I feel to invite everyone to rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity, I hope you will not nag yourselves with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass. ~ Gordon B. Hinckley
I really like the above quote. For goals to be worthwhile, they must be SMART goals. Each year I set SMART goals for myself and my employees. The SMART goals range from personal and team development goals to process improvement goals. When I set those goals, I make sure that they are not easy to accomplish. At the same time, they are not goals that are far beyond reach and/or unrealistic.
So, what are SMART Goals?
The word “SMART” in SMART goals is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. For a goal to be a SMART goal, it must meet the following criteria.
It is very important to set very specific goals. It is easy to set a lofty, “up in the air” goal that cannot be understood. A goal that is not specific and “up in the air” is ambiguous and leads to confusion. An example of this type of goal would be to say, “We want to make the organization better this year.” How will you make the organization better? What changes will you make? How can you know if you reached your goal if you don’t know what your goal is?
Specific goals explain exactly what you want to do and how you are going to do it. In line with the goal mentioned above, what will you do to make the organization better? Will you increase profit by 20%? If so, how will you increase the profit by 20%? A specific goals would sound more like, “This year we will increase the profit by 20% by eliminating down time between shifts.” From there you would set specific subgoals that would break down how you would eliminate the down time. Each goal would be very specific.
When a goal is measurable, it is quantifiable. In the example above, the increase in profit by 20% is a measurable quantity. 20% is a measurable amount. If your goal is not measurable, how will you know if you achieved it or not? You won’t.
As the quote mentioned, you should not set a goal that is far beyond your capacity. Achievable goals are challenging and force you to stretch but they are not beyond reach. Achievable goals promote growth and progress. If you set unachievable goals, you will never reach your expectations which could lead to discouragement. Set goals that are within your control so they are achievable.
Goals need to be realistic. For example, if you are short, don’t have any athletic ability, and have never played basketball, you shouldn’t set the goal of being a professional basketball player. If, however, you are athletic, tall, and a basketball player, becoming a professional basketball player is a realistic goal. Set goals that are realistic so you can achieve them.
Do you have long, middle, and short-term goals? Timely goals have a specific deadline or time period in which they must be completed. If you set a goal that has no time frame, you have no date for completion, and you will most likely fall short. Timely goals are very important in the business world. Companies like Apple and Microsoft hit their product goals in their specified time frame, which allowed them to obtain their current market share.
Goals can be very painful or they can be SMART goals. If you set SMART goals, you will be far more likely to see consistent improvement regularly because you will have specific targets. I have found that as I have set SMART goals for myself and others, the goals have been more challenging and rewarding at the same time. They have forced me to exert more effort and try harder.
Do you set SMART goals? What benefits have you seen from using SMART goals? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!