Get smart in 5 easy steps

How do you get smart when setting goals?

Setting a goal for your business or career without a plan to measure your progress is a serious problem.

You have probably heard that the best goals are always SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced and Time-framed.

Here’s my favourite SMART goal that worked, from then US President John F Kennedy:

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

When you choose to use SMART goals, you can achieve great things too!

Here are my five steps that will guarantee your SMART goals work for you:

1. Break it down

What needs to be done to move you closer to your goal?

Say you have a goal to increase your business revenue, then some options to do that may be to increase prices, improve sales volume or introduce more high-value products or services.

For each option(s) you choose, list the tasks so you and your team can start to work on right away. To improve sales volume, for example, you might list things like improving marketing, make more sales calls or find new markets

2. Look for the links

When you break down your goals to a list of tasks, the result may seem overwhelming. Take a closer look, and the natural links between tasks will become more obvious.

Having a SMART goal to keep you on track ensures all your tasks leading somewhere, rather than simply giving the illusion of progress.

3. Allocate responsibility

Once you’ve decided what needs to be done, then it’s time to decide ‘by whom’ or your goal is not SMART. Until you know who is accountable for every single task on your list, your goal setting exercise is unlikely to be successful.

4. Keep track

As part of this process, a natural progression will become obvious for most of the tasks. You will be able to see that for B to happen, A has to be completed, and you can schedule them accordingly.

Other tasks will be repeated daily, weekly or monthly. Work out now what system you’ll use to keep track of them all. The choice of system is up to you. The only rule is to keep track outside your head.

5. When all else fails, work backwards!

SMART goals are all about starting with the end in mind.

If you’re not sure where to start, try imagining that you’ve already reached your goal. Imagine the last action you would take before you achieve your SMART goal and write that down.

No need to overthink it. You don’t even need to believe these steps are possible. You are simply working your way back to where you are today so you can get SMART about your goal.

One final tip

When you’re feeling stuck, try a new approach. Use our free Resource + Reward decision-making matrix. It will help you decide which goals are worth pursuing. Then you can be truly smart!

Would you like to ‘get smart’ about your goals?

We offer a range of services to support you. Start by taking our quiz for a free report, read about The H Factor, and explore how coaching can help you.

About Susan Rochester

Susan Rochester has been managing director of Balance at Work since 2006. Susan has a natural tendency to balance analytical thinking with an optimistic outlook to set direction and solve problems. She is an effective facilitator and constantly creates new and more effective ways of doing things, motivated by helping others to achieve their goals.

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