Creating SMART Goals
Once you’ve clearly defined and described your mission, values, and vision, it’s time to assemble the building blocks that will enable you to get there. Those building blocks are your SMART goals. These goals are the concrete steps you and your organization need to take in order to make your vision, values, and mission a reality.
So, let’s break down SMART in SMART goals:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
The first component to keep in mind is that your goals need to be specific. Specific goals enable you to really focus your efforts to achieve each one. When you sit down to write your goals, try to answer questions like:
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- How am I hoping to achieve it?
- When would I like to achieve it?
- Who will help me achieve it?
- Where am I best suited to achieve it?
It’s critical that your goals are measurable. When your goals are measurable, you’re able to track your progress and celebrate milestones. Make sure you decide how you will measure yourself, or how you’ll equip your organization/leaders/stakeholders to measure progress. For example, will there be a checklist of skills proficiencies to be completed by a certain date? Is there a revenue goal that can be broken down by month or quarter to measure success? Setting milestones will also enable you to course-correct or switch gears to ensure you’re staying on the right path.
This one seems obvious, but it’s important to set attainable goals. We want you to aim high and set goals that will propel you on your path to success. But we don’t want you to set yourself or your team up for failure by setting goals that are too lofty or complex. Be sure that the goals you’re setting are realistic, taking into consideration time, personnel, financial, and other resources or constraints. If you set a goal that you or your team deem to be out of reach, evaluate the possibility of breaking that big goal down into several smaller goals that are attainable in your situation.
Next, let’s talk about relevant goals. When a goal is relevant, it contributes to your larger vision, feels in line with your values, and supports your mission. It’s also important to consider the timing of your goals within the larger context of your life or business. Is this the right goal to set right now, and am I the right person to work toward it? Make sure your goals are worthwhile and matter in the grand scheme of things.
The last element to consider is that your goals are time-bound. Give yourself or your team a target date. This will encourage prioritization and provide motivation to get things done. Maybe you’ve set a goal that you hope to accomplish in 6 months. Great! But consider breaking it down even further — in order to accomplish the big goal in 6 months, what needs to be completed 1 month from now, at the halfway point, etc. These sub-goals can be very helpful in ensuring you don’t lose sight of your bigger goals in the hurry of the day-to-day.
Before You Start
Keep in mind the following:
- Be ambitious: The purpose of goal-setting is to motivate us to dig deeper, achieve more, and propel our business or life forward. So when it’s time to transform the goals you’ve kept in your mind to concrete goals on paper, remember to be ambitious. While you don’t want to overwhelm yourself or your team with unattainable goals, setting one Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) can be a gamechanger for your organization, especially if you are specific and realistic about the timeframe and resources required.
- Be imaginative: Of course, you want your goals to be relevant to your business. But it’s important to keep an open mind about the possibilities for change and transformation in the future. Take some time during this process to flip things on their heads, to think in creative ways, and to bounce ideas off of people whose opinions and insights matter most to you.
- Be flexible: One of the criticisms of goal-setting is that it can be a limiting practice, forcing organizations and individuals to zero-in on certain opportunities to the point that they miss out on new ones. This is why flexibility is critical when you begin to write your SMART goals. Recognize that the landscape is always changing, customers’ needs may change, your own personal values and priorities may change, and that’s all okay. Write goals that are specific, but not so specific that they’re restrictive, and plan to revisit your goals and write new ones regularly.
- Be open: Introspection is an important part of goal-setting, but it doesn’t end there. A critical part of writing goals and achieving those goals is the collaboration and accountability you share with others. If you’re setting goals for your organization, share them widely among your leaders and team members. If you’re setting goals for your personal life, share them with the people who love and support you. Your chances of success increase exponentially when you are open and honest about what you hope to achieve.