We all want to be successful: in life, in business. But without a plan, many of us find ourselves drifting from project to project, job to job, and startup to startup without making measurable or meaningful progress.
If this sounds like you, it’s time to start implementing SMART goals to reach your desired destination. Here at Marketing Essentials, we use SMART goals to measure progress for all of our clients and to set our own internal goals.
Let’s explore what SMART goals are, and how to create and evaluate these goals to ensure that they help you achieve your objectives.
What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym for a goal-setting strategy that’s largely attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept, which was popularized in his 1954 book The Practice of Management. It has since become a popular tool for creating personal, business and management objectives.
When setting your goals, it’s important that you evaluate each one to ensure that they meet the criteria below. This gives you the greatest chance of success in reaching your goal.
Ask yourself if your goal is:
- Specific: Highly specific goals are better than general goals. For instance, saying you want to “increase revenue” is vague. Saying that you want to increase revenue in the fourth quarter of this year by 3% over last year is specific.
- Measurable: Are you able to measure the progress you’re making toward your goal? You should be able to! If you cannot measure your progress, how will you know if you’ve reached your goal?
- Achievable: Is your goal realistic? Setting realistic goals positions you and your team for success. While we’d all love to increase sales by 300% in seven days or win the lottery next week, these are not realistic goals.
- Relevant: Is this goal related to or in support of your overall goals? For instance, if your overall goal is to learn to achieve a better work/home balance, you may set a goal of being home by dinner time at least three days a week. But a goal like “reduce how much I spend shopping online” is not directly related to your primary goal -- unless you spend a lot of time shopping online!
- Timebound: Is the clock ticking? It should be! All goals should be assigned a specific timeframe in which they should be accomplished. Do you want to achieve this goal by the end of the quarter? Year-end? Next Monday? Be as specific as possible.
Let’s break this down even further so you know the types of questions you should ask as you create and evaluate your goals based on this formula.
Is Your Goal Specific?
To determine if your goal is specific enough, you’ll need to act like a reporter and ask the five “W’s.”
- Who is responsible for achieving this goal?
- What do I/we want to accomplish?
- Where will this goal be achieved?
- When does this goal need to be achieved?
- Why is this goal important to me/my business?
Is Your Goal Measurable?
Measurement is vital to goal-setting, but it’s a step that far too many people neglect. By measuring your goal, you will be able to track your progress over time.
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask yourself questions about it such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How do I know when it’s been achieved?
- How can I track the progress toward my goal?
Is Your Goal Achievable?
If you’re going to measure your progress, you need to determine how achievable it truly is first!
To determine if your goal is achievable, ask yourself:
- Do I/we have the resources we need to achieve this goal in the time allotted?
- How realistic is this goal considering our current budget?
- Do I/we currently have the skills we need to achieve this goal?
- Does the achievement of your goal rely totally on an outside decision-maker over which you have little control? (remember, YOU should have everything YOU need on hand to complete a truly achievable goal!)
Is Your Goal Relevant?
Does your goal complement your other goals? Is it related to your overall mission and vision, whether personal or professional?
To determine if your goal is relevant enough, ask yourself:
- Do I feel this goal is worth achieving?
- Does this goal align with my/the company’s long-term objectives and vision?
- Does this goal align with my/the company’s current priorities?
Is Your Goal Time-Bound?
You can only measure a goal if there is a way to track it over a period of time. “Someday I want to grow my company” is so vague it could just as easily be, “Someday I want to be an Olympic athlete.” Without specific, measurable, timely and attainable parameters, such a statement sounds more like daydreaming than goal-setting!
To determine if your goal is actually timebound, ask yourself:
- When can I achieve this goal?
- What quarter can I achieve this goal?
- What precise date can I achieve this goal?
- What can I do today to work toward this goal?
Create Your SMART GOALS
The SMART goals formula is a proven way to focus on achieving our objectives, whether personal or professional. Specific and measurable goals give clarity to our everyday actions and help drive our decision-making.
As you set and achieve your SMART goals, you can continue to add goals or level up existing goals to continue driving your personal and professional evolution.
Find a Strategic Partner
At Marketing Essentials, we put strategy first. That means sitting down with you and your company to evaluate your goals, vision and how we can help you achieve the objectives you’ve set for yourself. If you want to learn more about how to create SMART goals for your business, sign up for a complimentary consultation with our experts.