smart-goalsThe New Year is upon us!  Are you one of the 45% of Americans who make New Year’s Resolutions?  Are you one of the 8% of Americans who are successful in achieving those resolutions?  If you are, then this article might not be too helpful.  But, if you are in the remaining 24%-49% percent of people who don’t usually succeed or consistently fail to meet their goals, then read on!  Setting SMART goals might be the missing link between making goals and actually achieving them.

Whether business or personal, we all have things we would like to achieve.  A study by Gail Matthews at Dominican University showed that goals are more likely achieved if those goals are written, if there is a public commitment (you tell someone else about them) and there is accountability (you update someone about your progress).

Where should you begin to create goals that are achievable?  Write them down using the SMART acronym!  The concept of SMART goals appears to have its origins in an article dating back to November of 1981 written by George T. Doran.  In his article, Mr. Doran created the mnemonic acronym SMART.  Although different people over the years have used different synonyms for each of the letters, the concept is generally the same.  SMART stands for:

Measurable (motivating)
Attainable (agreed, action-oriented, ambitious, aligned)
Relevant (realistic, resourced, reasonable, results-based)
Time-related (trackable, time-based, time-sensitive, time limited)

Write down a goal for 2017 and see if you can apply each of the 5 SMART criteria to it.

First, is the goal specific?

Does it answer the 3 “W” questions?  Who needs to be involved in this goal? Is it just you or does it require the participation of others?  What are you trying to accomplish?  The more specific you can get here the better!  Why have you set this goal?  This is important to know and remember as you are working hard to achieve your goal!  Don’t lose sight of why you set the goal in the first place.  Remembering why will be your biggest motivating factor if you become discouraged along the way.

Second, is the goal measurable?

How are you going to gauge your progress towards this goal?  Are there milestones that you need to meet along the way? Are there metrics that you can use to determine if your goal is met or you are moving in the right direction?

Third, is the goal attainable? 

Do you have the tools, skills, support or attitude to achieve this goal?  If not, what will it take to attain them?  Do you need a mentor? Do you need to take a class? Do you need to hire an expert for help? Do you need to adjust your attitude and outlook?

Fourth, is the goal relevant?

Is the goal closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand?  Particularly for business related goals, it is important to determine if your goals are moving your business towards its overall objectives.  It can be easy to focus on goals or activities that may not be completely relevant to your overall business objective.  Don’t get distracted!

Fifth, is the goal time-related?

Every goal should have a target date for completion, AND that target date needs to be realistic.  Take a look at how you plan to gauge your progress using metrics (step two) and consider how long the entire process will take.  Not only will this help you determine a realistic time frame, but putting a completion date on your goal provides a sense of urgency and accountability.

Whether your goals are business or personal, once you have written them down, share them with someone.  In doing so, you will be creating accountability.  Choose the person wisely, particularly for personal goals.  The person should be able to honestly critique your goals if they don’t appear to meet the 5 criteria AND should be kind and gracious when holding you accountable.  It is very important to approach the whole concept of goal setting in a positive way.  After all, your goals are something you want to achieve.

Finally, make sure you are reporting your progress to your accountability partner.  If your goals are well thought out and you stick to your strategy and timeline, you will find that you are now one of the 8% of Americans who actually achieves their goals.  If you find that you are not on track during the process, revisit the 5 SMART criteria.  Perhaps you underestimated the learning curve for a new skill?  Maybe you had an unexpected health or family crisis that required your time?  Identify the problem area, make adjustments, rewrite your goal and update your accountability partner.

The Streamlined Office helps individuals and businesses improve their efficiency and productivity.  Regardless of what we are working on with our clients, we always start with goal setting.  If you need help setting your goals or developing a process to achieve them, contact The Streamlined Office.