Updated Feb 2023
If you’ve got annual performance reviews, then you’ve almost certainly heard a lot about SMART goals.
But what exactly are they? How do they help us achieve our goals? Why do we hear so much about them, and why are they so popular?
Well, it’s actually quite simple. Setting SMART goals is a way to phrase goals in such a specific manner that everybody who is concerned by them (such as yourself and your manager, for example), know exactly what the expected result is.
This is why they are so popular in the workplace. Because they leave little to no room for interpretation, and it reduces the probability of someone saying that they hadn’t really understood what was expected of them to almost 0.
Want to start using SMART goals to achieve your dreams? Download my free workbook at the bottom of this post to get you started!
But what exactly are they, and how do they work?
Everything (well… Almost everything) you need to know about SMART goals is right in the name.
You see, SMART is an acronyme for:
Every one of those words has a specific role to play in how you’re setting and phrasing your goals, so here’s what each of those means:
You have to phrase your goal in such a way that it leaves no doubt as to exactly what you are trying to achieve. For example, if you want to start a business, saying “I will start a business” is in no way specific enough.
It doesn’t answer the question of how you’re going to do it, by when, what kind of business it is, etc. For a goal to be specific, it needs to have way more detail.
To give you an idea of what that looks like, here’s what that means: if someone who doesn’t know you or what you’re trying to achieve reads your goal and knows exactly what it is you want, how you’re going to do it, and by
If not, keep rephrasing it until it’s specific enough.
Related: read my article about exactly HOW to use smart goals as an entrepreneur here!
When speaking about goals, it’s very important to have a goal that’s measurable. And what that means is having a clear “success threshold”.
A point where you very clearly know that if you’ve gone beyond, you’ve succeeded, but if not, then you didn’t reach your goal.
Saying for example that you want to “improve customer satisfaction” is not measurable.
How will you know when you’ve succeeded? Improve by how much? How will it be measured?
But saying that you want to “improve the customer retention-rate on your email list by 10%” is measurable.
You know exactly what your goal is, and what numbers you need to reach to succeed. It’s measurable.
Your goal needs to be attainable, which means realistic. If your goal is to “make $3000 by the end of the month”, that can be either realistic or not, depending on your current situation.
Maybe you’ve already got a profitable business, in which case $3000 by the end of the month may be ambitious, but realistic.
If, on the other hand, you’ve just begun, have no clients and no current income, then $3000 may be a bit of a stretch.
Yes, your goals do need to be ambitious in order to push you to achieve more, but they need to be attainable. If they’re not, you’ll just lose your motivation and quit.
So if you’re a beginner, setting a goal such as “have my first $3000 month within the first 6 months of launching my business” might be better. It’s ambitious, but probably realistic if you really push yourself, which, once again, setting goals is all about.
Does the goal you’re setting fit into your overall business strategy? Will it be a stepping-stone to where you want to go? Or is it completely off, and just something you’re setting because you see so many others doing it?
Even if the goal is relevant for your business in the long term, it may not be the right goal to set for right now.
For example, if you’re starting a cake decorating business, the goal “reach 50’000 email subscribers within 2 months” might be a good one, but not for right now. If you’re just starting out, then chances are that better goals to set would be “getting my first 3 customers by the end of the month”, or “getting my website up by the end of the week”.
In order to be efficient, your goal has to have a deadline. Ever hear the saying “a goal without a date is a dream”?
That’s exactly why you need to know by when you will have to reach your goal. Set a date.
Again, be realistic here. You have to find that sweet spot between pushing yourself hard enough that it motivates you, yet not so hard that it’s not feasable and you lose hope of ever achieving it.
So if I take the example from up above again, saying that you want to make $3000 by the end of the month is not realistic, but setting that deadline to 6 months all of a sudden makes it a challenge.
The important thing here is to set a date. You have to have the end in sight, otherwise there’s no real motivation for you to reach that goal, because you’ll never not reach it, because there’s no deadline. See what I mean?
So set a time-frame. Be realistic, but push yourself.
If you’re interested in using SMART goals to achieve your own dreams (you really should be!), then download my free workbook at the bottom of this post!
In the end
SMART goals are, in my opinion, a super efficient way of setting your goals, and of accomplishing things IF YOU STICK WITH IT.
But that’s your decision. Nobody but you can decide to set the goals, and to keep working towards your dreams but you.
To keep working on them, every. Single. Day. When it’s easy and you’re motivated, and when it’s hard because you’re tired.
Keep working on your goals and achieve your dream!
If you want to read more about SMART goals and how you can use them to start your own business, read my article here!
What about you? Do you set SMART goals for yourself? Do you find it useful? Or do you perhaps have a different method to keep you on track? I’d love to hear, let me know in the comments!
I hope to hear from you soon, and in the meantime, take care!
PS. Don’t forget to pin this for later!