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How To Set SMART Goals

Kate William

9 min read

Setting smart goals allows us to focus on things that are important to achieve the goal instead of going about it with wavering concentration. A goal gives us guidance, direction, a clear focus and clarity. By setting smart goals, you put yourself in a position where you get closer to it by following the ideas outlined in them.

What is a SMART goal?

A SMART goal helps with goal setting. The SMART in smart goals stands for the following:

S- Specific:

The goal that you are setting should be specific in nature. You cannot have something random as a goal. The goal should be so specific that it can be clearly defined, is clear for the person who aims to achieve them and there should be no ambiguity surrounding it.

M- Measurable:

The measurable part of a SMART goal means that it should be something that can be easily quantifiable. When your goal is measurable, you can easily know how far you have gone during your journey. It will also help you identify when you have accomplished your goal. 

A- Achievable:

The goal should be achievable and not something that will be considered impossible. You cannot shoot for the moon because it is impossible to achieve it, but you can use it as a phrase when you hope to achieve something monumental. Do you understand the difference between the two when setting smart goals? Make sure that the goal you want to achieve is humanly possible.

R- Relevant: 

The R in SMART goals is to ensure that you aim for the goal should be relevant. It should be something that is within your reach, is relevant to the bigger goals that you have in life and is realistic. 

T- Timely:

The goal that you are hoping to achieve should have a time frame attached to it. When there is no timeframe given, it will set in a considerable amount of laxity. When there is a start date and an end date in mind, it creates a sense of urgency, and you will be more enthused about working on it.

What is the importance of setting smart goals?

‘How to set smart goals’ to achieve an objective is something that each one of us should ask at various intervals in our life. When there are no clear goals in our mind, it affects the rest of the things in our life too. Having something that motivates us to get up every day itself is a boon. It will make us eat healthy, keep our bodies active and thoughts forward-looking. 

When you are setting smart goals, you will be able to understand what are the exact resources that you require for achieving them. Having a specific goal ensures that you will be able to set aside some time for it specifically every day or week. It will allow you to see the progress that is being made on the goals front as well. Based on how you’ve handled the goal so far, you will be able to see if the goal is realistic or not. Ensuring that the goal is relevant to the person pursuing the goal is something that is only possible when you are setting smart goals. On top of all of this, having a time-bound goal gives the person a timeframe where they can keep themselves accountable. 

Let us look at each of the parts in SMART goals:

How to set smart goals: SPECIFIC

If your goal is ambiguous and doesn’t have clarity in it, you would never know even if you have achieved it. Instead of saying that you want to increase the number of survey responses, which is a vague goal, you should say, I want to 5x my survey responses. Isn’t that more specific? 

When there is specificity in the goal, you know exactly where you are headed. So when you are about to set goals, make sure that you have something that you expect from the entire exercise. 

Here are some questions that you should ask as a part of smart goal setting:

  1. What is it that I want to accomplish?
  2. Why is this goal important to me?
  3. Who are the stakeholders involved in this?
  4. Where is this goal to be achieved?
  5. Which are the resources that I use here? 
  6. When do I want to achieve this goal? 

Example of SPECIFIC while setting SMART goals:

Let us say you are currently working as a marketing executive. Your goal is to become the Marketing head. While this is not a vague goal, it is still not specific. 

How can you make it specific?

Here is how you can make it specific-”I want to learn all the technology tools and learn in-depth about the workings of the various marketing departments so that I can qualify myself to become the marketing head.” 

How is the above statement for specificity? Doesn’t this increase the clarity of the goal? Someone whose goal is akin to the above one will know the kind of resources that are required to make it happen. 

How to set SMART goals: MEASURABLE:

Now that you have a specific goal in mind, the next step is to make it measurable. Let us take the example from the previous point. You want to become the Marketing Head of your company. 

How can you make it measurable? You need to list down the different marketing departments on which you need to gain expertise. Also, you need to study the various marketing tools that are necessary for the job. When you learn each of these, you will be getting closer to your goal. You will be able to measure the progress, and you will also be able to gauge if the goal is manageable. 

It is important to have specific things attached to your goal because you will be able to measure them. When you are not able to measure your goal, you never really know where you are headed to, and that makes the entire exercise difficult to follow. 

A measurable goal should be able to address the following questions:

  1. How many/much?
  2. How do I know when I have reached my goal?
  3. What are the indicators based on which I will know if I have reached my goals?

Example of MEASURABLE while setting SMART goals:

Your goal of becoming the Marketing Head also needs to be measured so you can check the progress periodically. While pursuing this goal, you can measure progress based on the number of tools that you are gaining mastery over and the various  departments that you are concentrating on. Every tool learnt or every department interacted with brings you closer to your goal of becoming the marketing head. 

How to set SMART goals: ACHIEVABLE

While you can aim for anything and there are no restraints, it is wise to only go after those that are humanly achievable. Lofty goals should be supported by adequate resources, but they are still lofty ones at that. 

Even while setting really big goals, you need to be confident that it is achievable. The goals that you keep can stretch the limits of your resources and personal strength, but they should be attainable. While setting smart goals, you should be ready to put in as much effort as possible to make it happen. 

There should be scalable processes that make the goals achievable. Let’s say you don’t get enough resources to work with, how are you going to achieve the goal. If you set goals that are not achievable, it will only bring down your morale and make everything seem impossible. You might lose your steam in working with other things too, that’s not good for your productivity. Always set goals that can be achieved, no matter how difficult you think it is. By setting smart goals, you will know the exact steps required to achieve them. 

An achievable goal should address the following questions:

  1. How do I accomplish this goal?
  2. Is my goal achievable? 
  3. Do I have enough resources to make it happen? 

Example of ACHIEVABLE while setting SMART goals:

Let us use the same example of becoming the Marketing Head as a goal. If your aim is to study the tools and understand the various facets of Marketing in four months, is that a reasonable goal? Absolutely not. You cannot stifle your progress by hoping to achieve something that just doesn’t make sense. The goal should be achievable. 

Just to be well-versed with a single tool, it might take months. While you can learn most of these tools while on the job, there are certain tools that might require extra effort, time and practice to master. 

Or hoping that you can become the marketing head while being a marketing executive without upskilling. That’s also not an achievable goal. That’s just ridiculous hoping on your part. 

You also need to ask yourself if developing the skills required to become the marketing head is a realistic goal based on your credentials and qualifications. Do you have the resources? Do you have the necessary qualifications? Do you have necessary support from various quarters? Does your present employer look at you as a viable candidate to become the marketing head? 

How to set SMART goals: RELEVANT

The R in SMART stands for Relevant. You need to ask yourself if the goal that you are pursuing currently is relevant to who you are and what you are as a person. By taking the previous example of becoming the marketing head of your organization as being your goal, is that goal relevant to you? Let’s say you are in the operations team, wouldn’t your goal of being a marketing head become irrelevant? Does it make sense for you to go after it?

Is the goal that you are thinking of pursuing something that others are looking to achieve? Or has it been already achieved by someone who was in your position? There are certain things that are not relevant at all. When your skill sets are not directly in congruence with what you aim to achieve, you might want to shift your goal posts. Otherwise, you will be knocking on the wrong doors. 

Make sure that you are setting smart goals that you have control over. The goals you set should be relevant for you, your business and qualifications. When the goals you set are not relevant to you, you are setting yourself up for failure.

The R part of setting smart goals is to ensure that the goal matters to you and it also aligns with your other goals. Apart from getting support for your goals, you also need to ensure that they are important to you. You should not choose a goal randomly because it seems like a good thing to achieve. 

Here are a few questions on relevance that you need to ask while setting SMART goals:

  1. Is this goal worthwhile for me?
  2. Am I at the right place to achieve this?
  3. Does this goal align well with my other goals?
  4. Am I the right person to pursue this goal?
  5. Does this goal apply to the current market scenario?

Example of RELEVANT while setting SMART goals:

If your goal is to become a marketing head, but if it is not relevant to you at present, should you still pursue it? Absolutely not. 

Your goal of becoming the marketing head of your company can also be something that you pursue after a period of time once you have the right circumstances. Just because you have a worthy goal in mind doesn’t mean that it is worthy for all the reasons. 

Pick and choose your battles. If you need to take a step back, then do it. For example, you might have just welcomed your child into your family, would you have the time to concentrate on your goal of becoming the marketing head? Well, it is something that only you can answer based on your unique circumstances. 

How to set SMART goals: TIME-BOUND

While setting smart goals, you want to make sure that there is a particular time that you have in mind to accomplish it. Apart from creating a sense of urgency in accomplishing this goal, having a time-bound goal will also tell you when you have crossed the time you had in mind and it looks as if it is time to face the reality and accept that this goal is not worth pursuing anymore because of the time you are spending on it. 

Time-bound goals give you the right kind of push so that you can exert more work from yourself. It will allow you to see how much you have accomplished over a time-frame. It will help you also keep a benchmark for yourself where you have a goal where you accomplish a bit more than what you did during the previous time. 

When there are timelines and milestones that have been put down, you will be able to see the kind of progress you are making over time. 

Here are a few questions on timeliness that you need to ask while setting SMART goals:

  • When do I accomplish this task?
  • Six months down the line, where do I see myself?
  • What should be the kind of progress that I display in four weeks?
  • Which daily tasks do I need to do to make sure I achieve my goal on time?
  • What are the deadlines for different milestones?

Example of TIME-BOUND while setting SMART goals:

Becoming the marketing head of your company is no easy task. A lot of things should fall in place for that to happen, starting from getting the right resources to setting smart objectives. How long do you think it will take for you to have enough skills to become the marketing head of your company? Or what are the kinds of certifications that you need to get? How much time will it take for each of them? If you need training on certain marketing tools, how much time will you take to get them done?

Wrapping Up

The importance and relevance of setting smart targets cannot be discounted ever because it puts you on the right path to achieving them. Setting smart goals provides you with clarity, and the right kind of motivation to accomplish them. Most people fail to accomplish their goals by not setting smart goals because the goals they set are not objective. Some of these goals tend to be unrealistic, there is hardly any sense of clarity and not to forget how general most of these goals are. 

By setting smart goals, you set yourself up for success by making sure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. They make you much more organized in achieving your goals. You will have an anchor which makes it possible to base your focus and decisions on the objectives outlined in your SMART goals. We hope that this article has taught you how to set smart goals. 

If you would like to do online surveys, you can take the help of a tool like SurveySparrow. No matter what type of surveys you want to do, market research surveys or even an internal one, you can do all of them with incredible ease. Get in touch with us and we would be more than happy to tell you how SurveySparrow can help you grow your business. 

Kate William

Content Marketer at SurveySparrow

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