S.M.A.R.T. goals are widely used across all types of environments. Setting goals that are not set against these guidelines give us little to really measure or achieve. So as you set your goals, we encourage you to use these guidelines:
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:
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 joy 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 achieving your goals.
You can attain pretty much 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.
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.
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. Ask yourself what conditions would have to exist to accomplish this goal.
Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency. “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, then you’ve set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the 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.