Everyone has goals in life that they want to achieve either in their personal or professional lives. But once you have set a goal, how do you achieve it?
Continue reading for everything you need to know about SMART goals and the steps you can take to help achieve yours.
What is a SMART goal?
So you know what a goal is, but what is a SMART goal?
SMART is an acronym first termed by George T. Doran in 1981 that helps you narrow down the steps that are necessary for helping you to achieve your goal.
The SMART acronym stands for the following criteria:
- Specific: You have a clear and concise goal you are working towards.
- Measurable: You have particular criteria that help measure progress and how close you are to attaining your goal.
- Achievable: Your goal is realistic and is not impossible to reach.
- Realistic: It is an attainable goal and fits into your life plan.
- Timely: Your goal has a clear time frame which includes a beginning and due date to help create a sense of urgency. This allows you to implement efficient time management processes to achieve your goal.
What is a specific SMART goal?
Now that you know what a SMART goal is, it is essential to take it a step further and make it a specific SMART goal. Specific SMART goals have a much higher chance of actually being achieved.
To create a specific SMART goal, the following five «W» questions need to be considered:
- Who: Who is part of the goal?
- What: What exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Where: Where is this goal going to take place and be achieved?
- When: When do you want to accomplish this goal?
- Why: Why do you want to succeed with this goal?
An example of a specific SMART goal is «I want to lose weight.»
To make this a specific SMART goal, it would be «I want to become a member of the gym down the block from my home and work out five days a week to get in better shape.»
Why are SMART goals important?
SMART goals are essential, as they help you focus on what you want to achieve and create a step-by-step plan on how to achieve them.
In fact, some research found that 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, created a step-by-step plan and did weekly check-ins with a friend achieved their goals. That is 33% higher than those who didn’t.
How do you create a SMART goal?
There are five steps you can take to create your SMART goal-setting plan. Here’s a detailed description of these steps to help put you on the path to reaching your goals.
When writing your SMART goals, being as clear as possible is vital.
For example, if you work in the marketing industry, your job post likely centers around key performance indicators (KPIs).
In this case, you may want to choose a specific KPI or metric to improve. This improvement can include anything from visitors, leads or customers.
You also want to write down the names of team members working with you to achieve this goal.
Implement measurable goals
One key feature of SMART goals is that they should be measurable.
This is important as you need to be able to track your progress to see if the path you are currently on is working or not.
For example, instead of saying that you want to increase the traffic to your site by a certain date, be more specific and say you want to increase traffic by 25% by that date.
This way, you have a specific goal to measure your progress by.
Set realistic and achievable goals
An achievable goal takes into consideration the probability that you can actually achieve it.
It is imperative to choose relevant goals based on your own stats and not industry benchmarks so that they are realistic and achievable for you.
For example, if you wanted to increase your website traffic and have been seeing an increase of 5%, an achievable goal would be to increase traffic by eight to 10% rather than 25%.
This way, you are setting a realistic goal and not just setting yourself up for failure.
Choose goals that fit your life plan
Choosing personal goals that fit into your life plan or business goals to help with your professional development is crucial.
Choosing goals that help promote a healthy work-life balance and fit into your overall life plan is important.
Choosing your own smart goals relevant to your lifestyle helps narrow your goals and makes you more aware of the factors you need to consider when figuring out what steps to take to achieve them.
Goals should be time-bound with a clear start and end date
A time-based SMART goal helps keep you on track and allows you to easily track progress toward your goal. When writing smart goals, it is vital to track your progress, which puts just enough pressure on yourself to accomplish them.
For example, instead of saying you want to increase traffic to your website by 8-10% each month, you would say you want to increase traffic by 8-10% and reach 70,000 visitors by the end of June.
4 Steps to help achieve your goals
There is no point in having a goal if you have no idea how to accomplish it. Once you’ve defined your goal, there are a few steps to take to help you stay on track.
A few reasons why SMART goals are important are because they:
- Help you create a clear goal rather than a vague one.
- They provide a way to track your progress toward your goal.
- They provide realistic and achievable objectives to work towards.
- They help reduce unnecessary steps that can waste time and take you farther from your goal.
- They help set a clear start and end date for achieving your goal.
1. Write your goals down
Writing down your goals and placing them somewhere you can regularly see them is crucial. If your goal includes team members, put it somewhere everyone can see it regularly.
Putting your goal down in writing helps make it more real and is an excellent reminder of what you are working towards.
2. Share your goals with others
When you share your goal with other people, it helps keep you accountable and enables you to avoid procrastination.
Once you have shared it with someone else, it is like committing yourself to work hard to achieve your goal. Just make sure that the people you share your goals with are supportive and will provide the encouragement you need instead of making you second guess yourself.
3. Track your progress regularly
It is crucial to track your progress regularly. If it is a short-term goal, you may want to have a daily or weekly check-in to see how you are doing.
If it is a long-term goal you are working towards, you may want to constantly check in at the end of the month to see how you are progressing.
Depending on the time frame of your goal and who is involved, you may even want to have a check-in at the end of the year to see how things are progressing. Regular check-ins can help keep you on track and redirect you if your current work isn’t working. It is better to figure out what isn’t working sooner rather than later so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
4. Celebrate your accomplishments
When you accomplish a step toward your goal, celebrate it. You don’t need to wait until your entire goal has been accomplished to celebrate your achievements.
If you notice you are making significant progress when you complete one of your check-ins, you must acknowledge that milestone and realize that all your hard work is paying off.
What are some examples of SMART goals?
Whether it be in your work or personal life, there are always goals you want to achieve.
Here are a few SMART goal examples to help you model your professional and personal goals after.
You want to complete a specific work project
- Specific: You are experiencing much traffic from people on their mobile devices to your company website.
Unfortunately, your site isn’t very responsive on mobile devices and customers don’t have a good experience.
Your goal is to launch a mobile app by the end of the second quarter, which involves help from the software development, design and marketing teams.
- Measurable: Creating a mobile app may take a lot of time and resources.
To make it worth the time and money required, you want 60,000 people to install the app within six months of launching it.
- Achievable: All departments needed to create the app have signed on to help.
You can then focus on project management and set regular check-ins with all team members to ensure everyone is on the same page, that the workflow is running smoothly and that they are reaching their targets.
- Relevant: Being able to improve the customer experience for customers accessing your website on their mobile devices is the number one goal of your company by the end of next year.
- Time-Bound: To achieve 60,000 app installs within six months of launching, the app needs to be launched by June and an aggressive marketing campaign put in place that continues until the end of the year.
You want to improve your grades
- Specific: You received a failing grade on your last math exam.
To raise your grade, you need to improve your work with fractions.
You need to raise your grade in the next two months to pass the class.
- Measurable: Within two months, you need to be able to multiply and divide fractions.
You should be able to correctly answer and show your work regarding any questions you receive on an exam related to fractions.
- Achievable: Multiplying and dividing fractions is essential to passing the class and advancing your academic career.
You can hire a tutor and set time aside daily to work on multiplying and dividing fractions to help improve your skill set. You can also ask fellow students for help if needed.
- Relevant: Passing math is required to progress to the next step of your academic career.
You are working hard towards your academic goals and need to pass math to achieve your end goal.
- Time-Bound: In two months, you should be able to multiply and divide fractions with minimal to no errors.
You want to be comfortable working with fractions to pass the class easily.
You want to improve your health
- Specific: Your doctor suggested you lose weight to help lower your blood pressure. They have recommended you add physical exercise to your daily routine to lose 10 pounds.
You want 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise daily to help you lose 10 pounds in two months.
- Measurable: Within two months, you want to lose 10 pounds and reach your daily exercise goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity.
To help keep you on track, you will log your daily activity in a journal and do weekly weigh-ins.
- Achievable: Being able to lose 10 pounds and lower your blood pressure is essential to your physical well-being.
You will add 30 minutes of physical exercise every day by taking a brisk walk at lunch in the park close to your workplace.
- Relevant: Losing 10 pounds and increasing your daily physical activity is critical in helping to lower your blood pressure.
You are working hard to improve your health and overall well-being and need to lower your blood pressure.
- Time-Bound: In two months, you want to have lost 10 pounds, added 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise to your daily routine and lowered your blood pressure.
You want to be more physically fit and on your way to a healthier life.
SMART goals can be life-changing
Implementing SMART goals can help you focus on the things in life that matter to you.
Taking the time to identify your goals and incorporate the steps above to create your own SMART action plan is key.
By simply defining your goals, creating a step-by-step plan to achieve them and putting in the hard work needed, you can be well on your way to achieving your SMART goals and changing your life for the better.
Check out Entrepreneur’s other guides and articles for more information about creating and achieving your own SMART goals.