The Importance of Goal-Setting
Goals give purpose to our actions and are a major consideration of the ‘Success Blueprint‘. They provide the direction and motivation needed to be successful in our endeavours, acting as ‘stepping stones’ to track our progress. Goal-setting should incorporate both long-term and short-term goals, to ensure that we set ourselves realistic and achievable targets. This brings us to the acronym that we’re going to dissect in this article, SMART goals.
The term was first coined by George Doran in a 1981 article for Management Review titled ‘There’s a S.M.A.R.T way to write management’s goals and objectives‘. Whilst this article was written for the context of business management, the idea itself is not exclusively for business application. Since 1981, the term has been further developed, and can be presented in a number of ways, according to Robert S Rubin. Below, we’ve chosen what we believe to be the most helpful term for each letter of the acronym, to describe the process of defining realistic goals.
Exactly what are you aiming to achieve? Don’t be vague, be precise. This will help you to define the steps that you’ll need to take in order to achieve your goal. The more specific your SMART goal is, the easier it will be to identify the path that will get you there. In previous posts, we have referred to this path as the ‘short term goals’ and ‘regular activities’ necessary for overall success.
How will you measure your progress? Consider the criteria that must be met in order to continue moving towards your end goal, and ensure that these points are clearly defined. Now, consider how you will measure the success of your overall goal. Is your SMART goal specific enough for you to clearly define what your success will look like? As well as setting a specific goal, set specific targets that will allow you to track your progress and encourage you to continue towards the ultimate outcome.
Make sure your goal is a realistic one. It’s okay to reach for the stars, but sometimes you need to focus on making it outside of the Earth’s atmosphere first. That is to say, the achievement of realistic goals, will make those less-attainable goals more attainable. Similar to above, long-term goals need short-term goals, and broken down further, regular activities, in order to be successful. Naturally, your shorter-term goals will be relatively easier to achieve in comparison to your long-term one.
This point encourages you to consider if your goal is relevant to you, your environment, and your needs/wants. Your SMART goals should be aligned with your values and principles. How will they contribute to your overall development, and how do they relate to any other future aspirations/goals? Chasing large goals can affect other areas of your life, so consider whether it is a wise life-choice before embarking on your journey.
Perhaps one of the most important points of the SMART goals acronym. This brings us back to specificity in a way… Exactly how long are you going to allow yourself to achieve your goal? By setting deadlines for each task, you’ll keep yourself on track. This also takes us back to the ‘measurable’ point. Completing tasks within a time frame that you’ve set provides a measurable point of success. Or perhaps you didn’t meet the time frame? That’s okay too, it still provides a measurable benchmark that you can improve on.
Are SMART Goals Flawless?
Nothing, and no-one is perfect. SMART goals are a fantastic tool to plan and analyse the goals we set for ourselves. But there are other considerations we should make during the goal-setting phase. Because, just like interests, goals can change. Measures of success can change. So, we must be able to adapt throughout our journey in order to achieve our goals. That is why critical self-reflection is so important. If you have been unable to meet the targets outlined by your SMART goals, then you need to understand why. Our mistakes and failures are but invaluable lessons that provide the basis for our success. Absorb these experiences, and use them to refine and re-implement your SMART goals.
If you don’t start today, you’ll wish you had tomorrow. Use the SMART goals acronym to refine and re-implement your current goals, and give yourself the best chance at achieving success. We sure hope you’ve found this article helpful, and we are forever grateful that you’ve taken the time to read it! So, as always, thanks very much, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.