If you’re going to set goals you want to do everything you can to increase your chances of success realizing those goals. All goals are not created equal; the way that you frame and format your goals can help improve the quality of the goals you set. Using the SMART goal setting process brings consistency and structure to your goals to ensure that you have a clear objective and that you’re set up to succeed.
To make your goals clear and reachable each one should be SMART, meaning each one should be:
- Specific – be specific about what you want to accomplish
- Measurable – measures you use to determine if you’ve met the goal
- Achievable – the goal is attainable
- Relevant – makes sense with the broader business goals and the goal matters
- Time bound – what is the deadline for the goal and the checkpoints along the way
Create goals that specifically define what it is that you want to accomplish. A goal of wanting to increase revenue by 10% is much better than just broadly saying that you want to do more business this year. Being specific about what your objective is will help you be more focused on your approach. Consider the common ‘w’ questions: who, what, when, where and why.
How will you know when you’ve met your goal? You need to define what success looks like and what metrics you’re going to use to measure success. Defined numbers will help you know if you’re on track. If it is a larger project put in milestones of specific tasks to accomplish and targets to hit by the defined milestones. For example, if you want to increase your membership by 1,000 break down if that means that you will need to hit at least 400 members by the six month mark to be able to reach your end goal.
It can do more harm than good to set unrealistic goals, because those set you up for failure and are demoralizing. It is okay to dream big, but it should be a realistic goal that is actually attainable. If you aren’t sure whether a goal is attainable look at your organization’s past performance to see if it has ever been done before as well as trends within the industry and the economy.
Any goal that you set should make sense and able to be connected to the broader business goals. Think about whether the goal you’re setting seems like a worthwhile use of your time and resources, if you’re the right person to accomplish this goal and if it is the right time for the organization.
Establish set timelines and deadlines for the goal as a whole as well as the time needed to complete the tasks that are required to accomplish goal. Setting time constraints creates a sense of urgency around the project but the timing also needs to be realistic.