What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym used to describe the process of setting goals. The acronym stands for the words “specific,” “measurable,” “achievable,” “relevant” and “time-bound,” which are essential traits of setting objectives. The SMART method provides a way to measure your progress and be accountable for your success. Setting SMART goals
For example, you might set a goal to “get better” at typing. However, upon evaluating this goal using the SMART method, you see that your goal is quite vague. By restating your goal in quantifiable terms, such as “be able to type more words per minute,” you have a SMART goal that can be obtained. The characteristics of this goal can then be further detailed to reflect the remaining traits of the SMART goal process.
How to set SMART goals
1. Make your goal specific.
The first step in creating an attainable goal is to get specific with how you describe it. Consider it in quantifiable terms and determine what actions you need to get there. The examples below show how you can fine-tune a broad objective into a specific SMART goal.
This example goal takes a broad statement that could present different approaches and actions—like learning the proper typing techniques or not having to look at the keyboard while typing—and makes it more specific by evaluating which aspect of typing can be set as a goal. This example can then be further evaluated to check that it fits the remaining criteria of a SMART goal.
2. Make your goal measurable
toward achieving your goal. Being measurable also takes into account any actions you would implement to help you further your progress toward your goal. For instance, this may take the form of tracking the time it takes you to complete an action or meet a milestone. The following example shows the evolution of a broad goal into a specific and measurable one.
Example goal after “measurable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can measure my progress by taking timed tests that show the increase in my typing speed.”
3. Make your goal achievable
After writing a specific goal and evaluating how you will measure it, consider if your set objective how achievable it is. Considering how long it will take, potential obstacles, and measurement methods will all help you determine the realistic odds of achieving your set goal. The more realistic and achievable the goal, the more likely you will be to keep working toward it. Consider the following examples that illustrate a “before” and “after” effect when applying the “achievable” criteria to your goal.
Example goal after “achievable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can achieve this goal by making small increases in my typing speed each week.”
This aspect of the SMART strategy also relates to your goal being measurable. With a specific measurable goal, it is more likely to be achievable because it can allow you to see exactly how you will achieve your progress as you work toward the goal. While the example goal of reaching 100 words per minute could be achievable, when related to the rest of the SMART criteria, it could be that this goal will not be achievable in the time frame you scheduled, or that it will require more resources to get there.
4. Make sure it is relevant
When a goal is relevant, it relates directly to a skill or professional development strategy that you want to improve. For instance, if you wanted to receive a high mark on your next employee evaluation, it would make sense to set a goal to help you improve your skills and workflow to progress to that goal. Additionally, any milestones you set or actions you take to achieve your goal should directly influence your progress. The examples below show how the “relevant” trait is applied.
Example goal after “relevant” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, so I will set aside 15 minutes every day to practice my typing and take timed speed tests.”
5. Create a time-bound schedule
Time-bound refers to the timeline you set for working toward your goals as well as how long it will take you to meet milestones and achieve your final results. Consider if your goal is a short-term or long-term goal. From there, you can determine a timeline
and set a schedule for yourself to meet deadlines and get to your objective. Your timeline should also be realistic and allow you plenty of opportunities to make adjustments to your goal regarding its relevance, specificity and attainability. Consider the final step in the SMART process in the following example.
Example goal before “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute by setting aside 15 minutes every day to practice speed typing and take timed tests.”
Example goal after “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute within three months. I will set aside 15 minutes each day to practice at speed and take timed tests weekly to measure my progress.”
This goal now fits all the criteria of a SMART goal because it shows how specific the objective is, outlines a way to measure progress, is achievable and relevant to the desired skill development and sets up a timeline for each milestone and overall completion of the goal.
In this video, Sinéad explains how to choose relevant goals that are in line with your long-term aspirations, and gives examples of how to specify what it is that you truly want in life, and tailor your goals toward that vision.
Examples of Business Smart Goals
- Reduce overtime in the department from 150 hours per month to 50 hours per month by the end of the fiscal year with no increase in incident reports.
- Identify, execute and run 5 customer education webinars this quarter with 10+ attendees and 80%+ satisfied/very satisfied rate
- Prepare for product launch by developing launch checklist of activity, tasks, due-dates and drive approval by all stakeholders by April 1
- Conduct at least 10 phone screens and 3 on-site interviews to achieve the goal of hiring new finance manager by end of quarter
- Gain four new clients for my business this quarter by conducting 3 or more customer meetings each week
- Acquire 45,000 new online customers this financial year at an average cost per acquisition (CPA) of $30 with an average profitability of $5
- Increase the reach of the business Facebook page from 35,000 likes to 100,000 likes by July 31 through ads, events, and video
- Ensure that the 90%+ of the team has completed training on the new inventory management software by the end of the quarter.
- Secure $10K in sponsorship commitments for our event this fall by the end of March
- Review all customer accounts above $20K/year revenue and schedule a strategic review with the top 5 with the greatest opportunity for upsell
- Deliver customer support with a 90%+ Satisfied/Very Satisfied customer satisfaction rate and reduce overall customer contact volume by 10%
- Present at two or more internal employee per quarter to improve confidence and presenting skills. Improve industry knowledge by attending 3+ industry events and provide a write-up to the rest of the team on key learnings afterward
- Develop and practice my management skills by conducting weekly 1:1s with my direct reports, quarterly 1:1s with my indirect reports, and quarterly all hands with my team resulting in 10% improvement in employee engagement score at the end of the year
- Review and reduce the number of meetings on my calendar by 50% in order to enable more time for strategic planning by end of the month
- By end of quarter, complete course work and pass for CFA certification
- Grow my network by having at least one lunch each week on average this quarter with an external professional relationship
- Improve my product understanding by creating, drafting, and delivering two projects using our product by the end fo the quarter
- Spend 2 days per month building my customer understanding by shadowing teammates in operations and sales; deliver a write-up at the end on key learnings to the rest of the team