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How to Write SMART Goals: Explained with Examples

Goals are stepping stones to your destination. Setting the right goals at the right time makes the journey towards your success clear and achievable. They help you focus and creates direction for everyone in the organization. Making goals help you prioritize the next big thing that’s on your list.

Oftentimes it is easier to lose sight of the reasons why you started something. Having set goals makes you feel good about the small achievements and keeps you excited for the ones yet to come. Furthermore, goals give meaning to everyday tasks, help you see the bigger picture while also paying attention to the present.

Clearly, goals are essential for any business, but how effectively you set them defines their efficacy. Setting the wrong goals stagnates growth and disheartens you. Therefore, set quantifiable goals. In this article, you will learn the SMART method of setting goals.

What are SMART goals?

Most times, we make goals that are very vague and ones that lack a plan that will help you achieve them. For instance, when you set a goal such as “I will eat better” or “I will make more money,” these don’t mention the process, the time, or any specifics of the goal.

Vague and immeasurable goals are unachievable because there is no clear metric to judge their success or failure.

SMART is a method that will help you create clear and measurable goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are the 5 attributes that should be kept in mind while making goals.

This concept was first introduced in 1989 by George T. Doran, a consultant and former director of corporate planning for Washington Water Power Company. In his paper ‘There’s a Smart Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives’, he describes SMART goals as a tool for businesses to make success more feasible.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the traits of SMART goals.

How to set SMART goals?

Now you know that setting goals are not something you do on a whim, but an explicit and thoroughly evaluated process. These are the five steps that you need to follow while creating SMART goals:

  1. Add specific details
  2. Mention how you will measure it
  3. Make sure it is attainable
  4. Make it relevant
  5. Create a timeline

Now, let’s see how to write SMART goals.

Step 1: Add specific details

The first step to creating SMART goals is to describe your goal clearly and mention details that will help you achieve that goal. These are the five ‘W’ questions that should be answered during this step:

  1. What - Mention what you want to achieve through this goal. And try to be as detailed as possible.
  2. Why - Specify the reasons why you have set this goal. Write down its importance.
  3. Who - Mention all the people involved in this goal. Mention their roles and contribution towards the goal.
  4. Where - Mention where it is located. This is might not be necessary for personal goals, but if there are any details related to the location you write it down here.
  5. Which - State the resources involved and constraints you may have. This will be essential to determine if your goal is attainable or not.
This is similar to writing a mission statement, but for your goals.

Answering all the above questions help you will get a better understanding of how you can achieve your goal with the resources you have. This will also help you identify any obstacles that you may have along the way.

Step 2: Mention how you will measure it

measure goals

Listing out the specifics isn’t enough to achieve a goal, it’s important to determine how you will measure and track your progress. Now in this step, you will choose suitable metrics that will help you do that. Setting milestones along the way will help you decide whether you are on the right track or not. With this analysis, you can correct your trajectory if needed.

Your metrics will assist you to foresee the accomplishment of your goals.

Step 3: Make sure it is attainable

attainable goals

It’s good to aim high but if your goals are simply unrealistic and impossible to achieve then you are more likely to fail than succeed. Setting goals that are well within your ability to achieve is the right way of approach.

To verify if your goals are achievable are not, you should consider the time required to achieve them, the resources you have, and the obstacles that may come your way. All these aspects together will help you decide if they are realistic or not.

Step 4: Make it relevant

To ensure the goal is relevant to you, you should observe how important it is for you and how it aligns with your business plan. To decide whether the goal is relevant or not you should answer these questions:

  • Is it justifying the time and efforts you put towards achieving this goal?
  • Is this the right time for you to take up this goal?
  • Does it align with your needs and bigger goals?
  • Are you a suitable person for this goal?
  • Is it appropriate for your current socioeconomic status?

If your answer is ‘Yes’ to all the above questions, then your goal is relevant and you can proceed. In case you have answered ‘No’, then you should rethink your goals.

Step 5: Create a timeline

The final step is to create a schedule and set a deadline for your goal. A single target date is not enough to keep you motivated to achieve the goal. Hence, it is essential to establish milestones that will assist you to prioritize your goals over your everyday tasks.

These business milestones include regularly reviewing your progress, deciding when to do a particular task, specifying when to accomplish a part of the goal, etc. Before you begin, you should also define whether your goal is long-term or short-term; this will help you plan the timeline accordingly.

Your timeline should be realistic and flexible to allow any revisions in your goals concerning any of the five traits.

Examples of SMART goals

A SMART goal is a tool every business needs to incorporate in their goal-setting process. Here are two examples that will help you better understand how to implement what we have just learned.

Example 1

  • Goal: I want to increase my profits
  • Specific: I will increase my revenue by cutting down expenses and operational costs by moving to an affordable place.
  • Measurable: I will take up new projects and take new clients in the next 6 months. I will review my finances monthly to track progress.
  • Attainable: I will create new leads through promotion by referrals, social media, and brand networking, thereby increasing revenue through new clients.
  • Relevant: Relocation to a cheaper office will reduce costs, which I can further invest in marketing, contributing towards achieving the goal.
  • Time-bound: My profits would have been increased by the end of 6 months. I will set milestones to help me stay focused and motivated to achieve the goal.

SMART Goal Statement: I want to increase my profits by cutting down some operational costs by moving to a cheaper place and using that capital to generate new leads that will help me increase revenue. I will review my financial progress monthly and set milestones to help me stay focused on the goal that I will achieve by the end of 6 months.

Example 2

  • Goal: I want to get a promotion
  • Specific: I want to attain the required qualifications to get promoted to a managerial position.
  • Measurable: I will review my progress and take tests to analyze my skill development.
  • Attainable: My manager is nearing his retirement and there will soon be an opportunity for me to apply for the position. In addition to that, considering my experience in the company I might have a greater chance of promotion.
  • Relevant: This is a great opportunity for me as I have all the resources and time required. Moreover, my manager is also willing to guide me through this process.
  • Time-bound: My manager will retire by the end of this quarter, which will give me 4 months to get certification for the skills that I need. The course that I am taking requires 3 months of training, and I will have one more month to prepare myself for the process.

SMART Goal Statement: I want to acquire qualifications for the upcoming opportunity of a managerial position by taking a three-month course and with the guidance of my current manager, who is nearing his retirement. I will review my progress monthly to keep track of it and refine my skills before the promotion process begins.

Start making SMART goals

We hope these examples helped you understand how to make SMART goals. Remember, goals without a plan to achieve them are simply wishes. The ideal way to set up a goal is to create a framework that will help you reach it.

Goals and milestones help achieve desired outcomes and to businesses this means profit. SMART is an effective tool to bring clarity, focus, and motivation that will take you a step closer every time you work towards your goal.

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Ayush Jalan
Ayush Jalan
Ayush is a writer with an academic background in business and marketing. Being a tech-enthusiast, he likes to keep a sharp eye on the latest tech gadgets and innovations. When he's not working, you can find him writing poetry, gaming, playing the ukulele, catching up with friends, and indulging in creative philosophies.