New year – new goals. Life is geared towards setting and achieving goals and what better time to set them than the beginning of a fresh new year! Goals are part of every aspect of life: how you conduct your relationships, what you want to achieve at work, the way you use your spare time… Everything comes down to priorities, and what you would ultimately like to accomplish.
If you do not set any goals, you become swept up in a series of happenings.. some good – some bad – but all out of your control, you become the plaything of coincidence.
You may or may not have heard of S.M.A.R.T goals, the acronym SMART has several slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition of goal setting:
S – specific, significant, stretching
M – measurable, meaningful, motivational
A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable
S.M.A.R.T. goal setting… lets break it down further….
S stands for Specific
What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you’ll get exactly that. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between ‘I want to be a millionaire’ and ‘I want to make $50.000 a month for the next ten years by creating a new software product’.
Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:
What exactly do I want to achieve?
What are the conditions and limitations?
Why exactly do I want to reach this goal? What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same?
M stands for Measurable
Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, is.
Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.
A stands for Attainable
Is your goal attainable? That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life.
If you don’t have the time, money or talent to reach a certain goal you’ll certainly fail and be miserable. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!
There’s nothing wrong with shooting for the stars; if you aim to make your department twice as efficient this year as it was last year with no extra labour involved, how bad is it when you only reach 1,8 times? Not too bad…
R stands for Relevant
Is reaching your goal relevant to you? Do you actually want to run a multinational, be famous, have three children and a busy job? You decide for yourself whether you have the personality for it, or your team has the bandwidth.
If you’re lacking certain skills, you can plan trainings. If you lack certain resources, you can look for ways of getting them. The main questions, why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?
You could think that having a bigger team will make it perform better, but will it really?
T stands for Timely
Time is money! Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a hellish race against time – which is most likely not how you want to achieve anything.
To quote renowned American philosopher and writer Elbert Hubbard……… “Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organised their energies around a goal.”
If you haven’t already, start setting your SMART goals TODAY! Download our free template Setting Smarter Goals in 7 Easy Steps