The SMART acronym is a great tool to ensure Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely goals.
It helps us clarify what we want to accomplish and set deadlines to produce the results we want in the timeframes we need. It works perfectly from creating your personal to-do list to setting powerful goals and action steps for others to propel your organization forward.
Apply these six steps to an upcoming goal (personal or professional) and notice how it changes your ability to accomplish it. Consider sharing this process with your team and teach them how to think, be, and execute SMARTer.
Consider your INTENTIONS.
Before fine-tuning your goals and action steps, ask:
- What result do I seek?
- Why is this important to me/my organization?
- If I don’t accomplish this goal, how will my career/life, self-esteem, job satisfaction be impacted?
Make it SPECIFIC.
If your goal or action step isn’t 100% clear to others, you risk confusion. After formulating your request, ask:
- If someone reads this goal or action step, will they be able to execute it without further explanation?
- Does it address who, what, when, and where?
- Is it short and concise?
Make it MEASURABLE.
You probably know the saying, “What gets measured gets done.” Measurable goals and action steps are more likely to generate results because they produce clear deliverables. Ask:
- How will I know when this goal/milestone has been accomplished? To what standard?
- How will I measure it? How frequently will I do so?
- Do those who are part of fulfilling this goal know what the measurable results are?
Make it ATTAINABLE.
Perhaps you want to be promoted. Maybe wish to take a sabbatical and travel the world. While these goals are exciting, they may not be attainable now. When designing goals and action steps, ask:
- Can this goal (with some stretching) be accomplished in the timeframe indicated? If not, break the goal down into smaller pieces, and write a goal statement for the first step.
- If I can’t meet this goal within the timeframe, how can I accomplish it?
Make it RELEVANT.
When goals aren’t relevant, they land on the back burner. To ensure relevance, ask:
- How does this goal align with the bigger picture (personally and professionally)?
- What “pains” will I experience if I don’t meet this goal?
- Is this the right time to accomplish this goal?
Make it TIMED.
Most goals fail because they lack deadlines. For procrastinators, that means the same goals appear repeatedly on planning sheets. To prevent this, ask:
- Have I established and communicated appropriate check-ins, due dates, and drop deadlines?
- Have I established milestones/ timelines for contributing activities?
- When do I want to accomplish my goal?