Five SMART Goal Setting Tips

by Scott Harris

Think smart, think S Mart

"Think Smart, think S-Mart! (this is an Asian Market Store in my area)

Many of us know and practice SMART goals.  I really like SMART goals.

For one, they provide structure for getting things done.  Second, they conjure up a fun quote from The Army of Darkness that reminds us to “think smart, think ‘S’ MART.”  What more could a guy ask for?

Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals bring method to my madness.  The next time you call a meeting or see a problem you want to remedy, think smartly and use SMART goals.

Here are 5 tips for setting SMART goals:

  1. Make Goals Specific
    Specific goals should be clear and tell you and your employees what actions and results are expected from them.  Platitudes need not apply.
  2. Make Goals Measurable
    Measurable goals allow you to check the progress you are making toward reaching your goal.  Even better, over time they enable you to make better decisions based on measurable data instead of ambiguous feelings. Pick measurements that are easy to collect and reliable and show you are on the right track.
  3. Make Goals Attainable
    If a goal isn’t attainable, it loses its value.  Goals should stretch you, not break you, so make sure the goal is not based on luck or unreasonable. As with measurement of goals, associate them with actionable steps that are feasible for the people carrying them out.
  4. Make Goals Relevant
    Your goals should have a direct impact on your overall strategy.  Many goals sound good in theory, but if they aren’t crucial to your core business goals, abandon them.  Make goals that relate to the strategy and market positioning you’ve laid out.
  5. Give Goals Short Time Frames
    Without deadlines, distraction leads to inaction and the inevitable death of your goal.  Set a short time frame for achieving your goals and force action to reach them.  Short time frames are more effective because as your competitive landscape changes your goals will need to adapt.  Five year goals are won’t likely see the light of day.  On the other hand, one month goals are actionable.

    Break long-term goals down to bite-sized short-term goals.  The sum of the smaller, short-term goals will lead to achievement more relevant long-term overarching goals.

Remember to think smart.  Use SMART goals in your business!