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Last Updated on December 14, 2020

How To Set SMART Goals That You Will Accomplish

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How To Set SMART Goals That You Will Accomplish

Goals are the foundation of a successful life. You won’t go anywhere unless you are someone with a vision and various systems in place to help you along that path. Ultimately, how you can get there is through setting goals.

Now, over the years, there have been many people discussing how to set goals and achieve them. However, the focus of this article is on a method developed in 1981. It’s the idea of setting SMART goals.

However, setting goals isn’t going to be enough. Like many other goal theorists over the years, they’ve learned there is more to setting goals. After setting SMART goals, you need to accomplish them.

What Are SMART Goals?

The theorist behind this goal-setting process is George T. Doran, a consultant and former director of corporate planning for Washington Water Power Company. He wrote a paper in 1981 outlining the SMART goal process.

As you might’ve guessed, SMART is an acronym where the goals that we set follow five criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound (or Timely)

Let’s dig into each one.

Specific

Doran determined the best way for a goal to be specific was by going into detail with your answers to six questions:

  • Who is needed to achieve your goal?
  • What exactly are you trying to accomplish?
  • When do you expect to complete the task? (For this question, you don’t need to be too specific since this is covered in Time-Bound)
  • Where will this take place? This question isn’t always relevant but if there is a location or relevant event, it’s smart to identify that.
  • Which obstacles or requirements must be met to achieve this goal?
  • Why are you working towards this goal?

The idea with these questions is to look for potential obstacles in your process. Of course, there will be obstacles no matter what, but making your goal specific will ensure you remove the more obvious roadblocks.

Measurable

To make a goal measurable, you need to place a metric in place to evaluate your progress. If this is work that will take several months to complete, have milestones for when you want things to be done.

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Some other measuring tactics are making to-do lists or reflecting on your week to see if any progress has been made.

Achievable

The third aspect is achievable. This is one that many people trip up on as many focus more on the big question of “Can I achieve this with my current skills and abilities?”

Instead, it’s important you look beyond that as goals in most situations push us to do things beyond our capabilities. That’s not to say we’re doing something impossible, but rather we’re motivating ourselves to learn new skills we otherwise wouldn’t have worked on before setting SMART goals.

This is also the point to determine what sort of skills and tools you need to even start working on this goal properly.

Relevant

To make a goal relevant, it needs to be alignment with your overall life. For example, I used to place a lot of my focus on my work to the point that the relationship with my kids, my wife, and my own health started to suffer.

At that point, I decided to turn my life around as my health, wife, and kids are aspects I care about. A relevant goal for me at that point was to cut back on my work and develop small habits like doing stretches, setting time aside for my family, and so on.

A non-relevant goal in that situation would be setting goals on my work and financial prosperity.

Time-Bound

The final aspect is time-bound. This is where you want to be bringing your answer from Specific into the mix. Time-bound is the final important aspect, and it’s a tricky one.

Anyone can be setting goals, but not everyone can make them timely. The key is to set dates of course, but you want to dig further into it.

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Set a date and determine whether that’s enough time for you to reach that goal. Don’t be afraid to do some research either and see if others discuss how long it’s taken them.

It’s also a good idea to be setting milestones with expectations for where you want to be. Consider Parkinson’s Law:

Work expands to fill the time allotted.

In other words, the tighter the deadline you set, the more of an urgency you create to complete it. By keeping deadlines tight and reasonable, you can find other incentives to complete your goals.

How To Write Effective SMART Goals

Now that you have an in-depth understanding of what SMART goals are, you’ll want to commit these goals to paper. Keeping them locked in your head might make sense, but if you don’t write them down, you’re not going to feel as compelled to complete them.

We have billions of thoughts over the course of the day, and sometimes having a written reminder for some things helps.[1]

However, when you get into writing, you’ll find that there is more to writing these goals down than simply ensuring they hit the SMART criteria.

You’ll find yourself asking more questions, and the answers will begin to adjust your goals further and your strategy to achieve them. If questions aren’t coming to mind, consider this SMART goals template that Smart Sheet put together.[2]

Another tip when it comes to setting SMART goals is that you want to be setting only one and working it through the SMART criteria. After that, you can consolidate the goal into one statement.

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You’ll only want to set one goal because when we set multiple goals, it can create competition for our attention. Similar to how we shouldn’t be multitasking, we don’t want to set multiple goals for similar reasons.[3]

It breaks our focus and can lead to more problems down the road. Instead, it’s important that we set goals, achieve them, and then maintain the results as we progress towards other goals.

Evaluating Success and Failure When Setting SMART Goals

Despite understanding what SMART goals are and how to effectively write them out, some of you will succeed in your goals while some of you will fail.

That is the nature of goals. Despite your best efforts, sometimes you’ll come out short. But that’s okay because this reveals another aspect of goals.

You see, goals help us change in so many ways, and they themselves can change, too. As you work through your goals, you might make adjustments to them. Maybe you need a little more time, or you weren’t expecting other life distractions to dig into your time.

Regardless, here is how you want to approach and evaluate these aspects:

Evaluating Failure

Take failure as a learning opportunity. It’s a chance for you to learn about yourself, your goal-setting strategy, and the goal itself. From there, you can take that information and begin to make adjustments before attempting the goal again.

It is essential that if you experience roadblocks or failure, you don’t take them as such. These are challenges and opportunities for growth and further adjustment. The key is to walk away from these aspects with more knowledge than before.

Evaluating Success

While this is a good opportunity to enjoy your rewards, you should also use this opportunity for reflection, perhaps even more than with failure.

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Success is great, but that often leads to the question of “What’s next?” And for many people, this is not an easy question to answer.[4] All in all, success can lead to us stagnating, which is dangerous.

That’s not to say we need to be constantly achieving and setting goals. You should certainly be celebrating victories big or small. Not only that, but it’s key that we enjoy the results of our efforts.

However, there comes a point where we need to reflect on that success. What have you gained from that success? What can you do moving forward to achieve more? What do you want to do next?

By asking deeper questions about what you have achieved, you can further develop yourself and narrow down what needs to be focused on next.

Setting SMART Goals Is Smart

When you’re setting SMART goals, there is more to it than writing down a goal and making sure it checks off the five criteria. How you approach your goals and evaluate the results of your efforts towards those goals is important information.

Goals, no matter the method you set to achieve them, are ways for you to implement systems and to develop habits and skills to achieve your desires. By understanding this relationship thoroughly, you can now set SMART goals that you will put more effort into achieving.

More Tips on Setting SMART Goals

Featured photo credit: Helloquence via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 17, 2021

Understand the Difference Between Goals and Objectives to Advance Your Career

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Understand the Difference Between Goals and Objectives to Advance Your Career

The days of staying stagnant and complacent within a job are gone and maybe gone forever. The Great Resignation has created a movement of people who won’t settle for work that doesn’t fulfill them, and they are finding alternative ways to advance in life and a career.[1] We’re experiencing a great “reset,” and that’s a good thing. Your career should help you live a better life by providing financial security. Your work should challenge but also fulfill you. However, challenging but fulfilling work means you’ll have to do your part to be an asset.

A lot of the reason people don’t advance in their careers is that they’re not demonstrating value. Showing why you deserve more opportunities is how you can advance in your career. The good news is that goals and objectives can help you demonstrate clear value, but you need a better understanding and strategy of using goals and objectives.

Working hard is not enough. You can work hard without direction, which does not help you advance in your career. You’ll need clear goals to advance in a career and create a life of freedom. You have to be working hard towards accomplishing specific tasks that align with progress and your vision of growth. To accomplish a career advancement, you’ll need clear goals and understand the difference between goals and objectives and how they work in tandem. Being clear on the steps you take is how you accomplish more and live a growth-focused life.

Having a clear understanding of the difference between goals and objectives is crucial to advancing in your career. Here’s how to understand the difference and use goals and objectives to build a career and fulfilling life.

The Difference Between Goals and Objectives

Goals are the destination you should be working hard towards. Goals are specific accomplishments you set for yourself that help you live a better life and advance your career. If you were to think about this from a high level, objectives are the specific tasks and metrics that help you accomplish goals.

You’ll need to set goals to advance in your career. Those goals could be related to the kind of income you’d like to make, the position of leadership you’d like to be in, or even as lofty as earning equity in the company you work for. Clear career advancement goals give you a destination to strive to reach.

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With that clear destination (your goals), you’ll then need a plan to accomplish your goals—that is where objectives come into the picture. You’ll need to set specific objectives for each goal. Objectives bring clarity and create a plan for the particular steps you need to take (and in what order) to accomplish goals.

Objectives are not goals, and vice-versa. Think of goals as the house and objectives as the materials it takes to build the house. Accomplishing your goals starts with an understanding of the difference between goals and objectives. With that clarity, you can set each accordingly to advance your career. You need each, but you can’t reach one without the other.

Too many growth-focused leaders waste time, effort, and opportunity by winging it. Without a plan, you’ll spend a lot of time chasing distractions. Those who advance in their career do this by understanding the difference between goals and objectives and creating a strategic plan accordingly.

How to Use Objectives to Create and Accomplish Growth-Focused Goals

Every day is a new opportunity to create and work toward accomplishing goals that bring freedom, financial security, fulfillment, and career advancement to your life. You’ll need a roadmap if you’re going to achieve growth-focused goals.

The best way to accomplish your goals and advance your career is to set objectives for each goal. Remember, objectives are the specific tasks that help you create a plan to achieve each goal. Setting the proper objectives can help you get a raise, a promotion, and show a company why you deserve advancement in your career.

It starts with what you’d like to accomplish in your career—where is this all going? You’ll need clarity about your short-term and longer-term goals. In the short term, it could be a raise that you’re seeking. In the longer term, you may like a position of leadership and more responsibility. You then need to get a piece of paper, your favorite goal-setting app, or your notes on your phone and write out your goals. It would help if you saw them. People are visual by nature.

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Write out your career goals. With the primary goals written out, it’s time to set objectives for each goal. The goals are the designation, but you’ll need checkmarks and specific steps to accomplish them. Objectives are essential to staying focused and consistent. Take each goal and break them into bite-sized chunks. When you break down a goal, it allows you to see the specific steps you’ll need to take to reach that goal.

If your goal is a raise, what extra effort do you need to put in your work to show value for your company? Map out what those specific steps are and make them your objectives. If your goal is a promotion or other career advancement opportunities, map out the specifics to get there and set objectives.

Writing out the goals then the objectives clarifies what you should be doing, what order you should do it, and sets a realistic timeline to accomplish your life and career goals. There’s fear that comes with setting big goals. Limiting beliefs try to convince you to keep your goals to yourself and not put them anywhere besides in your mind. Writing out your goals helps make them real, and it’s how you make a commitment to yourself.

You have to take your goals seriously if you’re going to advance in your career. This means making the goals real by setting objectives and putting those goals in a place of accountability. Don’t take the easy road by keeping your goals inside and not feeling the consequences of not taking action.

Using Goals and Objectives Strategically to Advance Your Career

We’re currently experiencing a shift in the world of work. People are deciding to quit rather than spend 40+ hours every week building a career that doesn’t fulfill them and help them accomplish their goals. This is good news because it creates opportunities for advancement.

If you are not fulfilled in your career, then maybe you should be thinking about whether or not a shift makes sense. If you enjoy what you do and see your career advancing you towards accomplishing your goals, it’s essential to set strategic objectives that help you achieve your growth goals.

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After you’ve taken the time to set your goals—and the objectives that let you accomplish those goals—it’s time to get to work. You can’t advance your career and achieve your goals without being willing to do hard work and do it consistently.

The thing to understand is that accomplishing objectives that help you reach your goals is a process that takes time. Too often, we want instant gratification. Living a life of accomplishment and career advancement is not instant and will require consistent hard work.

Create Goals and Objectives That Challenge You

If you accomplish every goal that you set, your goals aren’t lofty enough. The path to growth and advancing in your career happens when you set ambitious goals. You should look at your goals and have a slight fear of how high they are.

Strategically planned objectives are powerful. As ambitious as your goals are, well-thought-out objectives can help you stay focused and accomplish anything. In addition to lofty goals, you should set higher-standard objectives. Growth is the goal, and that requires a bigger vision.

Create goals and objectives that challenge you to be better in your career and add value to your company. Come into this with an understanding that you’re doing all of this to create an incredible life. Challenge yourself because you deserve to accomplish your objectives and reach your goals.

Too many take the easy road and set achievable goals. Goals and objectives that challenge you expand your belief in what’s possible and strengthen your mindset. A strong mindset is how you’ll get the energy you need to work on your goals for a sustained period.

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Final Thoughts

It’s important to understand the difference between goals and objectives to advance your career. You need both, but they need to have their proper place to work together. Clarity in what to do and how to do it is how you set goals and use objectives to achieve them.

Don’t confuse an objective for a goal—objectives are the steps, and goals are the prize. Be strategic with the objectives you create to help you accomplish your goals.

Advancing your career is the key to creating financial security, building wealth, and working to build a life of freedom. Goals and their objectives help you grow and become the best version of yourself. Understand the difference between goals and objectives, and use them to advance your career.

More About Setting And Achieving Goals

Featured photo credit: Smart via unsplash.com

Reference

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