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Setting up SMART Goals

Oct 20, 2021

If writing out our goals is so important, why are less that 5% actually doing it!?!

I am often amazed at the answers that I get when I ask my clients or friends if they have completed writing out their goals for the year. I get a variety of responses that sound something like this: “I’m really stuck” or “I just don’t have time” or “I have them in my head”. All of these responses are simply excuses and really mean that they just don’t believe in it’s importance.

I remember early in my career I heard numerous times from different leadership trainers and motivational speakers just how important it is to write out your goals and to review them regularly to make any adjustments that need to be made. I started doing this during the last week in December every year (well, most years. I admit I skipped some years.) so that I could hit the ground running at the beginning of the year.

You may write some ideas down of things that you want to do in the new year, but this is really a to-do list and not goals. Goals should be intentionally written as SMART goals. Here are some helpful tips about how to make it easier and fun!

Set aside at least 1 hour and sit in a place that you will not be disturbed. Use your favorite writing instrument and follow this process:

First, ask yourself, “If I could not fail and money was not an object, what would I do?” Then dream big and write all these ideas down.

Next estimate when you expect to reach these outcomes. Be honest about this and think long-term. Assign specific dates and not just general time lines, like “by January 31, 2020” or “in September 2018”.

Once you have these dreams and dates, chose the four most important goals for 2018 from this list. Then write why you want/need to achieve these goals by the outcome date. Make sure that you include what you will be doing, how you will act, what you will be seeing, hearing and feeling. You need to create a clear picture of each of the goals.

Then check them against the “Setting SMART Goals” rules.

Some goals are short-term and specific (starting next month, I will increase my production by two units per hour), and others are long-term and nebulous (within the next five years, I will become a great skier). Still others can be accomplished relatively easily (I will work out 3 times a week), but others are virtually impossible to attain (I will master the five languages that our customers speak before the end of the fiscal year).

How do you know what kind of goals to set? The whole point of setting goals, after all, is to achieve them. The best goals are smart goals — SMART is a handy acronym for the five characteristics of well-designed goals.

  • Specific: Goals must be clear and unambiguous; when goals are specific, they tell your brain exactly what is expected, when, and how much. Because the goals are specific, you can easily measure your progress toward their completion.
  • Measurable: What good is a goal that you can’t measure? If your goals are not measurable, you never know whether you are making progress toward their successful completion. Not only that, but it’s tough to stay motivated to complete your goals when you have no milestones to indicate their progress.
  • Attainable: Goals must be realistic and attainable. The best goals require you to stretch a bit to achieve them, but they aren’t extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance. Goals that are set too high or too low become meaningless, and you naturally begin to ignore them.
  • Relevant: Goals must be an important tool in the grand scheme of achieving your desired outcomes. Relevant goals help you stay focused on what is important to achieve this year and plan for next year.
  • Time-bound: Goals must have starting points, ending points, and fixed durations. Commitment to deadlines helps you to focus your efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. Goals without deadlines or schedules for completion tend to be overshadowed by the day-to-day tasks that easily distract from achieving goals.

Take time to write down your goals using the above tips. It will make the difference in achieving ALL your goals this year as opposed to getting distracted and overwhelmed. You will begin to get the attention of your coworkers, boss and even your family because of your ability to stay on track and complete the prioritized list of things that move you toward your objectives!

Make it fun! Don’t put it off! Do it right now! I would love to hear from you once you have completed your goals.

About Connie Cwik

Connie Cwik has a career signature of being asked by senior corporate leaders such as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Rick Wagoner to assume advisor-consultant roles with clients and executive teams. She was  recruited by The Walt Disney Company to coach executives and worked jointly with their leadership to create career development plans for Disney’s Enterprise IT group (50 people). A recognized leader and mentor, Connie holds more than 20 years experience building relationships, developing teams, and coaching associates to success. Contact her at via email at [email protected] to find out how Connie can coach your team to success!

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