Specific: A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions:
EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.”
Measurable - Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set.
When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……
How much? How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.
You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.
Realistic- To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.
A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.
Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, “by May 1st”, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
Your goal is probably realistic if you truly believe that it can be accomplished. Additional ways to know if your goal is realistic is to determine if you have accomplished anything similar in the past or ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
T can also stand for Tangible – A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of the senses, that is, taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.
When your goal is tangible you have a better chance of making it specific and measurable and thus attainable.
Setting SMART Goals
SMART is a convenient acronym for the set of criteria that a goal must have in order for it to be realized by the goal achiever.
Goals should also include the three P’s:
The best goals are simple, one-sentence statements that anyone can understand. When setting goals, fewer is better. Setting too many goals can be counter-productive. Focus on goals that will have the greatest impact on achieving your vision of success.
Some companies, knowing that goals are a significant motivational tool, really go overboard when setting them. They will give their staff targets on several different measurements – some of which will contradict the others.
It is also fair to say that an important element of setting SMART goals is calibration. There is every chance that targets will be set for the first month that are either too easily achieved, or too difficult. By looking at how people have performed in relation to their targets, it is easy to see whether they have been set too high or too low, and the targets can then be adjusted.
It may take a month or two to get targets to the right level, as it is important to avoid over-correction. Once this is done, you should have a set of achievable but challenging goals which will bring the best out of staff and provide a motivated working environment.
Let’s look at some more examples:
For an organization or department...
Not SMART “Improve our student service.”
SMART “Achieve and maintain an average student service rating of at least 4.0 (out of a possible 5.0) on our annual survey by 11/20/08.”
For an exempt staff member...
Not SMART “Create our 2008 strategic plan.”
SMART “Create our 2008 strategic plan, obtain final approval from the Budget Committee, and discuss it with our department so individuals can begin setting their performance objectives by 8-29-07.”
Not SMART “Improve project management skills.”
SMART “Take the Project Management Essentials workshop on 10-18-2007, report what was learned to our team by 11-01-2007, and apply the relevant concepts while implementing our 2008 marketing plan.”
For a nonexempt staff member...
Not SMART “Send out welcome letters to our new students.”
SMART “Produce and distribute personalized welcome letters, error free, to all new students in our department by 9-26-07.”
Not SMART “Be more receptive to coaching suggestions and feedback.”
SMART “At our monthly progress meetings, ask for feedback on what you are doing well and what things to improve. Keep a notebook with this information, try out the suggestions, and document each week what worked and what didn’t.”
For an exempt or nonexempt staff member...
Not SMART “Keep our department’s Website up-to-date.”
SMART “Solicit updates and new material for the Website from our department managers on the first Friday of each month; publish this new material by the following Friday. Each time material is published, review the Website for material that is out-of-date and delete or archive that material.”
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