What is SMART goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for:
S - specific. Your goals have to be clear and unambiguous. The problem with the general goal-setting system is that the goals lack specificity and therefore make the final destination look blurred.
The mission of the SAMRT goals system is to fix that, so the first principle of the SMART goal-setting is to make your goals as specific as possible. Decide exactly what you want to achieve and say it out loud. Don't go for generic "bigger", "better", "faster". Determine what this all means and name the exact improvement you're looking for.
The SMART system helps you focus on specific results and see exactly what you need to achieve by using action verbs and specific milestones. For example, instead of setting a goal “I want more sales”, you have to say “I am going to increase the sales by 30%”.
M - measurable. The next principle of this goal-setting system is all about making goals measurable. It goes hand-in-hand with the first principle that's about specificity. Meanwhile, it makes sure you can see exactly how far or close you're on the way to your goal and how many steps left to finally reach new heights.
The end result - your goal - has to be measurable so you can certainly see if and when you achieve it. This helps you track the progress and estimate the efforts required to achieve your ambitions. In the example I made earlier “by 30%” is exactly what turns a general goal into a measurable one.
This adds a significant amount of clarity to how the final destination looks like and helps you understand better if each step that you make is getting you closer to your goal or not.
A - achievable or attainable. This is probably the most important criteria of the SMART goal-setting system. Because it makes sure you set the goals that are within reach. It is crucial because very often people set unrealistic goals that they can never achieve due to various factors. Such goals become utopian and unfulfilled dreams.
SMART goals objectives are to help you stay motivated and keep moving forward.
Meanwhile, with unattainable goals, your motivation can vanish quickly forcing you to give up. The attainability really depends on the nature of your goal. Nevertheless, make sure you don’t set goals that are impossible to achieve.
In order to see if the goal you set is achievable, check if you have all the resources required to achieve it and if anybody has done it successfully before.
R - relevant. This principle of the SMART goal approach has significant importance from the point of view of motivation.
This feature of a SMART goal makes sure that a goal you set matters to you and you personally consider it important. Unless your attitude towards this particular goal is serious and you care about the final result, then you’re unlikely to stick with it.
Each goal you set has to be relevant in the sense that the thoughts about achieving it keep you up at night and make you want to work even on weekends.
Therefore make sure your goal is relevant at this very stage of your life and it means a lot to you. Otherwise, don't even waste your time on such sudden urges and irrational desires to do something.
T - time-bound. Another problem with the general goal setting is that goals sound vague and have no time boundaries. In order to make a goal time-bound, add the deadline - year, month or day when exactly you want to achieve it. Your goals have to have the start and finish date.
If the goal doesn’t have any time constraints, you’ll never have a sense of urgency and likely to postpone the completion of any goal-related tasks. According to the SMART goal system, each goal you set has to have a due date. Make a clear decision when you want to achieve your goal.
For example, “I’m going to increase sales by 30% by the end of the year” is both specific and time-bound goal. Now it looks like a SMART goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound.
I've also designed a few examples of SMART goals from different spheres that will inspire you and provide even more clarity on how to use this approach.
Examples of SMART goals
Work-related and business goals:
1. "We will hire 5 new employees for the marketing team over the next 2 months, till December 15"
This goal is specific: 5 employees for the marketing department.
It's measurable: It states exactly how many employees and for what team the company needs to hire.
Achievable: It's totally realistic because 5 new people in two months is a doable task.
Relevant: The company needs to grow faster so it needs more people who'll do marketing.
Time-bound: The goal has an exact deadline - December 15.
2. "We are going to improve the conversion rate on the xyz.com website by 30% till the end of the quarter"
The goal is specific: A 30% conversion rate improvement on a particular website.
It's measurable: The goal statement says exactly how big the desired improvement should be.
Achievable: It's totally realistic because last quarter CRO efforts provided a 25% improvement.
Relevant: The company wants to maximize its revenue.
Time-bound: The goal has an exact deadline - the end of the quarter.
Life-related SMART goals:
1. "I'm going to move to Barcelona till July 2021"
The goal is specific: It says exactly what you want to achieve without any ambiguous statements.
It's measurable: The progress is easy to measure.
Achievable: It's totally realistic if you have required documents and enough money for that.
Relevant: If you are eager to change the place where you live, this goal is totally relevant.
Time-bound: July 2021 at the latest is when the goal has to be accomplished.
Sport-related SMART goals:
1. "I'm going to run a sub-3-hour marathon in April 2021 in London"
The goal is super specific: It says what, when, how and where you going to do.
It's measurable: It says exactly what pace you should be running at to hit that sub-3-hour mark.
Achievable: It's totally realistic because last marathon was 3 hours 9 minutes. And there is plenty of time to prepare properly for the race.
Relevant: Of course, it is. What runner doesn't want to run this fast?
Time-bound: The goal has an exact deadline - April 2021.
Thinking about getting started with the S.M.A.R.T goal setting? Take a step further goal-setting theory and apply this system to your own life with one of this simple and convenient ready-made smart goals template designed for writing smart goals.