something like “I need to lose 10kgs for summer” instead of “I want a body ready for summer”.
When goal setting for work, instead of saying “I want to advance my position in the company”, you could say “I need to gain the necessary expertise and skills to become the head of my department and lead my team.”
To make your goal more specific, try answering these questions:
Who – is involved in this goal?
What – do you want to accomplish?
Where – should you accomplish the goal?
When –do you need to accomplish the goal?
Why – do you need to achieve it?
The ability to measure a goal means you can quantify your progress. Having the criteria to measure your growth will not only keep you on the right track, but celebrating milestones will also keep you motivated. To do this, you can answer these questions relating to your goal:
What are the signs of my progress?
Answering these questions will allow you to see how far you are towards achieving your goal and what else you need to do to get there.
An attainable goal is a reasonable goal. This will help you understand the ways you can realise your goals or what things you need to work on to get them.
Look into your goals from different perspectives and identify the things you may have overlooked. Here are some questions to ask yourself to give you more perspective about the attainability of your goal:
What resources do I need to achieve my goal?
Are my goals realistic based on my current situation?
Make sure you can be fully equipped to accomplish the goal you have in mind. If not, look into the ways you can obtain the resources you need. The best way to set your goal is to envision yourself achieving it.
When it comes to setting goals, you should have a major goal that are split and divided into smaller objectives.
Not all goals are worth pursuing. You should know when and why not to waste your time, effort, and resources chasing certain goals when they are not relevant to you. Identify your goals and the ones that would give you and your current situation the boost it needs.
It should align with your long-term goals in life. This will give you focus.
For example, if your goal for your business is to come up with a new product, you would not digress from your company’s brand and mission statement. Ask yourself this:
Is this the right time to work on this goal?
Is it worthwhile to achieve the goal?
Smart goal setting is timely goal setting. You should know when to start and when you should be able to accomplish your goal. Setting a deadline provides a sense of accountability and urgency. This will also help you prioritise the most important tasks and avoid unnecessary distractions.
If your goal takes 6 months to complete, it’s a good idea to define what milestone you need to achieve at each step throughout the process.
Setting career goals may seem intimidating, but being able to break it down into smaller, more specific tasks can help you come up with a clearer, achievable objectives. The key is to get SMART - write down your plans to fit each of the given criteria and you will be on your journey to achieving your goals.