Transforming Your Good Ideas into Reality: SMART Goals
Developing your business is a process of organizing your creativity and motivation into goals; your goals into action; and action into your desired results. As a business consultant, I am often brought into this process to help provide the strategy, structure, and some improved management to help ensure the success of a Strategic Plan.
One of the most important aspects of a good strategic plan is setting good goals. Defining your business goals well allows you to map out a trajectory of action to achieve a successful outcome. But not all goals are created equal. Vague wishes for greater profitability, without prior planning and specific “waypoints” to measure success, for example, aren’t likely to result in earning (or saving) you more money. You need to ensure that you make structured, informed, trackable plans to achieve your objectives. The surest way I know to put your best ideas on the right track is to transform them into success via the SMART Goals method. This time-tested and true method will help you to crystalize your ideas and initial goals into an actionable and manageable plan.
THE S.M.A.R.T. GOALS METHOD:
S for SPECIFIC
A specific goal is one that avoids the ambiguity of generalization like, “I want to make the world a better place.” While an admirable sentiment, a general statement like this doesn’t translate well into a good goal because it doesn’t speak to any of the “Who, What, When, Where, and How” needed to outline a realistic and achievable goal.
For example, if your customers are complaining about long wait times for service, you may set a goal to reduce your wait time. However, without specifics, it’s difficult to assess how and when a goal is accomplished. Instead, you might set a goal of keeping wait times for customers to under ten minutes. This is a specific goal because it addresses the problem with a clear-cut target, without ambiguity.
M for MEASURABLE
How will you know if you’re making progress toward your goal if you don’t have a measurable unit to track? A measurable goal is one that can be broken down into quantifiable elements. Defining physical manifestations of your goal makes it clearer and easier to reach.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you’ll want to set a specific target, measurable in pounds. You’ll also need a scale to measure your progress. By making a goal measurable, you remove ambiguity and provide a tangible way to monitor progress.
A for ATTAINABLE
Too often, people set unrealistic goals, which leads to anxiety, frustration, and, ultimately, failure. Think your goal through to the point of accomplishment – what does that look like? There’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals, but it’s important to establish at the outset that you have the time, money, and resources to reach your target. If you use the SMART methodology for setting goals and planning your strategy, even seemingly impossible tasks can become possible!
R for RELEVANT
If your goal is not important to you or your business, then you shouldn’t waste your valuable time pursuing it. Take the time to evaluate whether working to achieve a specific goal is in line with your overall objectives. Let’s return to the earlier example of a weight loss goal. If your overall objective is to increase your overall health, then losing weight may or may not achieve that objective; you’ll only know for sure if your weight loss goal is relevant after you’ve weighed the benefits of reaching your goal.
T for TIME BOUND
Timing is one of the most important aspects of a SMART goal. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, but you don’t set a time frame in which to achieve that goal, what happens? There is no deadline, no urgency, and ultimately no real importance or structure to the goal. As soon as you add a timeline of “within one year” to your objective, you can visualize a plan and track your progress. Any “good” goal has a (realistic) time element. If it turns out your original timeframe isn’t realistic, you can adjust it later, but without a defined time frame, it’s much harder to track your progress or generate any sense of urgency to motivate you to act.
Setting SMART goals allows you to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use resources and time efficiently, and achieve your objectives.
If your goals aren’t SMART, they’re just ideas. Contact Waypoint Management Services to learn how we can help you define and refine your business ambitions to reach your goals intelligently.