Learning to Write SMART Goals
Many entrepreneurs lament over the feeling of not accomplishing everything they want to, despite the fact that they’re working hard and putting long hours into their business. When we speak to business owners who feel this way, we recommend that they learn how to write SMART Goals.
SMART Goals help people achieve their objectives by clarifying their ideas, focusing their efforts and using time and resources wisely.
The criteria for these goals is attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept, a management model with the goal of improving organizational performance by determining clearly defined objectives that are agreed upon by both employees and management.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.
SPECIFIC: Write out your goal in clear, direct language.
MEASURABLE: Make sure your goals are trackable.
ACHIEVABLE: Your goals must be attainable.
RELEVANT: Goals should be realistic and results-based.
TIME BOUND: All goals should be time-sensitive and tied to a hard deadline.
Benefits of Writing SMART Goals
When goals align with these characteristics, they are more likely to be accomplished. Often, those who implement SMART goals find that it is an effective tool and provides clarity, focus and motivation. SMART goals are also easy for anyone to use—without the need for special training.
How to Write SMART Goals
Use the following framework to craft your SMART Goals:
Goals should be written in specific language so that you can focus your efforts. When you are writing your goals, answer the “five Ws:”
- What would you like to accomplish?
- Why is this important?
- Who needs to be involved in accomplishing this?
- Where is what you want to accomplish located (physically, figuratively or digitally)?
- Which resources do you need?
For example, if you are currently a sales associate and your goal is to become the sales manager, your specific goal might be: I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become a sales manager within my organization, so that I can further my career and become an effective leader.
A measurable goal addresses questions such as how much, how many, or how will I know I have accomplished the goal? Measurability is important because you are more likely to stay motivated if you can meet deadlines and track your progress.
For example, you may measure your goal of becoming a sales manager by determining that it will take you five years to complete all necessary training and to gain the required experience to be eligible for the promotion.
In order to successfully accomplish goals, they need to be realistic—or achievable. If the goal is achievable, you should be able to explain how you will accomplish it and determine if there are any constraints, such as finances, that would prevent you from achieving the goal.
For example, you should ask yourself if reaching your goal of becoming a sales manager is realistic based on your existing experience, job performance, and qualifications. It is also important to carefully consider if accomplishing your goal is in the hands of someone else. For example, securing a promotion may be dependent upon the other candidates who apply, the recruiter’s decision, and the company’s financial position. However, getting the experience and earing the qualifications that are essential for being considered for that promotion is entirely in your hands.
The goals you set should be relevant to your needs and desires. They should be worthwhile to you and it should be the right time in your life and/or career to accomplish them.
For example, if you want to become a sales manager, consider this:
- Is it the right time to work toward that goal? What else do you have going on in your personal or professional life that make it the right time or not the right time?
- Do you have the time to dedicate to accomplishing that goal?
- Are you the right person for the role of sales manager?
Every goal should have a deadline so that you have something concrete to work toward. A target date also inhibits everyday tasks from taking priority over long-term goals.
A time bound goal answers the following:
- When will it be accomplished?
- What can you do today?
- What can you do next month?
- What can you do in six months?
For example, becoming a sales manager may require further training or job experience. How long will it take you to fulfill those requirements? What smaller goals do you need to accomplish before you are able to achieve your main goal? Remember to set deadlines for those smaller steps, as well.
What will your first SMART Goal be? How do you think SMART Goals will help you to be a more effective entrepreneur?