I first learned about SMART goals back in my corporate days, and they reigned as the only way to set goals. When I was in sales, we had to come up with 3 SMART goals each quarter, and they needed our boss’s approval. If they didn’t meet all the SMART qualifications, then we had to redo them. This process taught me why they are essential, how to write correct ones and the pitfalls of only using this goal-setting method.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are a structured type of goal-setting strategy. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.
This method creates concrete goals, where the outcome is clear and defined. These goals will hold yourself accountable because they provide a firmer framework. Because they are so specific, you either achieve the goal, or you do not. There is no gray area with this type of method.
SMART goals are great for businesses and teams. There is no confusion on what the goal is and what it means to reach it.
These goals can be very discouraging to beginning entrepreneurs. An example will be if you are setting SMART goals for your new business. You want to publish one blog post a week for 12 weeks. You might not realize at the time, but it may not be attainable (the A in SMART). When you are new to creating a blog post, you may not realize all the things that go into it like researching, writing, editing, designing graphics, and sharing. If you are not achieving the goal by your deadline, then it can be very discouraging. This discouragement may make the person not want to set them anymore.
What does SMART stand for?
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. But what does that mean? Let’s break it down letter by letter.
S – Specific: You goal is well-defined and focused. It answers who, what, & where.
M – Measurable: The metrics you will use to determine if you met your goal. It defines how much or how many.
A – Attainable: This defines if your goal realistic to achieve with the parameters you set and the time, money, and/or energy you currently have. If you do not have control over the outcome, it is not attainable. For example, you do not have control over how many email subscribers join your list. But, You do have control over how you will reach those subscribers — examples include reaching new people through blog posts, Facebook ads, and social media. You have control over the number of blog posts you publish and how often you share content on social media.
R – Relevant: Does this goal matter to you? Does it make sense for you to set this goal? Is this the right time to tackle this goal? This answers why.
T – Timely: Every goal needs a timeframe in which you plan to accomplish it. An open-ended goal is nearly impossible to achieve. A deadline helps hold the goal-setter accountable. This answers when.
How to write a SMART goal
It might seem daunting at first to write a SMART goal. Do not run for the hills yet! Smart goal-setting can be easy, once you get the hang of it. Follow the below steps to create your SMART goal.
1. What is the outcome you wish to achieve?
Let’s use our previous example of email subscribers. The outcome you wish to achieve is to get more email subscribers for your business. As we said above, we need to make an attainable goal. We have no control if someone decides to sign up for your email list or not. But that is the outcome we want. Write it down.
2. What are concrete ways you can achieve that outcome?
This next step is how you can achieve the outcome listed in step 1. Let’s stay with our email subscriber example. You cannot control if someone signs up, but you can control how many blog posts you publish. This action might get more people to your website, and its possible more people would sign up for emails. That is one concrete idea that you have control over. Another idea would be posting more on social media or invest in advertising. Write these ways to achieve under the outcome from step one.
3. Answer the SMART Goal acronym Questions
Pick one of the concrete ways to achieve the desired outcome from step two. Answer the SMART Goal acronym Questions.
- Specific: Who is involved with this goal? What specifically do you want to accomplish? Where is this goal to be achieved? What resources are required?
- Measurable: How will you know when you accomplished this goal? What metrics will you use? How much? How many?
- Attainable: Is this attainable? Is your goal realistic to achieve with the parameters you set and the time, money, energy you currently have? Do you have control over the outcome?
- Relevant: Does this goal matter to you? Does it make sense for you to set this goal? Is this the right time to tackle this goal? Why?
- Timely: When are you going to complete this goal?
Examples of Smart Goals
First, let’s continue with our email subscriber example. The outcome we want to achieve is more email subscribers. We are going to try to accomplish that by publishing more blog posts.
An example of a SMART Goal for this situation may look like this:
I will write, edit, and publish 1 article a week for 12 weeks so I can increase the website traffic to my blog and grow my email list.
This goal is specific because it tells you what you will be doing by writing, editing, and publishing. It is measurable because, at the end of 12 weeks, you should have 12 articles. It is attainable and relevant to your business. It is time-bound because you have 12 weeks to accomplish it.
Smart goal examples for work
- Attend three networking events by June 1st so I can meet other entrepreneurs.
- Complete online sales training and workbook by Oct 15th and implement my training into my sales process by Oct 30th.
- Gain new social media followers by creating and posting new content to Instagram and Facebook once a day for 30 days.
Personal Smart goal examples
- I will go to the gym three times a week for the next six months to create a healthier lifestyle and habits.
- For 2019, I will read one book a month to reduce my amount of screen time.
- I will save $100 a week for ten weeks so I can go on a vacation for Labor Day.
Pitfalls of SMART Goal-Setting
As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are pitfalls with the SMART goal setting method. SMART goals can be discouraging to entrepreneurs, especially when you start something new. An example will be if you are setting SMART goals for your new business. You want to publish one blog post a week for 12 weeks. You might not realize at the time, but it may not be attainable (the A in SMART). This unattainability is because you may not understand all the things that go into creating a blog post (researching, writing, editing, designing graphics, and sharing). If you are not achieving the goal by your deadline, then it can be very discouraging. This discouragement may make the person not want to set them anymore.
Be sure to keep the attainable part of SMART in your mind when you are setting your goals.
SMART Goal Setting Template & Worksheet
It is super easy to create a SMART Goal template. To create your SMART Goal worksheet, copy everything from how to write a smart goal section into a document. Then, you can follow the steps while typing your answers. No need to download anything!
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