Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.) Goals
We always hear that setting goals are pivotal to our success in life, yet so rarely do we identify what makes a good goal. Gene Donohue of Top Achievement has a great description of S.M.A.R.T. goals from the Top Achievement website that I have adapted here with business applicable examples. Let me likewise give thanks to the guidance of Steve Hulsey, the CEO of William H. Gordon Associates for first sharing this philosophy with me.
Specific – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:
*Who: Who is involved?
*What: What do I want to accomplish?
*Where: Identify a location.
*When: Establish a time frame.
*Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
Example: A general goal would be, “Start networking.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a local organization and set-up three lunch meetings with members each month.”
Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.
Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love. Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.
Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to increase your corporate billings to a certain level, when do you want to do so by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by the end of the year”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.