SMART Goals. SMART Goal Setting with Examples

Motivation for life

The term SMART goal setting is an effective way to manage small, medium, large and personal projects. The first mention dates back to 1965 in the works of Paul J. Meyer, the leading expert on motivation. It remains relevant and in demand in today’s realities.

What are Smart Goals?

The word SMART is translated from English as smart, but each letter carries a meaning. The deciphering of the acronym fully reflects the specifics of the system of setting the final goal:

SMART goals
SMART goals
  • SSpecific — concreteness without any amorphousness;
  • MMeasurable — measurability without spatial definitions;
  • AAchievable — achievability, for example, you cannot grow a third hand (the exception is genetics, but human experimentation is forbidden, which does not change the point);
  • RRelevant/Realistic — Results-oriented realism;
  • TTime-bound — limited time.

The smart system for setting any goal is designed so that the goal must be specific, measurable, executable, realistic, achievable by a certain point in time. Depending on the parameters, it is:

  • short-, medium-, long-term (up to 100, from 100 and up to 365 days, more than a year);
  • business and personal;
  • aimed at a large or small group;
  • aimed at financial success or achievement.

The technique is used by executives of large corporations, middle managers, individual entrepreneurs with and without employees, in everyday life.

Advantages and disadvantages of smart targets

The S.M.A.R.T. principle has found wide application in large business projects and personal goal-setting. It has many positive characteristics. The most significant are the following:

  • universality in relation to different areas;
  • practicality, allowing you to create projections for the future;
  • detail, making it possible not to miss even the smallest nuances;
  • accessibility of the environment due to the absence of any special tools and software;
  • visual motivation due to the vision of a specific achievable result.

The negative side of the method, according to experts, is the inability to take into account external changes and the human factor. No approach allows to take into account political and other circumstances. To neutralize the disadvantage, setting goals for SMART should always include a paragraph on the willingness to adjust to changing realities.

Achieving smart goals
Achieving smart goals

What criteria should smart goals meet?

For a goal to be smart, i.e. SMART, it must match the parameters given in the transcript:

1. Smart target must be specific

The result should be obvious and verifiable, for example, it is wrong to say “work on the report. Such a task does not involve anything specific. You can just open a file, make a couple of lines and close it. Completing the statement of expenditure for the month of July sounds completely different. No extraneous interpretations. Anyone from the outside, looking at such a task, will be able to control the completeness. The criterion helps to understand: what is achieved when a matter is completed.

2. SMART goal must be measurable

The condition is achieved by specifying evaluation parameters or a specific measurement. The unit is percentage, money, kilograms, liters, centimeters, and so on. Detailed planning allows more control, for example, “increase next quarter’s profits by 10%. This can always be checked by comparing revenues. Measurability is expressed not only in terms of quantity, but also in terms of quality – “improve your English proficiency from Intermediate to Upper-Intermediate.

3. The smart goal must be achievable

In order for the goal to meet the criterion, you must have time, effort, money, knowledge, and other resources at your disposal. This step allows you to cross out unachievable goals. There is a nuance here. You don’t have to give up. It is enough to reformulate it commensurate with your capabilities. For example, a millionaire on the Forbes list can afford to “buy a castle in Switzerland,” while a businessman with an average income cannot, but can “buy a two-room apartment in the center of St. Petersburg.

Setting realistic goals
Setting realistic goals

4. A smart goal must be relevant

The target becomes so when one of the following cases is satisfied:

  1. The desire to fulfill all the necessary conditions. You want to have a toned body, but you are not ready to go to the gym three times a week and work out at home. This means that the result is not important.
  2. It is necessary to achieve another important goal. You want to make more money so you can build your own two-story house.

This stage allows you to sift out what will not bring true satisfaction, is not relevant in your particular case. One person will be thrilled with a new car, but for another, nothing will change.

5. SMART goal must be limited in time

Without a deadline, a goal cannot be considered smart. There are two reasons for this:

  • The lack of a time frame makes the goal optional. Measures to achieve the result are constantly delayed, postponed, the possibility of control is lost, it is impossible to try the situation on a particular period.
  • The deadline forces you to constantly work, to set mini-tasks for small periods within the global. For example, in order to learn 100 English words, they learn 25 each week.

Important! The 5 criteria do not always apply. This may be due to the task at hand, but it is recommended to apply all of them. This approach allows you to bring the process of formulation to automatism, to spend less time on planning. If current tasks are simple, future ones may require a comprehensive approach.

Setting SMART goals

Simple planning is only a superficial impression of technology. It requires careful thought and double-checking of each item. This makes it possible to achieve maximum results. Without mastering the basics of smart, you can’t expect to succeed.

Principles of a smart target

Achievement of effectiveness is conditioned by the fulfillment of three fundamental rules:

  • Written work. It is necessary to record the goal in an electronic file or diary. The medium of information should always be in front of your eyes, at your fingertips. Keeping thoughts in your head is a direct path to loss of control. The task must meet all the criteria-conditions for completion.
  • Emphasis on the importance of the result. The importance of what is desired is the basis of the technique. The less a person gets in the end, the lower the motivation, the chances of success, the desire to translate conceived into reality. Matching the goal to the true interests, on the contrary, makes the system an effective tool for realizing the end goal.
  • Monitoring Flexibility. There are circumstances independent of people that make goals irrelevant or require certain adjustments. Learn to modify objectives when possible, to abandon what becomes unnecessary in a timely manner. Remember, this takes away precious time that could be spent on important matters.
Working on setting smart goals
Working on setting smart goals

This last point is the most difficult for many managers and individuals. Never regret wasting time, but think about the future. Relevance must always be present.

Smart Goal Setting Technology

To formulate a smart goal is to follow a clear instruction, each point of which is described below:

  1. Write out the end results on a separate list. Revisit everything you have written. Identify and separate out the primary tasks. The secondary ones, therefore, cut them off.
  2. Formulate a goal according to the SMART method, think in detail about each step on the way to achieve. Look at the situation from different angles. Make adjustments.
  3. Write down the bonuses you get after the implementation of the desired goal. Next to the “pluses,” write the anticipated difficulties. Do a comparative analysis. See if they are commensurate with the costs.
  4. Break the global goal into sub-items. Focus on progress: 25, 50, 75, 100% with reference to periods: days, weeks, months, quarters.
  5. Make a plan for specific actions. Be sure to include steps to address possible challenges. This allows you to prevent “unexpected” problems.
  6. Provide a way to monitor progress. You can use a spreadsheet with “done” and “not done” marks, planners. Be sure to provide a way.
  7. Consider a system of incentives, rewards, if this is a project, designed for teamwork. When this is not possible due to certain circumstances, make progress visible. This is sure to motivate.

The correct wording is

The knowledge gained must be used in practice. A correctly formulated goal should meet all smart criteria, and the process of setting such a goal is called “smarting. It is not necessary to spell out everything in order. The letters in the acronym are arranged in such a way that it is easier to remember the name of the methodology and reflect the essence of “smart” / “smart”.

The first step in setting smart goals. Formulating a need

Answer the question “what do I desire?” This becomes the starting point of a correctly constructed intelligent goal.

Table: Formulation of the need
Table: Formulation of the need

Second Step. Determining importance/relevance

To do a proper analysis, you need to answer the two questions “Why?”, “Why?” and answer “I want to do this…” and give arguments for and against.

Write down the points in favor of relevance and irrelevance. If doubts remain, you can do a counter-argument – “what happens if you don’t do it…” – compare the results.

Figure: Determining the importance of relevance
Figure: Determining the importance of relevance

Step Three. Concretization of the goal

Allows you to define what the result should look like. You can draw an analogy with a Genie who makes a wish. The effect is notoriously tricky. This should not be the case. The end result should be such that there is no doubt/regret after it is achieved.

“I want to pass the final exam in English with an A because I want to enter the Faculty of Philology. The goal fully satisfies the desired outcome and is relevant.

Structure: Concretization of the goal
Structure: Concretization of the goal

Step four. Determination of attainability indicators

You need to understand whether you/the staff have the necessary knowledge and experience to implement what you want to do. Take into account your judgments, facts, and the results of various studies.

If you want to lose weight in a month by 20 kilograms, you should refer to studies. It will become clear that such a rapid weight loss in such a short period is not possible and is fraught with health problems.

Table: Determination of attainability indicators
Table: Determination of attainability indicators

Step Five. Setting a deadline – a deadline

Determine the actual time in which the task can be completed. Be sure to justify the time frame. You can’t just decide to lose so many pounds. It is necessary to understand how much time you are willing to spend on sports, what kind of diet you plan to stick to. Count the calories you get, the calories you spend, and estimate when the loss of 20 kilograms will really be possible.

Figure: Setting a deadline
Figure: Setting a deadline

Sixth step. Checking the achievability of the goal

If the previous steps are correct, you can safely skip this one. It is better to double-check too difficult tasks using the following questions:

  • Is there enough self-discipline, time, money, and health to meet the deadline?
  • Do you have all the resources you need to accomplish the task?
  • Is it necessary to make new acquaintances, attend courses/training, hire employees, and so on?

It’s not uncommon to discover some miscalculations and make adjustments. It is better to double-check beforehand than to change later.

SMART Goals: Examples

To consolidate the knowledge gained, several examples of clever goals compared to misinterpretations.

Right Wrong
Increase labor productivity through the introduction of the “Auto Service” program by 20% within 3 months. Make employees work more efficiently.
Prepare for the charity ten-kilometer marathon in September. Run ten kilometers.
Take the Intermediate Certificate in September by enrolling in a preparatory course. Improve your knowledge of English.
Take on additional projects to make more money and raise $5,000 by September 2021 to buy a car. Buy a car for $5,000.

Correctly formulated goal that meets the SMART-criteria, allows you to competently plan and improve the performance of both business and realize their own desires. Technology requires clear adherence to certain parameters, the ability to work with information, to collect data from authoritative sources.

Detailed examples of setting smart goals

Here are a few examples. You can add your own in the comments to this article.

Example 1: Increase the number of positive customer reviews by 30% in one year

Let’s imagine that we are a company that provides services to promote sites in search engines. In most cases, customers choose such companies by reviews in social networks and on specialized sites. This is important to us. Our income may depend on the number of positive reviews.

Specific (specific): Increase the number of positive feedback from customers by 30%.

Measurable (measurable): Measuring progress with monthly reports on whether or not we achieved our goal.

Achievable (achievable): Last year we increased the number of reviews by 16%. So a 30% increase is an achievable goal.

Relevant (relevant): This goal is 100% relevant to our global goals and mission.

Time-bound (time-limited): We have 365 days to reach this goal.

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