How To Achieve Your Goals Using the SMART Goal System
June 1, 2014
Whether you are an employee or the owner of your own small business, you have goals. Are they SMART goals, possibly not just yet but this article’s purpose is to help you to turn your aspirations into reality using the SMART goal system.
Think about what you want from life, both short term and long term;
- You may want to spend more time with your family, or
- You may want to manage your department or transfer to a new department within your company, or
- You may want your weekends and evenings back (this one is my current goal!!), or
- You may want to increase your profit by 30%
These goals can be business orientated or personal aspirations, hey, you may not have defined what you want to achieve in the next month, the next year or in five year’s time just yet. But if you don’t take a minute right now to think about this, when will you ? In the early years of my own business start up, I spent all my time trying to increase my customer base with no plan, no goals. I wasn’t focused and I didn’t have any direction … grow my business … more like let my business take me along where it decided to go. By defining my goals using the SMART goal system, knowing what I wanted to achieve, I was then able to see the path I needed to take and plan a strategy to take me there.
Most of us humans have a vague idea of what we’d like to achieve, but life has a way of pulling us into the day to day living and if you don’t make time to define your goals and plan your strategy, you can’t achieve them. It’s like driving to a destination without a map (and no app!), you will never get there if you don’t know where you’re going.
The Solution: SMART GOALS
Let’s start with something easy.
Write down one goal you want to achieve in a month’s time. For example:
- Go away for a long weekend.
- Generate more income so you can pay your tax bill on the 20th.
- Be actively using LinkedIn to generate more business.
- Get more customers.
- S – specific
- M – measurable
- A – attainable
- R – relevant to the overall vision and mission of the business
- T – include a Timeframe for completion
To set a specific goal, you must answer the following 5 “W” questions:
- What: What do I want to accomplish?
- Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
- Who: Who is involved?
- Where: Identify a location.
- Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Set realistic goals that you are able to achieve but which will stretch you. It is by pushing yourself that you will attain your goals. To set an attainable goal you must answer the “H” question:
- How: How can the goal be accomplished?
To be relevant, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. Look towards tying your goal in with your mission or vision statement. Your goal needs to be important to you and relevant to your ultimate business vision.
A goal should be grounded within a time frame. A goal must have a target date. Commitment to deadlines helps teams to focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. Goals without deadlines or schedules for completion tend to be overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organisation. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. To set a timely goal you must answer the sixth “W” question:
- When: Establish a time frame.
Examples of SMART goals
Poor Goal: Reduce customer complaints in service department
SMART Goal: Design and implement new customer complaint procedure in service department to reduce complaints from 30% to 5% of total business by 1 September 2014.
Poor Goal: Start new blog for business
SMART Goal: To achieve an increase in repeat business, start new blog site to be posted to once per week highlighting benefits of our product. All customers to be emailed an RSS feed link with a monthly newsletter sent out highlighting posts for that month. Blog to be established in one month with a newsletter and email to go out at the end of month two.
Use a SMART goal strategy template to map out your strategy, turning your goal into achievable tasks that you work into your daily
I use a form of this template (and please email me if you would like the Word version), creating a project for each goal. While setting your SMART goals is easy to do, achieving them can be more difficult. The template will help you to:
- Outline your project and show how it aligns with your goal, business vision and mission.
- Create the strategy, scope and rationale for your project.
- Break your goal down into milestones and then into achievable tasks.
- Set a timeline for each milestone and task.
- Identify resources needed to complete the project.
Measure. When the timeframe is up, measure how you did. Did you achieve your SMART goal? If so, onwards and upwards … it’s time to set your next goal. You should always have a SMART goal you are working at achieving and the adventurous of you can now look at defining your short, medium and long term goals.
If you haven’t met your goal, worry not. Look at what you did achieve, was your goal realistic? Identify why you couldn’t meet your goal and redefine it with a new timeframe and criteria. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Rework and retry!! If you need a partner in crime, email me … I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in setting and achieving my own SMART goals and can work with you to help make your goals achievable.
What do you think? Are you setting goals, are you reaching them? What value do you place on this form of planning for your future milestones? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.
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