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SMART Goals: Making Goals Achievable

Do you ever feel like you’re working hard but not getting anywhere? Maybe you see little improvement in your skills or achievements when you reflect on the last three to five years. Perhaps you struggle to see how you will fulfil your ambitions during the next few years.

Many people spend their lives drifting from one job to another or rushing around trying to get more done while accomplishing little. Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your endeavours, use your time and resources constructively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.

What Does SMART Mean?

SMART is an acronym that you can use to direct your goal setting.
Its criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives, click here to review.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific (simple, reasonable, significant)
  • Measurable (significant, motivating)
  • Achievable (agreed, realistic)
  • Relevant (resourced, results-based)
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time sensitive)

How to Use SMART

1. Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the following five key questions:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is going to be involved?
  • Where is it going to be located?
  • Which resources are required?

2. Measurable

It’s important to have measurable goals so that you can track your progress. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the delight of getting closer to achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

3. Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
• How can I accomplish this goal?
• How realistic is the goal, based on other factors such as financial constraints?

4. Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them.

A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:

  • Does this seem meaningful?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current environment?

5. Time-bound

Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

A time-based goal will usually answer these questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

SMART is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It can also improve your ability to reach them by encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.

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Mark Holton