SMART goals stands for an acronym outlines a strategy for reaching any objective. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and anchored within a Time Frame.
1. SMART GOALS ARE SPECIFIC
Saying you "want to earn more" is too vague. Instead, pick a number for how much money you want to earn. Do you want to start making $150,000 per year, $500,000 or even $1 million? Do you want to increase your business profits by 20%? Set a clear number to track your progress against. Having a specific goal is helpful in two ways: you can better visualize your outcome – imagine all those zeroes in your bank account – and you will know without a doubt when you've achieved it.
2. SMART GOALS ARE MEASURABLE
SMART goal setting involves tracking your progress. If your goal isn't measurable, you can't objectively say you've achieved it. In our example, the specific goal is already measurable: You can check the numbers as the year goes on to see if you've reached $150,000.
This concept applies to other goals as well. For example, instead of "learn how to play golf," your measurable goal might be "reduce my handicap from 25 to 20." This allows you to see your development. How are you matching up to your goal? Are you on track to succeed? Giving your goals a clearly measurable outcome gives you something to visualize and track.
3. SMART GOALS ARE ACHIEVABLE
Setting an achievable goal means choosing an objective that is attainable, even if it requires you to push yourself. If you pick a goal that you know is outrageous – say you're currently earning $30,000 and want to earn $5 million next year – you're most likely going to come up short of your goal.
When you create a goal that's too lofty, it can seem impossible. You may be overwhelmed and eventually give up. Use SMART goal setting to ensure you can achieve tangible progress and avoid setting yourself up for failure with out-of-reach goals. Don't worry. You can always increase your goal as you start achieving more.
4. SMART GOALS ARE REALISTIC
Extraordinary goals get extraordinary results, so you want to be bold. However, for effective SMART goal setting, you also want to ensure that your goal is realistic. Realistic goals are those that you are willing and able to work toward that can be achieved by improving your current habits. As business guru Jay Abraham reminds us, "You've got to know what you're trying to do, why you're trying to do it and what your skill sets are." Your goals aren't meaningful if they aren't based on your reality right now. Whether you're setting business goals or setting personal ones, Abrahams' words ring true.
Think about what you will need to do to reach your monetary goals. Whether you need to make more sales, get promoted to management or take the lead on a big client, make sure your goal is something you will have the time and energy for. While setbacks can be a catalyst for change and reenergize you, if your goal is not realistic, you will find it difficult to get back on track.
5. SMART GOALS ARE SET IN A TIME FRAME
The final principle in the SMART goals definition is setting a clear time frame in which you can achieve your goal. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish your goal. Do you think you can start earning your desired salary in six months, one year or two years? Having a clear time frame is essential for checking your progress along the way to reaching your goal.
If you don't reach your goal within the time frame, then it's time to reassess: Was your goal achievable and realistic? Was your time frame too short? Or did you just not give it your all? When you employ the SMART goals acronym to map out what you want, there's nothing wrong with resetting your goals as long as you have clarity on why you didn't meet them. Realign, reset and start again.
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