Do you know people who talk about their goals but rarely achieve them? Do you have friends you admire who always seem to accomplish important things?
For me, the most important concept in goal setting and goal achieving is the use of “S.M.A.R.T.” goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Specific.
Specific goals are defined so clearly that everyone can understand them with no ambiguity. Example: “I will send that proposal by 4:00 p.m. Friday the 13th.” With this level of specificity, there is never a question about whether the goal is achieved or not.
Measurable goals include metrics so we have an exact target. In the above example, 4:00 p.m. is the metric. Another example is: “My goal is to increase my number of clients by 15 percent in the next 12 months.” The 15 percent is precise and measurable. (Note that this could be even stronger. See the example under “Time Specific.”)
A SMART goal must be the right size so action can be taken successfully. If it is too big to be possible, discouragement can prevent progress. Small gains are often vital indicators of progress, which can build enthusiasm for more progress. Some people advocate ambitious goals, and that is excellent. When we are stuck, setting smaller, easily achievable goals can often get us unstuck.
A relevant goal means it is useful and contributes to your progress. It is consistent with your priorities.
Note: For organizations, this “Relevant” is sometimes changed to “Responsible Person.” That means that every goal has a person responsible for it. For us independent professionals, WE are often that responsible person. So it’s vital that the goal helps us move in our best direction and does not detract, therefore it is “relevant” to our mission.
This is hugely important. Every SMART goal must have a specific time designated for completion. Without this, action could be postponed and the goal goes unmet. In the example above, we could strengthen the statement by saying: “My goal is to increase my number of clients by 15 percent by May 17, 2013.” There is something very powerful about a specific date.
I’ll bet those friends of yours whom you admire for accomplishing important things set SMART goals for themselves and make the commitment to complete them on time.
I would love to hear your stories of how you set and achieve goals.