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How To Set Smart Goals?

Date Added: 09/08/2021

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Meeting goals and targets within a specific time frame is the key to successful project execution be it corporate, business, educational, personal, and career domains.

However, there is a big difference between setting a mere goal and creating a smart goal. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

In all probability, the former will be forgotten as soon as it is set as it does not carry the mechanisms to reach the goal in a realistic way.


Pioneer of smart goals

The pioneer of smart goals is George T. Doran, a former director with Washington Water Power Company.

In 1981, he published a paper called, “SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” and introduced SMART goals as a fool-proof way to accomplishing goals.


Useful for business and personal goals

For individuals, especially fresh graduates and serving professionals getting a specific job means meeting many pre-determined goals.

It will be difficult to determine reach milestones that can be added to the achievements in the portfolio.

When an objective is set it must include all ingredients necessary for its achievement and success. The framework SMART goals will help as the boundaries are set and defines steps, how to channel the resources, and cover milestones to record the progress made.

Once SMART goals are in place, things will fall in place, and reaching goals will not be a problem.


Challenge of writing SMART goals

But writing SMART goals is no fluff. It needs careful working through each component to build measurable goals covering all things needed to show the track and milestones vividly when successful.

This is in contrast to generalities and guesswork, as timelines will be clear and tracking progress will be easy; so will be showing the missed milestones as well.


Defining smart goal

A SMART goal is all about careful planning. It has a clear and trackable objective.

S for Specific: This part demands clarity and specificity on what you want to achieve.

Instead of saying I want to be in CMD position in leadership”, make it specific-- “I want to be in a position managing a top team of the company.”

When the goal narrows, the steps necessary to achieve it will look easier to execute.

M for Measurable: There is a need for proof to show there is the progress made towards the goal set. For example, if the goal is to be the MD, measure its progress by looking at the number of management positions applied so far and the number of interviews attended.

Set milestones to re-evaluate and do course correction. Also, reward yourself meaningfully as a self-treat when you hit milestones.

A for Achievable: A goal must not look like a fantasy and it must be achievable? For this, a realistic time frame is necessary to stay focused and motivated. The person must be clear about the credentials and making the best out f it in terms of knowledge, experience, and skills to reach the targeted leadership position.

R is Relevant: Goals must be relevant and align with the person’s values and long-term goals. If a goal is a misfit with broader objectives, rework it. Ask yourself how important the goal is and contribute to your long-term growth.

T for Time-based: Time frame is important in reaching goals. It is the end date that provides motivation to stay on track to deliver.

For example, if the goal is to earn a promotion to a senior position, give six months. If the goal is not achieved within that time, review it and find out the reasons.

It could be that the timeframe has been unrealistic or the plan ran into unexpected roadblocks making the goal slip.


Examples of SMART goals

Think of a person X looking for a promotion to senior customer care officer after completing the training modules in three months and wanted to apply for the role at the end of the coming quarter.

So, his SMART goals are clear.

Specific (S): The person has set the goal clear that he wanted to be promoted to senior customer care officer.

Measurable (M): It is measurable as completion of the training module is a pre-condition for filing the application and earning the promotion.

Achievable (A): The person will attend the training necessary to earn the promotion.

Relevant (R): The goal setter will apply for the promotion only after finishing the training modules.

Time-based (T): The goal setter has a deadline to achieve the objective; at the end of the business quarter.

It is apparent, SMART goals make forward movement and success will look achievable.


Goals and action plan

Even if SMART goals are scripted well, if the action plan to achieve them is missing, it is of no use. To help the execution, there must be tools that can plan, track, manage, automate, and report goals in real-time.

For this, templates like Smartsheet can help mainly those in enterprises and teams.

The tool will be collaborative with real-time objectives in Smartsheet to increase transparency and accountability in all initiatives.

Most project management leaders rely on Smartsheet to align people, resources, and schedules to get the work done. It enhances the pace of teamwork, accountability, and visibility and makes sure nothing is missed out.


Ordinary Goal setting Vs Smart Goal Planning 

See this goal, I want to improve my performance

This is a traditional approach, but very vague. The wording shows the goals are not going to be attained. The statement is short on specifics, timelines, motivation, and a reality check. You can see the change of the SMART goals formula is applied to create new and improved goals.

Now transform the same into SMART mode.

Goal: I want to improve my performance

Specific: Having received low marks on the use of PowerPoint in the last performance review, there is a need to improve my skills to learn PowerPoint efficiently and to create various presentations before the next review in six months.

Achievable: Improving PowerPoint skills can take the career forward and win a better performance review grade. So time must be found every week to watch PowerPoint tutorials and also attend online classes tio earn new skills.

Relevant: At present PowerPoint constitutes 25 percent of the job, when moving up in the company, there is a need to spend 50 percent of time creating PowerPoint presentations.

Time-Bound: In six months, there is a need to master PowerPoint for ensuring more efficiency in the job and cut the load from 40 percent to a manageable pace.

In short, SMART goals change all hard work into smart work delivering so many benefits.

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