Do you set goals such as “get more done” or “make more money” and then say that goal setting doesn’t work because you didn’t reach your goals? One problem is that you wouldn’t know if you did reach them. What does “more” mean—an increase of 10%? Doubling? Tripling? The first step toward getting what you want is setting SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based. Whether you are setting business or personal goals, SMART goal setting can help you set better goals, the kind of goals that you’re much more likely to achieve.
Let’s take a closer look at each part of a SMART goal:
Vague goals like “get more customers” or “create a product” simply don’t work. Instead, you want a specific goal, such as “increase revenue by 20%” or “publish an ebook on Kindle.” The other four attributes of a SMART goal will make your goals even more specific.
How are you going to measure your success? Knowing how to track your goal, then tracking your progress toward your desired result, can be extremely motivating and help you to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is to increase your revenue by 20%, you need to look at your current revenues. How much did you earn last month or last year? Add 20% to that. Publishing an ebook is easy to measure—you either publish the ebook or you don’t.
Aim high, but not so high that it’s impossible to achieve. Know how you’ll put your goal into place, whether that means knowing where you can learn the new skills you need, or how much work you need to put in towards your goal each week. How will you go about increasing revenues or writing and publishing an ebook? What actions will you have to take to get there?
Keep goals realistic so, although you have to stretch a bit to reach them, you can actually achieve them. Look at where you are right now and what you have accomplished in the past, then raise the bar a bit higher. This means setting a goal that doesn’t involve too steep a learning curve, too short a time frame for achieving it, or one that is too strict for you. Setting a goal to increase revenues 500% is probably not something you can do (unless, perhaps, your revenues were extremely low).
It isn’t a goal without a deadline. You are not making a real commitment if you don’t set a time frame. And once you have your time frame, you can divide it and set smaller milestones to help make your goal more achievable (e.g. , make five client calls a day or write 1000 words a day ).
In the two examples we have been working with, your SMART goals might be:
Increase revenues 20% to $5000 a month by July of this year.
Write and publish my first Kindle ebook by April 30th.
Along with each of those goals, you should also identify the steps you will take to reach them. How will you increase revenues—by attracting new customers, creating new products for existing customers, adjusting your pricing, or some combination of these? And how will you do each of those things?
SMART goals set you up for success because instead of vague, unrealistic goals you have a plan that can really work.