Whether you’re a new business start-up or an existing business trying to get yourself back on track, you will understand the importance of setting up goals. Motivation can be a great catalyst to begin working on targets you’ve set out for yourself. However, if your targets are not clear and not carefully considered then your efforts may go to waste.
Setting SMART goals can be extremely beneficial in bringing clarity to your ideas and using your time in a productive way. Setting targets in this way will bring you one step closer to achieving what you want in business or life more generally.
This article will guide you through what makes up SMART targets and how they can be used in practice.
What is SMART?
SMART is a useful acronym that can serve as a guide for how to create goals. To ensure that your goals are reachable and clear, you should ensure that they are:
- Specific – This means that the goals are simple and clear.
- Measurable – This requires your goals to be assessable so that you can see clear progress.
- Achievable – Your goals should not be unrealistic.
- Relevant – targets should be of significant importance to yourself or your company.
- Time-bound – there should be deadlines on goals to keep those involved with them on track.
Some also include E and R to make SMARTER goals to reflect the importance of evaluating and readjusting your goals.
How Are SMART Goals Used?
This first step is of utmost importance in order to ensure that your pursuits do not lack focus. Being specific with your goals will also help in keeping you motivated on the task at hand as you will be certain of what it is you want to achieve and will be able to brainstorm better how to get there. In doing so you should consider the five W’s. For example, what do you want to accomplish? Why is it important? Who is responsible for carrying out this task? Where is best to carry out these objectives? Which resources do you have available?
For example, if you wanted to make social media engagement higher on your social media platforms, a specific goal might be “I want to increase the amount of social media content I produce to get more engagement on LinkedIn”.
Having goals that you can analyse and measure is essential in ensuring you can track progress. This will in turn increase motivation as you see yourself progress closer and closer to achieving your goal. Measurable should support you in being able to answer key questions such as “how much?” and “how many”.
For example, if your goal was to increase sales by 10% over a month. You would be able to measure progress on track to this by seeing how many sales you’ve done week by week.
The third part of setting up SMART goals is making sure that your goals are realistic. Setting yourself an unrealistic goal can be very tempting when wanting to obtain a massive achievement for yourself. However, the downside is that there is a high likelihood that these won’t be achievable which may dampen your motivation and cause you to give up.
For example, a goal for yourself might be to become a fully qualified dentist, However, in order to do so, you would first have to analyse whether you have the right experiences and qualifications to do so. If the answer is no, a more realistic goal might be something like “I want to study to go to dental school”.
This step is all about making sure that you pick the right goals. This means that the goals you choose to pursue are important to you and are a priority. A relevant goal will be worthwhile and carried out at the right time. If you a part of a team such as within a business, you may question the relevance of a goal by considering whether you are the best person to go about achieving the targets set.
An example of making relevant goals might be, for example, getting better at speaking a foreign language for a specific business opportunity abroad.
Finally, any goal you set should have a deadline. By setting deadlines on your goals, you will be able to stay focused on the task better and will be able to prioritise other goals and objectives around this deadline. Time relevancy will be determined by whether your goals are short or long term. Short term goals can be achieved within weeks or even hours whereas long term goals can take as long as several years.
An example of a time relevant goal might be something like “I want to increase profits by 15% in 6 months.
What are the Benefits and Drawbacks
The benefits involved with creating SMART goals is that it can help provide a clear and focused way of achieving what you want and can aid you in providing motivation in knowing what you need to do to get the job done. These targets are also easy to adopt by anyone in any position and can be adapted for any goal you wish to achieve. Some people may believe that a drawback of smart targets is that they lack flexibility which can be an issue when making long term goals. This is because long term goals often have to change as unforeseen circumstances may come up which make the original target unachievable.
Why is it So Important to Set Goals
Goals are essential in maintaining motivation and keeping yourself or a company on task. However, often people will set themselves up for failure by setting goals that are too general or unrealistic. For example, any goal that sounds like “ I want to be the best at…” or “I want to master..”. Goals such as this will leave you with no clear direction in your pursuit and will ultimately cause you more stress in the long run where you are too slow in your progression towards the goal or ultimately give up realising you are not best suited to achieving what you set out.
On the other hand, SMART goals are perfect in that they set you up for success and push you further. They also give you a proper sense of direction and allow you to organize your goals effectively.
Choosing the Right Scope
Smart targets can be used to address any major responsibilities. You should remember that goals are intended to focus attention on things that are the most important to you so you should prioritise your goals as such. Common types of goals are to:
- Increase something by a certain amount
- Reduce something
- Save something
- Develop something
SMART Goal Examples
YouTube Video View Goal
- Specific – I aim to boost our YouTube content views by narrowing our focus on our most popular 3 topics.
- Measurable – We aim to increase viewership by 20%.
- Attainable – Our most popular topics have an average increase in viewership of 15% which is why we will only focus on these 3.
- Relevant – Increasing our viewership on YouTube will be important in increasing our brand awareness which may lead to more sales and viewership on linking social media platforms.
- Time-bound – We would like to achieve this goal in 6 months.
Blog Content Goal
- Specific – I would like to increase the frequency of which blogs are published on my site by posting 2 each day throughout the 5 working weekdays. I will do this by splitting the workload with my work colleague, dedicating 2 hours a day each for our individual blogs.
- Measurable – By publishing 2 blog posts each day, we will have 10 new blog posts each week.
- Attainable – By splitting the workload amongst my colleague and myself we will be able to increase our output much easier.
- Relevant– By increasing our blog content output, we will be able to increase brand awareness and better reflect our brand’s values through our choice of content.
- Time-bound – By posting 10 each week we should have 40 by the end of the month.
The Importance of Evaluating and Readjusting Your Goals – SMARTER Goals
Some believe that you should add the values of evaluating and readjusting your goals in order to make the larger acronym of SMARTER goals. Evaluating is important in goal making as if you evaluate your goals on a consistent basis you will be much more likely to achieve them. This is definitely true for long term goals as they can be easily forgotten about if they are not reflected upon on a daily basis.
Readjusting is also an important tool when creating goals. This is because often when you first create a goal, you may fail to foresee potential pitfalls and roadblocks that come about making the goals less achievable. By readjusting your goals, you can maintain your motivation and decrease levels of stress when things don’t go to plan.
Apply the SMART Method Today!
Knowing this method will allow you to create clear and achievable goals for whatever you chose to pursue. So try it for yourself, create a goal and test it against the key factors of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need any advice or want some support in setting up your new goal strategy. Click here to discover more.