Business Bites: SMART Goals
SMART Goals is a helpful guide to goal setting with clear objectives. This method encourages businesses to plan for the future for the likelihood of achieving success. Developed in 1981, SMART is an acronym that corresponds with the following: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound. These five criteria provide organizations starting or growing their business, a framework to measure goals. Subscribe to this podcast today and so you never miss an episode!
Welcome to Business Bites. My name is Sara. This is the podcast for busy professionals who want the quick hits of business terminology, historical context, and strategies for integration. Today we'll be talking about SMART goals.
SMART goals were first developed in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. SMART goals is an acronym for thinking about goal design and goal development. Each of the letters S-M-A-R and T correspond to a different aspect of thinking about goal design and development.
The S in SMART stands for specific. When you're thinking about your specific goal, have you taken the time to be really clear about what you're trying to accomplish and achieve? If you handed the goal to someone else, would they know what it is that you're trying to work on? Do you know what outcomes you're hoping to have or the effect that you're looking to produce?
The M stands for measurable. When we're thinking about measurable, this isn't just putting in a metric, but really making sure that you have the right metric in place to be able to assess how far along you are in your goal objective, or whether you're complete. So if you're designing a metric thinking about, is it quality? Is it a quantity? Is it perhaps a frequency that you're trying to meet or a standard that you're trying to uphold? This specificity in what the measure is will help you understand your progress along that path.
The A in SMART goals stands for achievable. Your goal should be a mix of both a little bit of realistic, but also a bit of a stretch. If it's too easy, you won't want to work on it, and if it's too hard, you won't want to work on it either. So making sure that the goal you have in mind is a little bit of a stretch is important, and you may have to adjust your goal up or down as time goes on. The next component of achievable is thinking about whether you can actually achieve it. This means do you understand all of the different variables that are in play for this specific goal? Do you have the ability to actually get it done? Is it in your scope of responsibility? And do you have the appropriate level of authority or influence to be able to make those decisions?
The R in SMART goals stands for relevant. If this is a personal goal, does it have some relevancy in your life? Does it matter in some way? If this is a professional goal, does it tie to the business objectives or your specific roles objectives as you're going to be working on it? This relevancy will help you assess whether or not, at the end of the day, if you've accomplished this goal, it mattered. Was it worth spending the time and energy on it? This is often a really hard question to answer and to think about because sometimes we set goals on things we want to do, but they aren't really connected to our specific goals in any concrete way. It's important to think about relevancy as you're designing that goal.
The last component of a SMART goal is the T. It's either time-linked or time-bound. What's important to consider here is, is the date that you're setting important? Does it matter? We know when we're setting an arbitrary date of the end of the month or the end of the week, or perhaps even the end of the year, but is there some reason why it needs to happen at that time? Our brains are really smart, and so what can happen is we know if we've set an arbitrary date or if our bosses set an arbitrary date, and because of that, we will snooze the goal ourselves rather than push towards completion. It's important to ask yourself, does the date really matter? And will it actually hold you to completing that goal in a timely manner?
I'd like to walk you through an example of how a SMART goal might look. A basic goal that we might set is, I want to run a marathon next year. Now, on the surface, that could seem like a SMART goal. I've got the specificity of doing a marathon. I've got the time bound of next year. Achievable, well, I might need to put in a little bit of work. But how could we make it more SMART? So the specificity here would be, which marathon am I looking to run? There's a big difference between running a New York marathon or a marathon in the woods.
Next, thinking about the measure. It could be that completing the goal, completing that specific marathon is part of it, but maybe the registration process is what I'm hoping to do, or being able to qualify for that marathon. Not every marathon everyone can sign up for. So it could be a different type of goal when you think about the measure in that way.
Now, achievable, you're probably going to be the only one who will know whether or not you can actually run a marathon next year. But it's important to think about, do you understand and have all those variables in check? Perhaps you have other responsibilities in your life. And so being able to dedicate the appropriate amount of time to training might be challenging if this is something you're going to do. So if you are someone who's, let's say working, has a family involved, you choosing to run a marathon next year might be a family decision to be able to dedicate that time for it. Considering that when you're thinking about achievable.
Let's talk about relevancy. Why are you wanting to run this marathon? Is it tied to some personal goals, perhaps a professional goal? Is there a health goal involved? It's important to understand the objective behind this because when you're struggling three months into training, you want to be really clear about why this goal matters so that you're being able to tie back to it.
And the last is time-linked. This is especially helpful when we're thinking about a long goal. Let's say a year, two, three years in the making. It's not just the end goal in mind. I need to be able to qualify by this date, or the race is going to happen on this date. You'll be able to set milestones along the way as you're thinking about how that goal's going to be accomplished over the longer period of time. That way you'll know you'll be successful in the long run.
As you're thinking about SMART goals in general, I encourage you to get feedback as you're developing them. Sometimes it feels easy on the surface to create a SMART goal, but as we talk with someone else, either a peer or trusted colleague, it will be helpful to get their feedback on it, whether or not it's clear enough.
This has been Sara with Business Bites. And you can reach me at [email protected] We would love to hear from you and any other terminology that you would like to hear bite-sized. As always, give us a quick rating on your platform of choice and share this podcast with a friend.
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