SMART Goals

You may recall that two weeks ago, I talked about goal setting strategies.  At this time of year, goal setting is practically a global sport!  Whichever method you choose, freshly imagined and passionately penned goals will see you through the transition to a New Year in style. Since I will be talking about goal-setting as a guest on a local radio show this weekend (WXTK 95.1 FM Something More with Chris Boyd at 3pm EST on Saturday) and presenting my goal-setting methods at the award-winning Solstice Day Spa in Hyannis, Cape Cod on January 24th, I have been immersed in goal-setting strategies for weeks now.  In case you need another strategy, one way of setting goals involves what's called "S.M.A.R.T." goals.  Wikipedia defines them as such:

"SMART / SMARTER is a mnemonic used to set objectives, for example for project management, performance management and personal development.  The first known uses of the term occur in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran."

So, this system works whether you are dealing with a work situation or a personal one.

The terms behind the letters refer to the following:

S - Specific M - Measurable A - Attainable R - Relevant T - Target-dated E - Evaluate R - Re-evaluate

Nota bene:  This process works a lot more smoothly with a coach acting as your guide, holding the flashlight and reading the map while you get your bearings and start walking towards the light!  =)  But here are some general points to help you get started on your own:

Specific

The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over a more general one.  This means that the goal must be clear and descriptive.  To make goals specific, they should outline exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where it's going to happen and which attributes are important.

A specific goal will usually answer the five "W" questions:

  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
  • Who: Who is involved?
  • Where: Identify a location.
  • Which: Identify requirements and limitations.

Measurable

The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress towards actually reaching the goal.  If a goal isn't measurable, it's hard to know whether you're making progress.  Measuring progress is supposed to help you stay on track, reach target dates and experience the exhilaration of achievement that keeps you going until you reach your ultimate goal.

A measurable goal will usually answer questions like:

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

Attainable

The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable.  While an attainable goal may stretch you in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. 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 even the financial capacity to reach them.   An attainable goal may cause you to identify previously overlooked opportunities and bring you closer to achieving those goals.

An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

  • How can my goal be accomplished?

Relevant

The fourth term stresses the importance of making goals relevant.  A relevant goal must represent an objective that you are willing and able to work towards.  This does not mean the goal cannot be high.  A goal is probably relevant if you believe it can be accomplished.  If you have accomplished anything similar in the past, you have probably identified a relevant goal.

A relevant goal will usually answer the question:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?

Target-dated

The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. Commitment to a deadline helps you to focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in our lives. A target-dated goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.

A target-dated goal will usually answer the question:

  • When?
  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Now, if you want to be even "SMARTER", you can add Evaluate and Re-evaluate.  But those come later, say in January and then March, July, September...  But we will definitely be talking again before that!

Before the ball drops on Times Square on Saturday night, why not take a few minutes to map out at least one goal for 2012?  What have you got to lose?