You may have a clear trajectory in mind of where you want to end up in life, but identifying how to get there can sometimes be foggy. If you are serious about success and willing to put in the energy to reach your goals, establishing a SMART goal becomes crucial. You may have briefly talked about SMART goals in college or heard it mentioned in a TED Talk, but we're here to refresh your memory on the ins-and-outs of what makes this thought exercise an important one:
1. S for Specific
Target the specific area of improvement or need. This is where you should be clear about what you aspire to do. Start by asking yourself the big questions such as who is involved, what do I want to accomplish, or why is the goal important and other questions along this strain.
Example: I want to start a small business.
2. M for Measurable
With any goal, you should be able to track your progress. A measurable goal should assess issues such as:
-How much of something is needed for you to be successful?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Being able to track your goals in this way also helps you stay motivated to meet your deadlines.
Example: I want to start a microbrewery in Colorado in 3 years time.
3. A for Achievable
It's wise to place an emphasis on setting realistic parameters for your goals, but not to the extent where it stifles creativity. A goal, by definition, is achieving something we previously thought to be impossible. So dream big but keep a grasp on what hurdles you may have to jump in order to get there, such as financial factors.
Example: I want to move to Colorado and start a brewing company, but first need to raise funds.
4. R for Relevant
This step is making sure your goal is the best fit for you. It may seem like second-guessing, but asking yourself tough questions can help you find out what you're really after:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
In essence, is your goal in alignment with other areas of your life and what drives you as a person?
Example: I want to start a small brewing company in Colorado, but since I am newly married I should consider the career/family goals of my spouse.
5. T for Time-Bound
For SMART goals, strive to have a date set for when you should have the goal accomplished. Then the journey begins! Along the way, depending on time-frame of the goal, it's wise to set checkpoints to track your progress.
Example: I want to start a microbrewery in Colorado in August of 3 years. Every six months I can track my funding and master the process of making tasty brews.
Now that we have all 5 of the components for a SMART goal, let's go ahead and compile them into one ultra-example. We'll continue with this microbrewery theme.
"I want to start a microbrewery in Colorado in August of 3 years. I will start raising funds which I can monitor every 6 months to keep on track. My spouse is a teacher and will be able to relocate and by working overtime I can make enough for the big move."
Cheers to that!