SMART goals are a powerful and effective tool to reach your targets and achieve your long-term dream and vision.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T speaks for itself as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely demonstrating the pillars or parameters of SMART goals.
Setting up SMART goals, whether to run a successful business, time management, or even in your personal growth, is a crucial step and not less than your first win right there.
It makes your foundation strong and more approachable towards achieving something. Especially if you are serious about achieving your targets, a SMART goal is an inescapable step in your process.
But many professionals and organizations struggle to set up their SMART goals, mostly because of the lack of information and awareness about it.
And that’s why we’re here to guide you through setting up your SMART goal with every aspect covered before you get into it.
What Does SMART Mean?
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It is a framework used to create effective goals and objectives.
SMART goals are specific, have a measurable outcome, are achievable and realistic, are relevant to the broader goal, and are time-bound with a deadline.
This approach helps ensure that goals are clear, achievable, and meaningful and that progress can be accurately tracked and evaluated.
What are SMART goals?
The S.M.A.R.T in the SMART goals is an abbreviation that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
When you define these particular parameters as they contribute to the decision-making of your goal, you tend to get better results.
These parameters ensure that your objective must be achievable, very specific, relevant to your long-term goals, and bound within a certain time frame.
This approach towards setting your goals eliminates any possibilities of guesswork and generalities and makes your goals more time-restrained.
SMART goals also allow you to track the progress of your goals. You will actually be able to define what progress looks like when you set a SMART goal.
SMART Goal Example
Let’s take the example of Jerry. He runs a very small design firm with his team of 4-5 members remotely.
Last year, he wanted to set an intention, a goal for the next year, including his team.
So, he said it out loud to his team :
“We are going to earn a lot of money this year.”
But it was very vague. Even though it does motivate the team to move forward but not to a particular result, hence, they went all over the place.
But this year, as it ends, he went for setting up a S.M.A.R.T. goal more specific, time-bound, and relevant to their long-term goals.
Since he wants to generate high revenue, to invest more to set up his company on a larger scale, so his goal focused on generating profits.
So this time, he says-
“Our goal is to generate 20,000 USD in this year from Jan 2022- 2023 with my dedicated team by getting at least 2 high-paying clients every month.”
Above, if you look at his first two primary statements, the first one is quite vague, more like just an intention or dream, not a goal, far from a SMART goal.
The next one gives you a quantifiable goal to achieve ( 20,000 USD), then a time frame ( Jan 2022- Jan 2023), steps needed to take ( getting high-paying clients every month), and people who are included ( the team).
Also, since one wants to earn money this year, which is his or her long-term goal, this particular SMART goal is also highly relevant.
He also further added, “We aim to generate high-profits, more focussed towards fewer number clients but high-paying.”
“Only exception will be when the return on investment on any client is higher than 50% of time and money spent on it.”
So this gives into more of the relevancy, specification, and achievability aspect of the S.M.A.R.T goal.
So here’s how it is usually structured:
My/Our goal is to ( quantifiable target) on/by ( time frame/deadline) with the help of ( team/ key players/partners) by ( steps you need to take to achieve the goal).
When we accomplish this goal, it will give/be ( result, benefit, relevancy to long-term goal)
How To Write SMART Goals?
If you want to make your goal more effective and prevent any guesswork and vagueness, you need to make it more specific.
Specific goals must entail the answers the questions like :
- What exactly needs to be done?
- Who is involved?
- What particular tasks or steps needed to be taken?
If your goal answers all these questions, it is specific. Also, it makes your goals targeted to exactly what you are aiming for.
Specifying your goals makes it about what exactly you are going for, but then you need to quantify your goals to know whether you achieved them or not.
When you quantify your goals and make them measurable, you can determine their progress. You can tell how far you have come towards achieving it.
It makes the progress of goals easy to track. You will know when you have reached the finish line.
You need to set measurable and trackable benchmarks for the goal so you can analyze its’ progress and efficiency.
Specific, measurable goals also give you the ability to strategize as to meeting targets or milestones of these goals.
This is about giving yourself the reality check as to whether the goal you are setting, no matter how specific and measurable it is, how much realistic it seems to be.
Your goals need to be realistic and practical to achieve in the first place. If you are aiming too high, you must have the resources, skills, finance, and basic strategy to back it up.
With setting up S.M.A.R.T. goals, you need to be reasonable and rational. See whether you and your team are capable of accomplishing it at the given time.
To determine whether your goal is achievable, you need to realize what the goal really entails and what task and workload it involves.
Is there anything you can do to adjust your goal to make it more achievable?
You are allowed to be ambitious but in the realm of practicality and reason. Usually, you must have some leverage or advantage if you are short in one area.
For example, if you are setting up to do something in less time, then you must have plenty of willpower and resources.
Ensuring the achievability of the goal becomes even more tricky if it is coming from somewhere else, maybe from your client, administration, or seniors.
In that case, make sure you communicate with your team members and seniors both ways to evaluate and re-confirm the achievability of the set goals.
Relevance of the goal is about thinking about the big picture. So, it is a basic question you need to ask why you are setting the goal that you’re setting.
What do you aim to achieve in the long term by setting up this particular goal?
Make sure the goal you are setting is a part of your long-term strategy. It should move your forward toward a specific prolonged strategy or vision.
Definitely, the most important aspect of your SMART goal is setting a time limit for it.
Without deciding a particular deadline or time frame to complete the task, you won’t be able to properly measure its success.
Also, without a set deadline, the goal can be easily pushed away for an indefinite time. Also, you won’t have any idea when you and your team will be able to finish it.
Time limitation is an essential SMART goal parameter to bring and keep everyone on track to meet the goal within a set deadline.
Explaining SMART Goals Using An Example
Let’s see an example where you run an e-commerce store with selected high-cost inventory. Your goal is to sell 50 products in one month.
Now, to really turn into a SMART goal, you need to evaluate this on the parameters of SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
So, here are the questions you need to ask yourself and make changes to your goal in order to make it a SMART goal.
Is Your Goal Specific?
You have decided to sell exactly 50 products in one month. So it is quite clear and specific. You know exactly what to do.
Also, it is very explainable to your team or employees. So it sticks to the first parameter of the SMART goal.
Is Your Goal Measurable?
Since the target is to sell 50 products in one month, which is quantifiable, you can see daily how many products you have sold so far.
So, definitely, it is measurable. To make it more measurable, you need to break it down into sub-goals that favor your chance to succeed.
In this case, to achieve 50 sales in one month, you at least or approx need to have 2 sales a day. This is your metric to track your daily progress.
If you average two sales per day with the number of days passing, chances are you will make it.
Is Your Goal Achievable?
You can have specific and measurable goals all set, but if it is not realistic and achievable, then there is no point.
So, here you need to practically think about how you will be able to sell 50 products a month. How many times have you done it before? Or how close have you been?
Also, what necessary steps are you taking to get better results? How confident and capable is your team, especially your sales team, about this goal?
Remember, this is a step where you can manage changes to your goal to make it more achievable.
If you are striving for consistency throughout the year, you can aim for an easier target, like 35 sales per month or 40.
Another way to decide is to find the average of the sales you generally make in a month and add some more to it to make it a little ambitious and not too easy.
Is Your Goal Relevant?
You need to assess the relevance and rationality of your goal. Why do you really need to do it? What long-term vision does it serve?
Will it be worth more than what you are making? How will you be able to market it? What is your marketing budget?
Are you willing to add more marketing budget for promotion? How much return on investment are you getting here with this goal?
You need to think about the long-term strategy of your business. Sometimes, there can be other problems that need to be resolved to make this goal work.
For example, maybe it is low-profit margins which is a problem for you, so maybe you would want to sell more volume or increase the profit margins.
So you have to put your goal in a three-dimensional situation involving all current dynamics.
Is Your Goal Time-Bound?
This is actually the most important question you need to ask about your goal. Goal setting is incomplete without setting a deadline.
And when it comes to SMART goals, you need to be more elaborative with your deadlines.
It is not just the time you need to set for completing the goal but also the milestones of tracking progress and deadlines for sub-tasks or sub-goals as well.
You have to lay out the whole timeline of your goal very carefully, time-restricting the different scenarios as well.
It is also to make sure whether the timeline sets with your ability to make it happen as well. Setting up a deadline is about making it realistic and achievable, just like your SMART goal.
You have to get assurance with the team you are working with and every person or process that is involved in it.
If a certain situation or process requires a particular time, you also need to put that in the account.
Why Is It Important To Set Goals?
Doran explains that the establishment of objectives and tracking the development of their progress on their action plans are critical steps for any organization and an integral part of their management process.
It very well defines the role of setting goals when it comes to growing an enterprise.
However, there is still a lot to unpack when one questions the significance of setting SMART goals.
What values do goals have in business management or corporation management? What is its role of it?
Goals play a significant role in the development of an individual as well as a corporation. It is critical on both levels.
The goat set was specifically designed to help companies to boost their performance and achieve their targets to grow exponentially.
Let’s explore the five primary reasons to set SMART goals :
Goals Encourage Action & Provoke Behaviour
Take the example of traveling.
If you want to travel but don’t know where and when to go and how long you are going to be away and with whom, possibilities are you will not be motivated enough to take necessary steps, and it will never escalate to be done.
But take another situation with the same example. Suppose you want to go to Japan in November with your spouse, and you have saved $2500 for the expenses so far.
You have the plan to save more before the time comes. Your spouse is also involved in the planning and helping you.
Well, in this, you are more likely to actually go to Japan because a series of actions have already been taken towards the goal.
Also, the goal is more specific, with little detail already figured out. With all this information, you are more inclined to continue in your effort to save money, plan and take further steps to go on vacation.
Not to forget, since you are involved with your spouse, she or he also acts as an accountability partner for you too to encourage you to move further with it.
According to a scientific study, active commitment directly impacts your ability to take action.
So the more little actions you take towards your goals, the higher your chances are there to actually go through it.
When you set goals, it evokes action and behavior towards it. You set your intention in a long-term commitment towards a target.
Goals Guide Your Focus
When you set your goals, it helps you to direct your focus on a singular path. It is what sets you in motion to move towards actually achieving it.
Even the biggest of goals can be achieved by creating more sub-goals or breaking your goals down into tasks.
It further shows the significance of setting goals in order to meet the target. When you create goals, it concentrates your focus on taking relevant action responsible for fulfilling the target.
Goals Help You Build & Sustain Momentum
This is basically the most powerful and effective aspect of setting goals. According to a study, the human brain is wired to seek completion.
So, when you identify a task to be completed, your brain tends to release dopamine which makes you feel good, and due to that dopamine hit, you want to repeat it again and again.
The brain seeks the same pleasure, so it strives to repeat the same process again and again.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it ‘Flow’. The state of consciousness that makes any experience very satisfying is called the flow state.
Have you ever felt so immersed in a task that you almost forget the time passed in between? Well, that’s the flow.
It is the height of your efficiency and deep involvement in your work with the extraordinary focus that people enjoy this experience.
Goals Help You Get Align With Your Long-Term Vision
When you are setting objectives to meet your big dreams, you are basically actualizing them into actionable steps and tasks to make it happen.
That’s the power of goal-setting, where it takes a dream and makes it tangibly possible in the world with required planning and action.
Setting up SMART goals also allows one to align with its own individual goals towards meeting its larger vision about them.
In the case of business or work, SMART goals help them to align their individual roles and achievements with the company’s long-term vision.
So, when your team members, employees or partners’ individual goals are aligned with the company’s larger vision, it tends to work for them as well as the company.
Setting Goals Is Crucial For Self-Leadership
Self-leadership is about defining what is important to you and building your character on the principles you set for your life, along with personal and professional development.
And creating goals helps you in building your self-leadership. It gives you an opportunity to achieve the set expectations that you have for yourself.
Not all the time, or most people don’t have a guide or counselor, so they have to be their own self-coach where goal setting becomes paramount in its development.
Tips For Smart Goals
Take Some Time To Reflect
Setting up a SMART goal is consuming in every way. So before you get into it, it is essential to clear your perspective on things.
Very often, you tend to get caught up in the circle of setting up goals and then running on the treadmill of day-to-day tasks to fulfill them.
You lack the perception, which often prevents you from seeing the long-term and the big picture. And that doesn’t work well with goal-setting.
So, take some time to reflect before setting up a goal and even in the middle of it, either way, to gain focus and clarity on things.
How To Reflect?
You have to see what has been working for you and what hasn’t before you take another step forward.
Look through your progress, the resources you have, skills, people, and where any of it is lacking or working.
Reflecting helps you to make your goals more purposeful. Also, when you reflect, you will be able to choose a certain goal that you resonate with.
It is not wise to set up multiple goals or too many of them. Some of them might be coming from some temporary fascination or emotional state, so you need to chip that away.
Some goals might have been outdated but still in your head, taking up all the space. To reflect and define what is meaningful to you and where you exactly want to move forward.
Align Your Goals With Your Values
To ensure that you always feel inspired and motivated towards your commitments regarding your goals, you need to see whether they align with your values.
If not, anytime soon, it will lose its interest and significance as a person is driven by their values, and if your goal doesn’t align with it, it doesn’t stay relevant anymore.
In fact, the stronger goals align with your deeper values and their connection to your long-term vision and dream.
One of the examples here could be that setting a goal to improve your physical fitness might be just not about being more healthy.
Rather it signifies and aligns with your deeper values, such as dedication, persistence, consistency, and commitment.
So it is something that you are going to enjoy the process even more than the outcome, so you care about it.
The same goes for setting other goals in your life. Hence, you must align your goals to your intrinsic values.
Make Sure To Write Down Your Goals
Writing down your goals in a well-detailed and laid-out manner is very important. It makes your goal more tangible to approach.
Putting it into words or better on paper, you are able to visualize it better. It is something to hold on to rather than mixed and vague thoughts in your mind.
Even better, make sure to put your goals in front of yourself, on a wall on your bulletin board, or on a desk.
It should be somewhere everyone can see, so they hold you accountable for completing it. You also become more careful about this commitment.
You can also put a note on your desktop to keep reminding you.
Mind The Sunk Cost Fallacy
If you are unaware of ‘The Sunk Cost Fallacy’, it might hinder your goal-setting and the journey of achieving it.
A cognitive bias encourages one to keep investing their time, effort, and energy into something that isn’t worthy based on their previous investments.
One of the classic examples to explain is a gambler putting the money every time to lose and knowingly continuing in the false hope of unlikely success.
Another common example is staying in a romantic relationship, knowing it is not ideal and not going anywhere or without a future.
So you have to watch out for the stubbornness of continuing a creative project even though it is inevitably going to fail or already fail.
It is about understanding when this ‘not giving up” mindset is needed and when it doesn’t when it is smart to back out or invest in things that work.
Share Your Goals With People Who Matter
Sharing your goal is a great way to set accountability. You become responsible for completing the task or achieving the set goal, not just in your eyes but in the eyes of the people who matter.
So it is better to share your goals with people who are really important to you. Someone in the eyes you don’t want to be let down.
It can be anyone, your spouse, your friend, or even the world itself, as you want to make yourself appear in a certain way to the world.
You can even find yourself in a community where like-minded people support each other. Ensure the person you share your goals with is supportive and encouraging.
Even when things get hard, they should not give up on you, even when you feel like it. They must be your emotional support.
Focus More On Process Less On Outcome
There is a term in sports psychology which is called post-Olympic blues. It is quite common for all those successful athletes who win big in the Olympics or just in their careers.
Those sportsmen tend to experience a major drop in their mood or motivation to move forward, even feeling quite depressed.
It always happens after going through a competition. They become so goal-oriented that they feel lost and do not feel invested without it. Worse, they forget to enjoy sports altogether.
Why Focus On The Process?
This is also very common with people in business and other spectrums, where they are so focused on the outcomes that they forget to enjoy the process.
It also makes them too much relied on their goal to succeed. And surely, you want to achieve your goals, but it isn’t a healthy approach to goal setting.
Enjoying the process actually makes you reach the goal effortlessly. You don’t rely on goals to motivate you but rather on the process itself.
While setting the goal, it is important to understand that life is not about one particular goal, or you can try again if you fail or do not perform well enough.
It gives you the mental strength to go through one and achieve more goals in life.
Make Sure To Evaluate Your Progress Regularly
Setting your goal doesn’t just end with just starting to work on your goal. Rather it calls for more self-awareness and self-analysis along the way.
You have to be actively monitoring and checking how you’re doing to achieve your goal. You have to evaluate your progress.
Not just that you also have to evaluate your progress rate, such as how fast or slow you are growing and whether there is a growth in your rate of development in the past weeks or not.
Make sure to set up a system to evaluate the progress of your set goal. See how many of the sub-goals you are done with, and that too on the given deadlines.
Knowing how you are moving will help you to take the necessary measures to make the situation better. So you can redirect your energies in the right direction.
Celebrate Your Wins
Whenever you succeed, whether it is a big win or a small win, it is important to celebrate and take a moment to appreciate the people involved.
You don’t need to wait for the entire goal to succeed in order to celebrate wins. Rather focus on the short wins in a long way.
As you keep making progress and hitting the milestones of your goal, celebrate each of your wins and show appreciation to the people involved in it.
Even reward yourself and your team for doing good work. You need to maintain the motivation and enthusiasm towards achieving the big goal.
More To Explore:
- 20+ SMART Goals For Teachers Examples
- A Quick Guide For Business SMART Goals
- Ultimate Guide On Setting SMART Goals For Managers
- SMART Weight Loss Goals And Achieve Them – 10 Examples
- SMART Goals for Time Management: Ultimate Guide
“Vision, strategy, and inspiration – these three words describe me the best. I am the founder of “TheLeaderboy” dedicated to leadership and personal development. As a self-taught practitioner, I have been studying the principles of effective leadership for the past decade and my passion lies in sharing my insights with others. My mission is to empower individuals to become better leader