Specific addresses the questions: What? Why? How? It’s what you would like to achieve, why it’s important for you to accomplish it, and how you will achieve your goal. Some examples are:
- I’m going to lose six pounds over the next 45 days.
- I will take on two new clients this month for a total of $2500 in revenue.
- I will publish a weekly newsletter with one 500-word article per issue.
- I will call two past clients every week and invite them to lunch.
- I will attend two networking events each month with the goal of meeting at least 5 new business contacts.
To make a goal specific, use action verbs like create, design, publish, call, attend, implement, or produce as well as giving the goal a firm deadline for completion.
Measurable means you have set criteria and benchmarks for when you achieve that goal. You will know if you’ve lost six pounds or gained $2500 in revenue or called up two past clients each week. Even if you only make $2000 that month or make one phone call to a past client each week, you know you’ve made progress. To make something measurable, answer the questions by when and how many/much? What criteria and target dates will you use to know if your goal has been accomplished.
- Instead of “more money,” you want to make an extra $2000 per month
- Instead of “more clients,” you want to attract two new clients
- Instead of “losing weight,” you want to lose six pounds
Focus on numeric values and outcomes, not actions. For instance, if you want to attract two new clients, your primary metrics aren’t number of calls made or number of letters sent or number of new contacts you’ve met. Instead, consider how many new client contracts you’ve signed or the monetary value of the checks received.
Achievable means you actually believe you can achieve your goal. If you just “hope” those results will somehow come into your life, you don’t have a goal, you have a wish. Set goals that will motivate you to achieve them.
Whether something is attainable to you depends on a number of factors. Attitude is the first, but also consider if you have the skills, ability, environment and financial means to achieve this goal. Is it feasible with the resources you currently have available?
Also consider the scope and magnitude of your goal. Some people are energized and highly motivated by setting big goals. Others find large projects overwhelming and frustrating. Know yourself. Are you better with larger projects or smaller, task-focused goals? Plan wisely based on how you work, not what you *should* do or what others want you to do.
Realistic and Relevant
The “R” in SMART can stand for either realistic or relevant. Realistic goals are those that you are willing and able to work towards achieving. It’s possible for you to achieve this goal. You believe you can achieve it. And you are willing to commit the resources required to achieve it.
Some goals are virtually impossible. If you hope to lose twenty pounds by next week, it’s probably not going to happen unless you opt for surgery. If you’re currently making $30,000 and you want to make $1 million by next year, again, while it is theoretically possible with a lot of hard work, dedication and a great team, it’s unlikely to happen.
Other goals are more visionary. Bringing about “world peace” or “ending global poverty” are much too big for one person to accomplish. They make for great mission statements and you can certainly do your part to make the world a better place such as volunteering at a local shelter or donating a percentage of your income to charity, but unless you have a magic genie to grant your wish, you alone won’t accomplish those goals.
Also consider how relevant this goal is to your life right now. Why is it important that you make progress at this time? How will it enhance your current lifestyle?
Finally, your goal should have a target completion date to instill a sense of urgency. Many people never get around to doing something unless they are under deadline, so set a specific date when you hope to have your goal accomplished.
Deadlines make us accountable for our goals. When you set a deadline, especially if you tell people about it, you are motivated to get things done in a timely fashion. A great way to hold yourself accountable for your goals is to take a contract out on yourself via Stickk.com.
On that website, you can set a goal, and then wager money that you’ll actually achieve the goal. For instance, you can say that you will write two articles per week for two months and commit $100 of your own money to achieving your goal. Stickk checks in with you each week and asks if you’ve achieved that goal for the week. If so, they will deposit a portion of your $100 back into your account. If you achieve your goal for the full time commitment, you will get all your money back. If not, they will donate it to a charity of your choosing.
To further motivate you, Stickk even allows you to pick a charity you dislike and would never willingly donate money to. So if you don’t achieve your goal that week, they will donate that week’s portion of your money to your “anti-charity.”
SMART Goal Examples
Here are a few vague intentions converted into SMART goals:
- Not Smart: Get clients
Smart: Get 3 new clients paying at least $1000 for web design work by the end of each month.
- Not Smart: Make more money
Smart: Make at least $1000 per month by spending 15 hours per week offering freelance writing services.
- Not Smart: Take more vacation time
Smart: I will only work Monday through Friday mornings so I have Friday afternoons free, and will take 3 weeks of vacation each year.
- Not Smart: Write more articles for blog
Smart: I will publish 3 articles per week of 500-700 words by noon on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
By setting SMART goals, you clearly define what you want to accomplish and then focus your efforts on achieving the results you want. They explain exactly what you want, how you’ll do it, when you’ll do it by, and how you’ll measure your progress.