Like it or not, it’s time to start brainstorming and formulating fresh, new goals for next year and end of fourth quarter. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s completely up to you to stay motivated and set regular goals. One of the hats you have to wear is If you work for a large corporation, chances are you and your manager are required to complete a year end performance evaluation that includes a list of goals for next year. Whatever your situation here are some helpful tips for creating SMARTER goals.
What’s In A Name?
There’s a reason I am referring to SMARTER goals in all caps. It is a mnemonic, which is a learning technique that helps you easily remember key principles that may otherwise be hard to retain.
SMARTER stands for seven words that you should always remember and utilize every time you are developing goals.
Don’t Be Lazy, Get Specific
We have all set goals before that are simple and straight forward that we think are good enough. For example I want to lose weight or I want to be a better leader. Those are certainly great ambitions, but they are poor goals. Why? Because they are way too vague! They don’t provide any detailed information about what you want to happen, the benefits, the resources involved, or the location.
You’re essentially creating an action plan, not a five to seven word sentence. Answer the following questions when writing out your goal to cover the Specific criterion:
What am I trying to achieve?
Why is this important?
Who will participate and be affected?
Where will this take place?
Which known limitations and requirements will I have to stay within, overcome, or meet?
Make Sure You Can Measure It
The reason Measurable is an important tip of creating SMARTER goals is so you and your manager can track your progress. You also don’t need to have a manager to create SMARTER goals. But you will need to be able to fairly and accurately measure your performance. After all, the fun of setting goals is being able to monitor your growth and then get rewarded for success.
To cover the Measurable piece, ask yourself these questions:
How much will I need to gain/lose/use/spend/save/etc?
How many of xyz will it take?
How will I measure my performance and progress?
Set Realistic Expectations Within Stretching Distance
Never give up reaching for the stars. If you have a huge goal in mind, I strongly suggest breaking it up into smaller goals that lead to your ultimate dream. This makes it much easier for you to focus, stay motivated, reward yourself for completing milestones, and keep pushing forward. Don’t set yourself up to fail from the beginning!
The primary question to focus on for the Attainable principle is:
How will I be able to complete this goal?
Determine If Your Goal Is Appropriate And Pertinent
Think about if your goal is Relevant to the values, initiatives, and scope of your business, project, or organization. If there’s something you really want to achieve that doesn’t quite fit in, that’s okay. But you should work on that separately as a personal goal and create another one that’s more appropriate for your work or department.
If you’re working on goals for your job, you have to think about the goals from your manager’s point of view too. Will he/she be willing and able to support you and provide the necessary resources? Questions to ask yourself are:
Does this goal benefit me, my boss, the team, the company?
Am I an appropriate candidate for this goal?
Is this goal actually worth my time and energy?
Is this a good time to start working on this?
Are there any trends, events, or other projects that would conflict with mine?
Tick Tock Watch That Clock
Any successfully written goal and action plan needs a specific time frame or deadline. It’s quite easy to procrastinate otherwise. You want to give yourself enough time to complete each task but at the same time not leave too much wiggle room. Or you could easily find yourself losing focus and getting distracted with other things.
Think about the other items that are currently on your to do list and how much time you’ll be able to free up. You may have to sacrifice time with friends, overcome a TV addiction, delegate other tasks, and learn how to multitask without damaging your brain and efficiency. When figuring out what Time-bound targets are best, ask yourself these questions:
When do I want to complete this goal by?
When does my boss want me to complete it?
What other tasks am I already doing that may interfere with my time?
Where can I cut back and free up more time?
How much can I realistically work on each day/week/month?
Check Your Progress, Not Once or Twice, But Constantly
Using these tips to create SMARTER goals isn’t hard. Does it take some time and thought? Totally. But formulating your action plan is just the beginning. You owe it to yourself and those around you to regularly Evaluate and then Reevaluate your progress. Depending on the scope of your goal, that could mean weekly, monthly, or quarterly. The important thing is setting aside time by yourself (for personal goals) or with your mentor/boss (for career and business goals) to review what you’ve done up to that time.
If you haven’t hit your targets, figure out why. Then, modify your action plan to incorporate necessary changes to get you back on track. A SMARTER goal is fluid, evolves, and stays relevant. Your time is limited and precious, so make sure you’re putting it to the best use. Ask yourself these questions for the Evaluate and Reevalute steps.
What have I been doing well so far? Why?
Which areas am I struggling with? Why?
Am I dedicating enough time and resources?
Do I need to modify the scope or timeline?
Am I using my time wisely?
Are there better ways I could be measuring my progress?
What can I do differently to get faster, better results?
Untemplaters, have you ever created detailed action plans before? Do you have any other tips for creating SMARTER goals? What are you aiming to accomplish next year?
Buck Inspire says
Great advice Sydney! I’m notorious for making vague and inmeasurable goals. Too much wiggle room for me to escape accountability. Thanks for setting me straight!
Thanks Buck. Yeah it’s not always fun or easy to create specific goals that fit all of the SMARTER criteria. It takes more time to put a plan together, but the success rate is a lot higher than without one.
Daisy @ Prairie Eco Thrifter says
I’m a huge fan of SMART goals. I love the evaluating stage of a goal (admittedly only when I’m meeting my goals!). I love that you’ve added the ER to the end of SMART. It’s a very important part of meeting a goal.
I know, it’s hard to want to evaluate when we’re not doing well on our goals!
Financial Samurai says
Never heard of the ER in SMARTer! I’m totally a evaluator and re-evaluator! I try to be careful not to have analysis paralysis. That’s the worst.
Yeah the ER was relatively new to me too. It is good to evaluate more than just once especially since many goals take long periods of time to complete.