We all know we’re supposed to set goals.
There have been numerous studies that show the benefits of setting goals. Setting goals makes it more likely that you’ll do .. anything. Goal setting turns dreams and wishes into plans and action. SMART goal setting makes goals doable.
But it’s not enough to just set a goal. The kinds of goals you set, and how you actually set them, makes a difference in how likely you’ll meet your goal, or even attempt to do anything to get there. You need to set SMART goals,
What is a SMART goal?
A goal is something you want to achieve or accomplish. A SMART goal is one that is very Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timed. The difference is huge.
If you set a goal, you’re already ahead of those who merely wish for something to happen. If you write down that goal, you’re much more likely to achieve it. SMART goals are a way of writing down those goals to help you map out exactly how you will get there.
SMART goal setting was originally created by corporate management consultant George T Doran. His little book “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” has been quoted in countless business articles, educational blogs, and by self-help gurus and life coaches everywhere. And that’s because it works.
SMART is an acronym that describes how to set a goal.
How to set a SMART goal.
Let’s set a goal of “I want to make more money.” This is a common goal, but how will we actually do this? And how will we know when we’ve achieved it?
SMART goals answer those questions, and make attaining the goal easier.
First, make your goal specific.
It’s not enough to want to make more money. Where is the money to come from?
So let’s specify this goal:
I want to make more money from my online business.
This is a lot more specific. Where are we getting this money? From the online business.
The more specific you are when you set a SMART goal, the easier it is to see how you’re going to get there. Now I know where to concentrate my efforts: on my online business. I’m not going to take on a part time job. I’m not going to make more money just hoping either. I’m going to focus on my online business and achieve my goal through that.
Second, make your goal measurable.
Now we know where, but how do we know what “more” means? Does $1 more count? That’s not really a goal worth putting the work towards. So let’s make this goal challenging, and find a measure for it.
I want to make $500 more from my online business.
Remember that setting a SMART goal means getting specific. Adding in specific numbers helps to know when you’ve achieved your goal. It also makes it easier to figure out the steps to getting there.
$500 is a specific number and lets me break it down into milestones that I can track. I can use a chart or a graph to be able to measure how much money I’m making and if I’m on track to make more than I have before.
Third, make your goal actionable.
To be actionable, you need to be able to actually do something about it. You can’t set a goal based solely on what someone else will do, or based on getting lucky. After all, you can’t make it a goal to win the lottery! It’s not up to you if you do or don’t win!
Is my goal actionable? Can I make $500 more from my online business? Is that up to me to be able to do?
For this goal, say I sell packages worth $100. If I want to make $500 more, I need to sell just 5 more packages than I already do. I can now reverse-engineer my actions, and I can figure out exactly what I need to do to sell these extra packages.
Fourth, make your goal realistic.
Realistic goals are ones that aren’t going to overwhelm you . They are doable, even if they require you to work harder than before.
In my example goal, $500 more is a realistic goal, but $5000 is probably not a realistic goal, given the time and resources available to me.
When you set a SMART goal, check that it’s realistic. Consider how much time you can devote to it, how much energy you have, and what you may have to give up in order to achieve this goal. Are you willing to give up those things for this goal? Or do you need to rethink your goal first?
Finally, make your goal timed.
The last step to setting a SMART goal is to add a timeline. When you put a deadline on something, you have that extra motivation to work towards your goal, even when you don’t feel like working. We tend to procrastinate, so knowing when you want to achieve your goal helps you curb that and put your time to good use.
So let’s add a timeline to this goal.
I want to make $500 more this summer from my online business.
Seasons make great natural boundaries for setting a SMART goal. When seasons change, often our obligations and commitments change too. So that means we may have different levels of action and availability to work towards our goals. Check out this post on 90-day planning for more details on setting goals seasonally.
Set your SMART goal the right way.
Two final thoughts on how to set a SMART goal:
- tell someone.
- write it down.
When you write it down, it’s much more concrete. It’s like declaring yourself instead of merely wishing and hoping. You’re much more likely to remember your goal, and work towards it, when you write it down.
Telling someone helps you stay accountable. Set your SMART goal and share it with someone. Tell them exactly what your goal is, when you’re going to achieve it by, and why it’s important to you.
Bonus: make your goal emotionally connected.
If you truly want to make a difference in your life, set a SMART goal that is emotional for you. Tie it to your emotions. Dig deep and figure out what will make it worth the work for you.
For my example goal:
I want to make $500 more this summer from my online business, so I can buy my daughter her first car!
Now I have a reason for the goal. It’s not about the money anymore — it’s about making my girl happy. Is that going to motivate me when I get discouraged. You bet!