We can all agree that goal setting is essential for success in our personal and professional lives.
Our goals help us to chart a course in the direction we want our lives to go by helping us:
- Clarify our priorities
- Direct our focus to what matters most
- Realize our hopes and dreams
- Measure the progress we make along the way
Furthermore, when we set goals in writing, they become real, increasing the likelihood of achieving them.
Most people understand the importance of ensuring goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
The concept first appeared in a November 1981 article by George Doran entitled There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Since then, we have had an easy-to-follow process to define what we want to achieve.
In recent posts, I’ve written about effective strategies and how to ensure you stay focused. Now let’s make your SMART goals SMARTER.
From SMART to SMARTER
Do this to make your SMART goals SMARTER.
Evaluate – Set it and forget it is not a winning goalsetting strategy. A more apt saying is: you can expect what you inspect. It’s essential to evaluate your goals regularly. And because your goals are measurable, this should be relatively easy. Not every worthy goal will have an exact metric, but you MUST be able to measure your progress.
You can assess your progress by asking a few questions.
- Did I hit the metrics I set for this goal? Or, am I closer now to my desired outcome than when I last evaluated this goal?
- If so, what worked that I can do more of?
- If not, what prevented me from achieving the milestone I set?
Do not skip this all-important step. It’s far too easy to engage in non-productive activities when you aren’t evaluating your goals closely.
You must ask, “What do we mean by great results?” Your goals don’t have to be quantifiable, but they do have to be describable. Some leaders try to insist, “The only acceptable goals are measurable,” but that’s actually an undisciplined statement. Lots of goals-beauty, quality, life change, love-are worthy but not quantifiable. But you do have to be able to tell if you’re making progress. — James C. Collins
Readjust – The final step in making your goals SMARTER is to readjust. Use the answers to your evaluation questions as a guide to recalibrate, if necessary. If, for example, you find yourself pursuing a goal but continuously miss the target, consider changing the target or your plan for hitting it.
Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that you need to throw your goals out and start from scratch. However, I’m asking you to consider modifying your approach until you land on a strategy that moves you closer and closer to your target.
Why? Because as Albert Einstein famously said, “The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome.”
The Bottom Line
The SMARTER way to achieve your goals is to create SMART goals. Then consistently measure and evaluate your progress. Finally, use what you learn to adjust as necessary.
That’s the way you stay on track.