Setting goals is an important key to personal or professional progress. Many people often talk about goals, but never go through the process to think through how to achieve their goals, much less write their goals down. Sometimes our goals are too abstract or lofty. Sometimes they are too small and easily attainable. That is why SMART goals are so powerful.
The reality is that a goal is not really a goal….until you do something very intentional about it.
“Goals are dreams with deadlines.” Diana Scharf Hunt
What is a SMART goal?
A SMART goal is an action oriented goal that is Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Results Oriented, and Time Bound.
Instead of simply writing a goal of “I will become a freelance writer,” a SMART has specific components that force you to be intentional in your actions.
Creating SMART goals takes practice. You have to have thought about your purpose and your goal in order to create it. To write a concrete SMART goal, you need to know what success will look like. You also need to know what road blocks or obstacles there might be in your way.
Questions to ask yourself when writing SMART goals
What will the goal accomplish? How? Why?
What are at least two indicators that will measure whether the goal has been reached?
Do you have the necessary information, knowledge, or skills to accomplish the goal? What resources will you need to help you?
What is the benefit of accomplishing the goal? What will happen as a result of achieving the goal?
Is there a sense of urgency to complete the goal?
Try Writing Your Own SMART Goal
The easiest examples of SMART goals are in environments where you are looking to increase achievement, participation, or a specific rate.
Here are a few possible examples of SMART goals that might help get you started.
Instead of saying, I will improve my half marathon time in 2013 (although it is results oriented, it is not very time bound), I could say, I will improve my half marathon performance by at least five minutes by February 2013. I could also write a SMART goal for improving over two races: I will improve my half marathon time by five minutes during my first 2013 half marathon and by ten minutes during my second 2013 half marathon.
Saying I will become a freelance writer is not specific or measurable or time bound. On the other hand, ”I will send queries to at least five online magazine editors by January 2013″ is measurable provides a target that is attainable and yet still challenging, and is time bound.
We all create goals in our mind. But the act of thinking intentionally about what it will look like, how we will achieve it, and what needs to be in place to make us successful is an important part of making it concrete enough to achieve. The difference between a regular goal and a SMART goal is the process of thinking through the process, and creating a concrete work plan with steps that will assist you in achieving your goal.
What about you? What SMART goal would you set out to achieve?