Everyone has a goal that they want to reach or achieve in life. These targets motivate us and keep us focused, defining us as a person, an entity, an organization or an enterprise.
In a business setting, many corporations have a clear set of articulated goals in attaining specific objectives. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to build your business or if you’re trying to expand your enterprise, the success of your business will depend on your ability to set and achieve those goals. You may have the knowledge needed and the right tools to make your business a success, but in some cases, that’s not quite enough. You can fast track your business and reach your goals by applying the S.M.A.R.T. Principles.
What Are the S.M.A.R.T. Principles?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym of the 5 steps of setting reasonable and achievable objectives. These steps can be applied to many aspects of business like personal development, performance of employees and personal development. The S.M.A.R.T. criteria is usually credited to Peter Drucke’s concept of management by objectives. One of the major advantages of S.M.A.R.T. objectives is that it is easy to analyze, understand, apply and check if the principles have been applied according the organization’s target goal. It can also be said that the S.M.A.R.T. principle is an effective tool used by business organizations to go beyond predictable goal-setting in an actionable plan that will ensure results. The principle is also important because it will ensure that each team or employee prioritizes and focuses on the strategies, activities and initiatives that will have a great impact on the company’s short and long term goals. Let’s understand the specifics of what S.M.A.R.T. is:
- Specific. Targeting a specific area. The goal must be very clear on who is responsible for achieving the goal and what is the expected outcome. It’s also essential to communicate and understand why a specific objective is an advantage to the company, the time of completion and the completion requirements.
- Measurable. The quantity or the suggested indicator of progress. The goal is not clear or loosely defined if the organization cannot track the progress of the project with concrete criteria. If this is the case, it will be very difficult for the managers and team members to assess and analyze where they stand regarding company milestones, deadlines and project completion.
- Attainable. There’s a difference between ambitious and unrealistic. You have to make sure that every goal you set has the ability to inspire and motivate your team to push themselves in bringing the business to the next level, without setting them up to fail. To be realistic, you also need to acknowledge that there are times when your target goal will be unachievable for reasons that are out of your control. If this happens, you need to adapt and change strategies to be more realistic in achieving the goal.
- Relevant. Achievable and realistic business targets are based on the realities and the present business climate. As a business, you may want to increase your revenue by say 50%, but if the market is down, the goals are not relevant to the realities of the existing market.
- Time-related. Specifying when the target or the results can be achieved. Every goal should have a deadline which will create a sense of urgency around the specified objectives. That’s what deadlines are for. Without this criteria, you and your team will find it hard to prioritize the initiatives and the processes that will facilitate the completion of the project.
Why Is S.M.A.R.T. Important?
Setting goals motivates people, teams and entire organizations to achieve success. Every person within the team or organization needs to give meaning to the goals and how to take the necessary actions to get to the finish line. The S.M.A.R.T. objective system is important because:
1. It Clarifies The Company’s Vision
Without a target or goal, you will just wander aimlessly and not know why you are in your current position. Setting goals will give you the drive to do what you really want and it helps to clear your mind and focus on the target you’re aiming for. If your objectives are clear you will know what things motivate and excite you.
2. It Lets You Focus
If you have set goals, you will learn how to focus on the things that you need to do to let those goals happen. You will not waste time doing mundane things because you will be driven by focus to make everything achievable.
3. It Drives You Forward
The objectives will encourage you work harder to reach your goal. This is specifically important when you have deadlines. It’s also true when you have long term goals because motivation is like an engine that will keep you going.
4. It Puts Value On Self Discipline
No discipline, no results. Set clear goals, get motivated and have the discipline to do the necessary things to reach that goal. There should be no shortcuts, but still find a way to use effective methods that will easily lead you to your goal.
5. It Lets You Take Action
Imagining your goals will not get you the results that you want. It’s just like waiting for an apple to fall from the tree instead of climbing the tree to get the apple. You will not accomplish anything if you’re just staying in one place and doing nothing. Imagination is good, but if you want to make things happen, you better do something about it and take action.
Strategies That Will Help You Achieve Your S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Strategies should be well-formulated to make things happen and to ensure that everyone is in sync in achieving the target. Here are some strategies to get you started:
1. Align Goals With Your Values
If your goal does not reflect or fit your philosophies and beliefs, then it will be very difficult to achieve. It’s like forcing yourself to do something that you know you really don’t want to do. Doing it will not make you happy in the end. Achieve goals that are meaningful and precious to you and your company.
2. Share Your Goals With the Right People
Having supportive and positive people is key because surely they won’t sabotage your projects. If you’ve chosen the right people to include in your goals, rumor mongering and backstabbing won’t get in they way and halt your progress.
3. Finish At Least One Action Plan A Day
Finishing an action plan a day will help you feel accomplished and push you to be consistent, propelling you toward your goal. Even finishing a small task on your checklist can lessen the pressure.
4. Assemble Everything You Need Before You Actually Need It
Doing this will save you a lot of time because prep work will eliminate time-wasting moments that can derail your progress and make you lose focus.
5. Reward Yourself
You don’t have to wait for a reward until you achieve your goal, especially if it’s a long term goal. Every time you reach a milestone or are making any positive progress, reward yourself with anything that will make you happy or motivate you further. A special treat, a vacation or spending time with family will surely help to balance things out.
Setting goals is an important aspect in everything we do. Whatever the goal is, it’s always essential to be clear and concrete in achieving those goals. Know the true value, the importance and the advantages of setting goals and it will ensure success and fulfillment in your life. Setting and achieving goals gives a great sense of direction, not just in the business world, but in our everyday lives.