Goal setting (and achieving them) can be HARD; there is a reason why, for example, new years resolutions are so difficult to stay true to. In this way, a key to personal development in all areas of life is effective goal setting and keeping. One technique for setting more realistic, attainable, and successful goals is the SMART goals template.
First coined in 1981, George T. Doran created the idea of SMART as a mnemonic acronym for creating goals and objectives. SMART can be applied to all areas of life; your career, personal development, employee management, family life etc.
When setting goals, we often have big, unrealistic expectations, and may put too much pressure on ourselves. Using this method, we can make more realistic, concise and achievable goals that we are more likely to succeed at.
What Does SMART Goals Stand For?
The SMART criterion is an acronym that means the following;
Specific: Your goals should be clear so you can keep focused.
Measurable: Make sure you can track your progress.
Attainable: Is your goal genuinely possible to achieve?
Relevant: Your goal should be something important to you.
Time-based: Define your goal time frame and pick a deadline.
Specific (Or Strategic)
In short, choose a specific area to work on, making your purpose as clear as possible. To help with this section, think about the following questions:
- What precisely are you hoping to accomplish as an end result?
- Is anyone else needed to help you attain your objective?
- What is the significance of this objective?
- What resources or constraints are at play?
If you are a manager or making goals including other people, think about who is responsible for each specific objective.
M stands for measurable – meaning you need to be able to track your progress. Giving yourself deadlines and targets can help you stay motivated and allow you to plan your time accordingly.
Ask yourself when you want your end goal achieved, in how many days, weeks, months etc. Then, set mini-deadlines or dates to assess your progress. Using a calendar or to-do list can help with this.
Achievable (Or Attainable)
While it’s encouraged to be ambitious, it’s also worthwhile being realistic with your SMART goals. If you set yourself unrealistic expectations, you are only setting yourself up for failure!
To be effective, your goals must also be practical and attainable.
Consider the following:
- Whether your goal is something you can fairly achieve.
- Do you have the resources required to fully attain your goal?
- What roadblocks may prevent you from achieving your goal?
- If your goals aren’t achievable, think about what it would take to make them achievable.
This stage not only ensures that your SMART goal is important to you, but also that it aligns with your other goals and life plan. You are more likely to bring passion to a goal if it is something YOU want to achieve and is relevant in your life.
For example, for professional goal setting in companies, how is the SMART goal aligned with your company values? How will it help your business grow?
Every goal you set should have a deadline! With a target date for goal completion, you continuously have something to aim toward and a timescale to focus on. Having a time-bound goal also allows you to plan micro-goals along the way to maintain motivation.
Remember to consider the A of SMART goals again when considering a deadline; set achievable deadlines to avoid unnecessary stress and burnout.
SMART Goals Examples
Here are some examples that demonstrate how to write SMART goals.
For example, maybe your goal is to get a new qualification. In that case, the following goal would be:
Specific: I would like to get an NLP qualification.
Measurable: This goal is measurable by achieving a specific NLP Practitioner Certificate.
Attainable: This course is 50 hrs of work, and I can do 5 hours per week, which is achievable with my current schedule.
Relevant: This goal will help me in my long term plans and goals.
Time-based: I want to achieve this qualification in the next 3 months.
Your goal can now be summed up as; I will get an NLP Practitioner Certificate in the next 3 months, working 5 hrs a week towards it.
Another SMART goal example; wanting to secure a new job.
Specific: I am going to become an office manager earning £30k per year.
Measurable: I will apply for a minimum of 6 jobs over the next month.
Attainable: I have experience and qualifications in this job area.
Relevant: My current job does not allow me to grow and a pay rise would allow me more time with my family.
Time-based: I will apply for 6 jobs over the next month, and aim for a job interview in the next 6 weeks.
Your goal can now be summed up as; I will get a new job as an office manager in 6 weeks by sending off at least 6 job applications over the next month.