Setting goals, the SMART way

If you want real results, then you’ll have to set realistic and achievable goals. Using SMART goals can get you there. Read on to find out how to create SMART goals.

It’s a simple technique that orients organizations towards actionable objectives that produce consistent and impactful outcomes. No wonder so many businesses use SMART goals to get them where they want to go.

The good news is that any organization, including yours, can take advantage of it. Here’s an outline of the SMART process and best practices to help you get started:

But first, a quick shortcut

Our goal is to simplify things for you. That’s why we created a simple template that will help you set up your SMART goals. Download it here. It’ll teach you how to create SMART goals.

How to create SMART goals

SMART goals should be:

S for Specific

Goals should be crystal clear and focused on a particular result. By setting specific goals with defined outcomes, you’ll know exactly what you are working towards and how you’ll get there. Having clear, actionable goals can also give you an extra boost of motivation.

So what would specificity look like when setting SMART goals? Remember to take some time to thoroughly ask questions and get into details around your goals.

  • What is your objective?
  • Who is responsible?
  • When should the task be completed?
  • What steps can you take to achieve this goal?

M for Measurable

Once you’ve defined your goals, think about how to quantify the results. Measurability makes it easier to keep tabs on progress and inform others when you have successfully reached your goal.

Technically, you may be on the path to solid results, but you should work with numbers to track progress. Here, you’ll set a measure to understand whether you’ve actually met a goal tied to quantifiable data, including targets or milestones.

How can you create measurable goals? Here are some prompts:

  • What is the target value?
  • How will you know with certainty when this goal is accomplished?
  • Is there more than one way to measure the success strategy? 

A for Attainable

Ambitious people love to set high goals, but setting them too high can result in feelings of defeat or even failure. Remember, goals should always be realistic. It’s essential to consider the current scale and scope of the business objectives. 

When you’re not sure if a goal is attainable or not, take a step back, and evaluate the specificity and previous measures to help you decide. Now is the time for a reality check and you should consider any potential setbacks that might be impeding your goal.

Here are some additional prompts to help you set attainable goals:

  • Is our goal achievable in an established timeline?
  • Do we have the appropriate resources and capacity to accomplish our goal?
  • Is there anything we need to clarify before we can begin work on this goal?
  • What will it actually take to get this done?

 R for Relevance 

Relevance is comparing the individual result and outcome with the overall objectives of the team or organization. Consider any changes in the business situation, challenges facing the business model, or even budget constraints that may impede achieving the goal. 

When a goal is not relevant given the current business climate, consider postponing it or discarding it entirely if it’s deemed unimportant to overarching business needs.

To determine the relevancy of a goal, consider the following prompts:

  • Is this in line with overarching business objectives?
  • Are workload and resources justified given the current business climate?
  • Are our goals reasonable given company and organizational needs?
  • How will the goal support the long-term vision?

T for Time-based

Great goals should be tied to a specific timeline. If you have established measures to determine success, specify when you want to achieve those values. This makes goal tracking and proper assessment possible.

Goals shouldn’t linger and extend indefinitely–making them time-bound means that all participants are focused on staying on track. Considering limitations, resources, and viability, the timeline should align to when it would be useful or even necessary to complete the task. 

Here are some questions to help you establish an appropriate timeline:

  • If the goal is achieved, when will it be most relevant?
  • What is the soonest possible date for us to complete this goal?
  • When do we need this task done to have the best result?

Now go and get SMART

SMART has been proven time and time again to be a valuable way to set up goals. The approach is specifically designed to help leaders, managers, and you focus on the most well-defined, actionable, and relevant goals.

Now you know how to create SMART goals. Once you get more familiar with the SMART process, you can quickly distill your goals into a sentence or two using this formula. Good luck!