We usually start a transformation journey because we have a dream, a vision. However, we have to express it as a specific goal to achieve that dream. Why? Because dreams and visions are inspiring, but they are imprecise and need to be translated into something more specific, less abstract, something you can measure to set up actions and achieve results. And this is what a SMART goal can do for you – help you gain clarity on what you have to do. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. So let’s go through its features and understand better what it is all about.
- The Specific feature calls for narrowing the scope of your goal. It should be clear and to the point. If you have a very ambitious or very general and vague goal, it would be challenging to achieve during a set period. When narrowing your goal, try to answer the five “W” questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are applied?
A specific goal could be: “I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of design within my organisation so that I can build my career and lead a team”. However, it still needs working on to become a clear and achievable goal.
- A measurable goal allows you to keep track of your progress and stay motivated. On the other hand, assessing progress helps you be focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving what you are aiming for. A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- What actions will I do?
- How much? How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
- An attainable goal is a realistic goal, one that you can achieve. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but remain possible. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- What steps will I undertake?
- How realistic are the goal and the actions based on other constraints, such as financial factors, for example?
* Insider Tip #1: Beware of setting goals that someone else has power over, not you. For example, “Get that promotion!” depends on who else applies and on the recruiter’s decision. But “Get the experience and training that I need to be considered for that promotion” is entirely down to you.
- Relevant – a goal is appropriate when it matters to you and is aligned with other plans you might have. It is essential that you retain control over your actions and do not lose perspective. A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match my other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current market environment?
- Time-bound. Every goal needs a target date to have a deadline to focus on and something to work towards. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps prevent everyday tasks from prioritising your longer-term goals. A time-bound plan will usually answer these questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
- So, the initial version of the goal I shared above, enriched with all these features, should become something like this:
I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of design within my organisation to build my career and lead a team within three years.
* Insider tip #2: When you work on defining your SMART goal (especially an ambitious goal), start with the end in mind. Start from the time-bound feature and work backwards. This will help you to realistically plan according to the time you expect to complete your goal.
You might return to this box later and correct it if need be if some of the other aspects of your goal make you realise the timeframe you defined is not feasible.
When you want to make a change in life, getting clear on your goal sets you up for the ride.
Having crystal clear what you want to achieve is a guarantee for success.