What are SMART goals?
SMART goals have built-in characteristics that will make achieving them possible and rewarding. Each goal should be:
- Specific. Each goal should be so clear that you cannot mistake what you are stating you will accomplish. This way you will have a higher chance of accomplishing it.
- Measurable. You need to know when you have successfully accomplished your goal.
- Attainable. Make sure that the specific goal and outcomes are both achievable and realistic so that you believe you can do it.
- Relevant. The goal needs to be something that matters to you, something that is worthwhile accomplishing.
- Timely. Only when you have a deadline or date for completing the goal will you be able to create a time line for accomplishing it.
Transforming a Goal into a SMART Goal
Here is a simple example of a non-SMART family goal transformed into a SMART goal:
- Goal: Spend more quality time with my children.
- SMART Goal: I will spend at least fifteen minutes every night with each child reading together, starting this month.
Here’s an example of how one of my clients turned a business goal into a SMART goal to help her achieve what was important for her to make her gym successful:
- Goal: Have nine hundred gym members.
- SMART Goal: Increase membership by 30 percent, to nine hundred members, by the end of the year.
SMART goals will help you clarify what you need to do by when. They will help you hold yourself, and those around you, accountable for achieving the goals. Having SMART goals also allows you to perform interim analysis to assess how you are tracking against your goals throughout the year.
Having goals alone in not enough, though. It is important that the activities that you spend time on each day bring you closer to achieving your goals. After you’ve developed your SMART goals, break them down into actionable steps and add them to your calendar or task management system. After all, as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” What gets planned, gets done.
In the example given previously, where your goal is to spend fifteen minutes every night reading to each child, some of the specific tasks related to that SMART goal might be:
- Eat dinner earlier so that you have more reading time.
- Leave work by a certain time so that you can make it home in time to read to the kids.
- Go to the library once a week to get new books.
Decide what is important at a given time, develop your goals, and make them happen.