SMART goals (or how to make things work)

Have you set SMART goals before? This blog will help you set SMART goals successfully.

We will also give you some great tips on time management, how to be more productive, how to set goals that will be successful, the difference between professional and personal goals, and why setting goals is important. 

We all want to achieve great things in life, but we often fail to materialize our dreams. 

Why do some people manage to achieve great things, while others do not?

The difference sometimes lies in the way people set their goals. Success depends to a large extent on how you set the things you want.

The purpose of this article is to help you set your goals more clearly and then have a better chance of accomplishing them.

The next step is to take massive action and complete what you set out to do.

So let’s start by defining this concept.

What are SMART Goals? 

As you probably already know, SMART is an acronym for features considered essential for the correct formulation of a goal.

These characteristics are the following: S – specific; M – measurable; A – achievable/affordable; R – relevant; T – time bound.

#1. Specific 

It means that the moment you write it, you know exactly what you want. Answer the following questions: What exactly do you want to achieve? What exactly do you wish for to happen? What results do you want to achieve?

Example: “I want to increase the number of customers for category A

#2. Measurable

It means that a goal can be quantified, either quantitatively or qualitatively. Answer the following questions: When will you know this goal has been achieved? How can you measure what you want to achieve?

Example: “I want to increase the number of category A customers by 20%

#3. Achievable 

It means that a goal can indeed be achieved. Answer the following questions: How can this goal be achieved? What steps will you take to achieve this? Can this goal be achieved?

Bad example: “I want to increase the number of category A customers by 20% in one day.” This is not realistic, you cannot do this in one day. 

Good example: “I want to increase the number of category A customers by 20% in a month.

#4. Relevant

It means that achieving the goal will have a major impact. Answer the following question: Is it worth the effort to reach your goal? 

When we think about relevance, we must take into account that the general objectives are part of another major purpose. 

Example: “How will the fact that the number of consumers in category A will increase by 20% help me?”

#5. Time bound

It means that the goal also contains the date by which it is expected to be achieved. 

Answer the following question: When will this goal be completed?

Example: “I want to increase the number of A category customers by 20% in 3 months from now.

Success in life begins by setting goals that are meaningful to you and that help you grow from time to time.

If you are thinking about the goal, think of it as if it is already a goal.

Think about the results, what exactly do you want to achieve both quantitatively and qualitatively.

After you have written your goal, specific, clear, positive and at the present time you may ask yourself: “So, what do I do now? How do I accomplish what I wrote here in my notebook?

You should make these SMART goals once you’re aware of your work style.

The SMART goals and 4 key points that will help you achieve them

  1. Motivation

When thinking about what you want to achieve, it is important to think about the reasons why you want it.

You have to answer the question WHY do you want that?

Clarifying the results you are looking ro is the engine, but discovering the reasons why you want to achieve that, is the fuel, is the first and most important step towards achieving the SMART goals.

Many people write their goals in diaries or all kinds of post-its but we don’t reach a goal just by looking at it on a piece of paper.

We often find all sorts of excuses: “I don’t have time”, “I don’t feel like it”, “I don’t have the money or resources necessary to achieve that goal”. 

But have you ever wondered what motivates you to accomplish this goal? WHY do you want to get what you want?

Maybe that’s why most goals can’t be reached, because they don’t have the “fuel”, the WHY.  

  1. Action

I know people who have told me that they will stop smoking tomorrow, or they will start playing sports tomorrow.

For some people it is easy to do these things but for others it is impossible.

The difference between these two types of people is the decision-making power. 

The decision to do something only takes shape when you take the first step.

You can’t say it was a good or bad decision until you’ve acted and actually did something.

That is why I consider that any decision that is not followed by at least one action is just a dream.

If you have reached this point, it means that you know clearly how to visualize, you can “feel” the results and more than that you have said several times the reasons why you want a certain thing. 

Einstein said: “The impossible becomes possible when someone comes and does what you think is impossible.”

  1. Planning

To act smart you need a plan. Most of the time you know what you want, you have clearly identified the reasons why you want it, but there are still many cases in which you do not achieve your goals. Why is that?

There is a wave of doubt. This doubt can be translated as: you do not really want what you wanted or you want a lot but you doubt your ability to achieve that.

That’s why another important ingredient after you clearly set your goals and identify the reasons why you want something,  is to outline a plan.

When you have a plan you differentiate between wanting something and wanting something so bad that you don’t just give up on the first obstacle.

  1. Acuity

If someone were to tell you in detail how many difficult things you have to do in order to finish college: failed exams, studying every day, attending seminars, classes until late in the evening, thousands of pages to learn – I think that you would question yourself if you need a degree in the first place.

When we really want something, it’s important to stay focused on the outcome.

Unfortunately, most of the time we are focused on the process of reaching the result, and we get scared or we self-sabotage.

But it is important to stay focused on the outcome. We can get the same result in different ways.

Acting smartly and knowing your outcome clearly will help you figure out what you need to do in order to reach your goal.

Examples of SMART goals

Below are some examples of how to create SMART goals according to each component of SMART goals.

  • Specific SMART goals

It is said that when you do not know exactly what you want, you will not be able to make much progress in getting that thing. This statement is not a myth.

The human mind manages to focus on tasks better when they are very specific.

In order to learn what a specific goal is, we first have to differentiate between the types of goals that are out there.

Let’s see what a more general goal looks like and what a more clearly defined one looks like. There is a big difference between them.

Here is a general type of goal:

“I want my business to make more money in 2020.”

Apparently, this is a great goal, one that many of us set ourselves at the beginning of each year: “I want to make more money this year.”

But I am missing a lot of information in this sentence.

First, it is not specified the amount of money you want to make this year, nor is the time limit within which that objective falls.

How is it possible to know when you have reached this goal? If you make 1 euro more than last year, does it mean you were successful and you have achieved your goal?

Of course not.

Here is an illustration of a specific goal:

I want to have 10,000 euros profit from my business within 1 year.

You will know that you have achieved your goal if you exceed this amount in the proposed time frame.

  • Measurable SMART goals

Here’s a phrase that is stuck in my mind: “If you can’t measure something, then it doesn’t exist.

I don’t know who the author of this sentence is, but it fits very well in the context of this article. 

Progress must be constantly measured.

Whether we’re talking about goals for your business, or more personal goals,, you will always need to make sure that the goals and plans you have are measurable.

Here is an example:

“I set out to reach 100 unique visitors on my website in 6 months.

The goal we have here is to exceed 100 unique visitors. Since there is a figure, in this case, we can say that the goal is measurable.

Thus, it fulfils the second condition that we talked about. 

  • Achievable SMART goals

Even if your goal is specific and measurable, that doesn’t mean it’s also accessible. By accessible I mean that it must be achievable.

When you are just starting a blog, it is unrealistic to aim to earn a passive income of thousands of euros almost immediately.

Considering that, probably, you are just starting out and you do not have much experience.

A goal that is inaccessible is practically impossible to achieve. Therefore, it is very important at the beginning to pay attention to this aspect.

You may want certain things that are measurable, but cannot be achieved because you do not have the necessary resources for it.

The lack of resources here is not the only thing that prevents a goal from being achievable.

Sometimes, we set ourselves a goal that seems easy to achieve, but after examining things more carefully, we realize that it is much more difficult than we predicted.

How do you know if the goal you want to achieve is accessible?

It’s a very good question, which can only be answered depending on the context.

Moreover, it is important to know very well the possibilities and resources you have.

A goal that is not accessible is almost impossible to achieve. You set unattainable goals in vain. It doesn’t matter in this case how good they sound. 

  • Relevant SMART goals

We are going to analyze if a goal is relevant. I  will use the example of an online business to provide a good example.

Let’s say you want to make more money with your website, but you only focus on traffic and ignore the conversion part.

Truth is, it doesn’t really matter if you have a lot of traffic if visitors just enter and leave the site.

In this context, a relevant goal would be to increase the conversion rate. Thus, this will help you bring higher revenue to your business.

Make sure the goal you set is relevant in that context.

  • Time bound SMART goals

Any goal you want to achieve must be within a time limit. I think this is the simplest component of the SMART goals.

Only a few examples:

• “I set out to lose 15 kg in 1 year, by going to the gym for 2 hours a day.

• “I want my turnover to increase by 500% in 2019

Okay, but when does a time limit start and end?

I mean, I set myself these things that are specific, measurable, accessible, and relevant, but what are the limits of time frame?

Here’s how you frame a goal over time:

  1. Choose a date on which your goal will begin

Example: “This goal begins on May 23, 2020.

  1. Set a date on which the goal expires

Example: “This goal is no longer valid as of January 1, 2021.

10 useful tips for those who want to set SMART goal

Consider the 10 tips below that will help you have a correct thought process so that you can achieve your goals with less pressure.

1. Behavioral changes are difficult, so start with small steps.

Start with a maximum of 1 or 2 goals. If you try to do too many things at once you will feel overwhelmed and return to your old habits.

We often tell ourselves that we want a change, or that we want to change something specific.

From word to deed, the road is difficult, but here are three rules you can keep in mind:

  • Make an inventory – When you tell yourself that you want to change something, it is good to establish what your motives are in the first place.

See what underlies the current behavior, what are its weaknesses, how it affects you in the long run or how it is viewed by those around you.

It is true that the opinion of others should take the last place, but often relatives can play the role of mirrors.

Try to project yourself in the future and analyze how you’d feel after the change. Thus, you will find the motivation to get to feel that thing authentically.

  • Change is simpler in theory – Isn’t that why you often wanted for someone else to make a change? Theoretically, from the outside, things are simpler.

When we want to change ourselves, the biggest obstacle is to become ourselves.

And if you decide to give up, it means that it is not a change that you really want.

Learn to resist when it is difficult, learn to remember what the positive result will be and to arm yourself with patience. 

  • Learn to plan – The road to achieving a goal is rarely unique. We can find one or more ways to accomplish it. It all depends on how creative or willing we are to find alternatives.

Maybe sometimes we abandon a goal considering that we will not be able to reach it, regardless of what other options we have.

And when it comes to change, strategies must be planned, with the right to be adapted along the way.

Try to make a mental plan of change. How long will it take to reach the desired result? Can you estimate a deadline? 

Think about what you will do in the first week? But in the first month?

What will be the first visible results? How did you get to them?

These imagination exercises prepare us for the path we have to take, helping us to strengthen our motivation and desire to get what we want.

2. Most of our goals for the new year are not met. Here’s why:

According to a study published in the Bulletin of Personality and Social Psychology, both joy and significance are essential in terms of adherence to plans.

So, if we see immediate results, we are more likely to maintain our habit. 

Another study published in the Journal of Science and Nature suggests that the problem comes from our inner struggle between doing what we want to do and doing what we should do.

For example, if you could stop thinking too much about how tiring it will be all the way, you would be more likely to reach your goal.

How many times have you decided at the beginning of the year that you want to lose weight?

You set a clear and achievable goal, a certain number of kg and then you made the plan – went to the gym, paid a one-year subscription… and?

Steps you must follow to make sure your New Year’s goals will be accomplished this time:

1. Establish where you are, what are you happy with and what would you change.

2. Establish what you want, where you want to go.

3. Establish what you need to change about you, what information you need to gather, what else you need to get to the new you.

4. Do a visualization exercise. Imagine that the goal is met. How are you feeling? What emotions do you have?

5. Review the list and see if it gives you the right emotions, if it makes you “vibrate”.

6. Make a vision board with your goals and show it around.

7. Establish that you are taking small steps in achieving the goal to avoid frustration.

8. Be aware that certain goals have the role of giving you a direction and if you do not reach them it is not the end of the world.

9. Review and adjust the list as you go. It is important to enjoy the process and not just the result.

Happiness is here and now…. and then !

  1. When you are thinking of making a big change, create a detailed plan that incorporates the new basic habits that you need to adopt.

In addition to making a commitment, it is important to understand what the new lifestyle entails and the behavioral traits you will need to incorporate to achieve that goal.

Make a list of everything you think you would need… from patience to going to bed earlier to wake up early.

Furthermore, you need to check if:

  • The goal is part of the overall picture of your life;
  • The goal is achievable, accessible and reasonable;
  • The goal is not misspelled, specifying what you don’t want. The goal must be positive, enhancing what you do want
  • Are you willing to sacrifice the necessary time and effort? 
  • Your subconscious part is made up of thoughts, emotions, values, beliefs, habits that resonate with your goal? Are there emotions that can block you from reaching your goal?
  • The goal is yours or does it fall under “this is how it should be/ this would be good / this would be healthy / this is what those around me want”?
  • Do you do something every day to achieve the goal? In this approach, a vision board placed in an area where you can see it daily helps the brain to be focused on what matters to you.

4. Make sure you take responsibility for your goals.

By asking a friend, hiring a coach or establishing a reward system, you will have someone who will encourage you and remind you to reevaluate where you are with your goals.

At this stage I think it would help you a lot to have a “price” that you have to pay if you do not meet your goals.

To help you, I suggest you take a look at the following accountability apps, which I am sure will help you in your journey to achieve success:

  • GoalsOnTrack – This app is a great goal tracker because it lets you break your goal into smaller and more achievable chunks. It also tracks your progress and has great insights on time management.
  • Timeful – This is the best app to find free time in your calendar and to remind you to complete your daily tasks. 
  • Irunurun – With this app tracking goals is really fun. For those of you who rely on rewards for “good deeds”, this is just the perfect app.
  • StickK – If you want to take things to the next level, this is the perfect app for you. Because, guess what, if you do not do what you set out to do – you will have to pay! However, this is only optional and you can also choose where the money goes (to a friend, a charity or any other cause you believe in). 
  • Beeminder – It is similar to StickK as in you have to pay money if you do not do your tasks. The app collects data from other productivity apps and also gives you a second chance if you’ve failed. 
  • Pact – This app will literally pay you for accomplishing your goals. Of course, you will not become a millionaire by the end of the month, but it does the trick.
  • Coach.me – It offers you access to affordable coaches out there on anything you could imagine: productivity, fitness, mindfulness, writing, cooking and so on. Having a coach to keep you accountable will definitely increase your chances of success. 

5. Make sure your goals are realistic and not exaggerated given the whole context in which you need to implement them.

It is very easy to say that you want to run a marathon, but if you have a job that requires your full presence, family obligations and two puppies, chances are that running a marathon is not a realistic goal. 

Take a moment to think about your lifestyle. Maybe running 5 km or a run in the park every Saturday morning are more reasonable options.

It is also very important to know our limits.

For this, you need to stop comparing yourself with your colleagues, friends, or some influencer on Instagram.

It is best to compare yourself with the one you were a week ago, a month or a year ago. 

Make notes and notice how you evolved, but also what you need to work on more. Start with small steps, and give yourself a lot of patience and self-love in this process. 

Life is not a competition, and every moment must be enjoyed and lived consciously.

Perhaps this is the most important thing you can do for yourself, to let yourself live in the present and to enjoy actually living.

6. Make sure you have fun creating your goals.

If the goal doesn’t excite you or challenge you in the right way, it’s not worth pursuing.

How much do you like what you do? Until you get to know this, you won’t even know when to stop searching.

And, if you are like most people, and underestimate this problem, you will be tempted to stop searching too soon.

You will end up in a job chosen by your parents or the desire to earn money or fame.

To do what you love does not mean to do what you like most right now and right here.

Even Einstein probably had his moments when he wanted to have a coffee, but he thought he had to finish what he had to do first.

The rule of doing what you love includes a certain amount of time.

It does not mean to do what you enjoy the most in this second, but what makes you happy for a longer period of time, a week, a month.

So make sure that by accomplishing this goal, you are actually doing something that you love.

7. Get clarity on the purpose of these new goals.

Why are they important? Make sure you review the goal along the way.

What’s important to you?

In order to live in accordance with what is important for you in life, the essential condition is to be congruent with your own personal values.

Thus, you will be able to easily evolve on any personal development plan and you will enjoy extra energy. 

When you live according to your personal values, you live a passionate life and get out of bed happy every morning. In fact, you are congruent with yourself and the one you want to become.

When you lack the motivation and desire to do what you set out to do, the problem is not always the thing itself that you have to do, but the fact that the goal is not well chosen. 

The essential question to ask yourself is whether you really want that goal or just want it because everyone does.

Many times we struggle to get things that we think will make us happy and after we get them we realize that this is not the case at all.

8. Give yourself at least 3 months to meet your new goals.

You need an average of 66 days to form a new habit. You need at least 3 months to do something different every day to create new connections in the brain and then do them automatically.

A habit is a context-dependent repetition. For example, before going to bed, brush your teeth.

The more you brush your teeth in response to the time of bed, the stronger the neural connections, until brushing your teeth becomes an automatic gesture, which you do not think too much. A new habit was born.

Habits (automatisms) are effective because they help us conserve the mental energy we would otherwise need to monitor and control these behaviors, energy that we can use in other newer and / or heavier activities.

I want you to use this reference system from now on, and easily change the things you want from yourself!

9. Create a plan to celebrate once you have achieved a goal.

It is important to celebrate success. Then you can confidently create another goal to focus on.

The moment we celebrate a success, we take a piece of time to fully enjoy it, we have time to process and truly understand its value, but we also charge ourselves with mental energy to face a new challenge. 

The moment you celebrate your success, you automatically become more aware of it and learn to appreciate yourself more.

Or, a large part of success in life depends on the attitude with which you start on the road, the optimism with which you approach a situation and the experience with which you manage things.

When you gain enough confidence and become aware of small victories, you realize that few things are unattainable, especially if you believe in them.

10. Read books about building habits or watch motivational videos about people who do great things to inspire you along the way.

Next, I am going to recommend some books and videos that will motivate and inspire you to create goals that will transform you.

Books recommendations on how to set SMART goals (7)

  • Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One, by Dr. Joe Dispenza 

Breaking the habit of being yourself is a bold title and an out-of-the-box perspective.

Combining research in quantum physics, neuroscience, brain chemistry, biology and genetics, the author argues that we are not condemned to our genes or behavior for the rest of our lives.

If we are sad, dissatisfied, insecure or in any other way, we can change the reality we live in, changing the behavioral pattern we have become accustomed to.

Joe Dispenza’s second volume – Train Your Brain – deals in detail with scientifically documented mental transformation techniques throughout the two volumes.

  • Grit, by Angela Duckworth

At the border between passion and perseverance, it is not talent that paves the way to success, but what Angela Duckworth calls grit.

Grit is about being persistent even when the road is paved with hardships because it is the obstacles that lead us to success.

You can also listen to Angela in a famous TedTalk in which she uses a personal story to show how perseverance actually dictates success, not genius or a form of innate talent.

  • The power of now, by Eckhart Tolle

Translated into over 33 languages, the book’s message is as simple as possible: if we want to be happy, we must be present.

The book encourages us to escape the trap of regrets about the past or the constant anticipation of the future, which often makes us anxious.

Becoming anchored in the “now” we regain control, balance and power.

You can listen to Eckhart Tolle when you have a break, this audio can be a good introduction to the art of meditation. 

  • Eat that frog, by Brian Tracy

Eating the frog is a recommendation to change the way you approach daily tasks.

The frog is the most awkward task on the daily to-do list, the one you always leave behind, but whose postponement consumes you emotionally.

Brian Tracy comes up with a 21-step solution for time and energy management, based on only three principles: decision-making, discipline and determination.

They are all yours, so you are responsible for putting them into practice from the beginning.

  • Goals: How to Get the Most out of Your Life, by Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar is a source of inspiration and tactical ideas for professionals in any industry.

The purpose of the dozens of books he has written is to improve people’s careers through sales strategies, whether it’s ideas, products, services or promoting their own skills.

His motto is “Selling is not something you do to someone, it is something you do for someone.”

His book Goals: How to Get the Most out of Your Life, challenges the reader to improve their mood and energy level because often the main obstacle to success is the reluctance to dare.

Other leading books written by the same author are Reasons to Smile, On the Peaks of Success, Beyond the Top, The Art of Selling.

  • Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us Kindle Edition, by Daniel H. Pink

Whether you’re working in the field of human resources or you’re just curious to find out what makes people successful in the office or in professional life, Daniel Pink’s book is a good source of research.

Built in the form of an easy-to-follow manual, it presents practical ideas and strategies for developing yourself and others.

The secret of high satisfaction and performance is not the financial reward, but the human need to lead our own lives, to innovate and to see the results of our work.

In other words, we need to be given confidence and autonomy.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, by Stephen R. Covey

We end the list with the most influential personal development book, a classic and a must-read for anyone who wants to live a happy and successful life.

What Steven Covey calls the “true north” is personal ethics, values that can improve our productivity and help us in our personal pursuit of goals.

The book focuses on three main themes: independence, interdependence and continuous improvement.

It is an absolute must for anyone looking to improve their life.

If you’re worried because you’ll never be able to read these books, or just want to learn some effective ways to learn faster, here’s how you can get the best results from personal development books:

  • Make a daily reading routine

You do not have to finish a book in record time and it is not recommended to read before bed, because you will no longer have the power to assimilate information.

It is best to set a goal to read a number of pages each morning. You can call this morning food for thought and it will feed you for the rest of the day.

  • Take notes

Whether you go through the pages with a colored marker in your hand or write on sticky notes important thoughts, the action itself will help you fix the information better in your memory and will make it easier return each time to the passages that you found most useful.

  • Build a memory system

Another way to take notes, but in a more organized system. Here is a very structured example that you can adapt to your style.

  • Practice ideas

Most personal development books contain simple exercises that you can practice in your daily life.

For example, if you have never practiced meditation, although you find the concept interesting, close the book and start with a few breathing exercises.

  • Read less and apply more

Or reread the books that resonated with you the most.

This rule of reading less and applying more means, in fact, that it is more important to apply the teachings from a single book than to quickly devour five that you allow to dust off in the library, along with ideas on which you do not put into practice.

  • Don’t use books as an excuse to procrastinate

If you read many personal development books, but do not make the transition from a passive to a proactive attitude, there are great chances to use them as an excuse to postpone decisions, actions, changes.

It is practically an attitude completely opposed to all the ideas promoted in the books above.

Probably the most important lesson is self-awareness.

Become aware of what you are doing and make an effort to change the aspects that make you unhappy.

Start with a book and continue with an experience.

Videos recommendations on how to make SMART goals  (5)

  1. SMART Goals – Quick Overview, from DecisionSkills

This is a very explanatory and very helpful video on S.M.A.R.T. Goals/Decision Skills, and the content of this video will just reinforce your learning skills on this topic. 

Check out the video’s description box as it will redirect you to a FREE online course on setting goals.

  1. Setting SMART Goals – How To Properly Set a Goal, from Better Than Yesterday

This short animated video is best for explaining that without using the SMART framework, people often fail to make their goals substantial leading to them not achieving their targets.

  1. LearnStorm Growth Mindset: How to write a SMART goal, from Khan Academy

This video from Khan Academy is part of the Growth Mindset Curriculum available with LearnStorm, a back-to-school program aimed at helping students start the school year strong.

The growth mindset curriculum helps students take their own life experiences and apply their learnings in the face of frustration, making mistakes and learning new things. 

  1.  Why the secret to success is setting the right goals | John Doerr, a TED talk

In this TED talk video, John Doerr shows us how we can get back on track with “Objectives and Key Results,” or OKRs — a goal-setting system that’s been employed by the likes of Google, Intel and Bono to set and execute on audacious goals.

  1.  SMARTER goal setting, from Creative Huddle

Yet another interesting animation on how to set and achieve ambitious goals and objectives through sound planning, focused effort and a growth mindset. 

Why should we set SMART goals?

Do you have a stressful job? Do you have a family that needs you, your attention, care, time and effort? Do you have kids?

Then, most likely, you have a full plate, as they say.

And all together they give you a rhythm and a schedule based largely on what psychologists teach us to avoid: the “must do”.

And yet, they must be done, because otherwise, there are consequences that we do not want.

And in this whirlwind, we forget about our goals, we consider that taking children to school on time is a goal achieved (and we are not wrong at all), but we lose sight of one important thing: what do we really want for ourselves?

Setting goals helps us, first and foremost, to return to ourselves and our needs.

Secondly, it determines us to establish an order of things, a schedule, to organize ourselves better and to work strategically, more efficiently.

No matter how many external requests we receive, whether they come from our family or our boss at work, let’s not forget our own requests and expectations from ourselves.

If you want to keep your balance, not to derail, not to become exhausted or unhappy, frustrated, dissatisfied, do not forget your own goals.

Yes, it will take some time to reach them because other requests appear along the way, the time allocated to them may be too short, energy may be lacking, or you may go through moments when their importance decreases.

But do not let them disappear and do not give them up.

Because they represent you, and the work you do to achieve them will give you the satisfaction you need to cope more easily with everyday tasks.

Do you want to try something? Set an average goal and set a deadline. Deadlines are important in order to make a definite plan.

One day” it never works and leaves too many doors open for procrastination.

Then make your plan. What did you set out to do in the first week? Or in the first month?

When do you have time to deal with what you set out to do? What do you actually have to do?

Setting goals and stepping towards them helps you bring order to other planes of your life. Put them on paper if it helps.

Mental organization is the first aid to deal with stress, everyday problems and even the unforeseen. Isn’t it worth a try?

Setting professional goals

You need to make a very clear distinction between long-term professional goals and the goals you intend to achieve in the near future.

The first, are future-oriented and do not include effective steps to achieve the goal. For example, at my first job, when I worked in a call center, I set out to be the best in my sales team.

I was 19 years old and being in an environment with so many young people felt like I was in a competition when I was at work.

And that was my long-term goal. It wasn’t exactly the most refined, but at that moment it helped me find the motivation to go to work after many hours spent in college.

But my desire to be the best in the sales team did not describe how the professional goal will be achieved.

It needed some preliminary steps, and here is where the short-term goals come. 

These are specific achievements that will help you achieve your dream goal in time.

They are usually measurable and run over a well-defined period. One goal in order to become the best in the team was to improve my knowledge of the products I was selling, in my case subscriptions to international magazines. 

You can’t perform if you don’t know the smallest details about each publication and it’s important to have the right answer to any question you might be asked.

With such small but essential steps, you will be closer to achieving the goal you have set for yourself.

Setting a professional goal with the help of the SMART principle

I remind you that SMART is an acronym that you can use successfully in setting goals.

Its criteria are usually attributed to the concept of Objective Management developed by Peter Drucker. 

The first use of the term appears in the November 1981 issue of Management Review in a material signed by George T. Doran.

After that, Professor Robert S. Rubin (Saint Louis University) wrote about SMART in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He said that SMART goals mean different things to different people.

I also remind you that to ensure that your goals are clear and accessible, each predefined goal must be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Accessible
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

Professor Rubin also notes that the SMART goals definition may need updating to reflect the importance of effectiveness and feedback.

Some authors have extended it to include additional areas of focus; SMARTER, for example, includes evaluation and review.

Why should you be guided by the SMART goal framework?

It sets the boundaries and defines the steps you need to follow, the resources needed to get there, and the milestones that indicate progress along the way.

With SMART goals, you are more likely to achieve your professional goals quickly and efficiently.

Examples of professional goals

Your resume attracts the employer’s attention if it starts with a professional goal. Here are some examples of clearly stated goals:

  • I want to continue my career in acquisitions for a full-time job.

Be as explicit as possible so that the employer understands what you want and if you are suitable for the role.

  • I want a part-time job.

This is a clear example that does not mislead the recruiter.

What should a professional goal NOT look like?

  • I want a job that is as well rated as possible in a large company.

Meaning? The best rated does not say anything. Rated from what point of view? Moreover, a large company can even be a small company.

Depending on the turnover, subsidiaries, number of customers, etc. Try to be as explicit as possible when describing your professional goal.

And that will increase your chances of being called for an interview.

  • I want to develop professionally working for a company that capitalizes on my skills.

Meaning? It follows from this goal that the candidate has many requests. To develop professionally and the employer to capitalize on his skills.

But what does he offer in return? It is preferable to start with what you can offer to the company, and to discuss your requirements at the interview.

A better approach would be: I want to develop professionally in a company where I can work in a team and contribute with my colleagues to meet the company’s goals. 

Employers appreciate candidates who align with the company’s values ​​and goals.

Choosing the right professional goal for you

Although many people search online for examples of a suitable professional goal to be included in their CV, it should be chosen according to the personality and desires of each person, not in order to conquer a potential employer.

Here are some recommendations by which you can find the right one for you:

  • Honesty comes first

Sincerity is really the best policy when it comes to your career, and this affirmation also applies to writing a professional goal.

Being clear and honest about your ambitions is a mutually beneficial solution for both you and your potential employer.

Not only do you avoid awkward conversations with future colleagues and managers, but this way you will get learning and development opportunities in line with your priorities.

  • Contribution on a larger scale

Whatever position you hold, achieving a professional goal can also help improve team productivity.

This can be easily lost sight of when you are buried in everyday tasks, but the time spent thinking about a professional goal is a good opportunity to remember how you can make a difference.

  • Better analyze your goal 

It is worth spending some time thinking not only about what looks good in your resume, but also about what you are trying to achieve through it.

Before the final decision you should ask yourself questions such as:

  • What are the key job priorities?
  • What is necessary for you and what would be nice to have?
  • What do you think is most important about the work you do?
  • Choose a professional goal that will help you achieve a good balance

Ideally, your goals will contribute to your professional accomplishments  without eating your free time or affecting your relationships.

You will have to walk through unexplored territories, but you will not completely leave the areas you are already familiar with. 

It can be tempting to stay well inside the comfort zone or, on the contrary, to venture too far outside it.

Recommended is a mix between the two areas of comfort and challenges.

  • Keep an eye on your progress

It is very easy to write down your goals at the beginning of the year and then examine them in the middle of the period and at the end of it.

Ideally, you should review and update them as your priorities change.

  • Write professional goals in your own style

Some people prefer longer, more detailed goals; others on the short ones. I for one, I prefer a mix between the two.

I start with a sentence that describes the result I am trying to achieve and then I write a few steps that I plan to go through to achieve my goal.

Setting personal goals

Don’t just set professional goals. Setting goals for your personal life will help you in the future.

You can set SMART goals to progress in several areas  that define your lifestyle (hobbies, health, education). In addition, setting personal goals can help you succeed in your career.

Bonus: some of your personal pleasures can even be included in your resume, especially if they are relevant to the job you are applying for.

If you improve the way you spend your time, you will have enough energy and you will be more focused at work.

Examples of personal goals

  • Become better at a sport you play
  • To improve a skill that can be useful later in your career (graphic design, public speaking)
  • Expand your area of ​​knowledge in a certain field with the help of professional development courses
  • Focus on improving certain problematic relationships
  • Save money on a major purchase
  • Get physically ready for a marathon

What impact will achieving a SMART goal have on your life

The correct setting of professional and personal SMART goals will have infinite advantages for you.

They will not only have a positive impact on your career, but also on your personal life.

And that’s why you shouldn’t postpone their setting for a second more. Here are some of the benefits of SMART goals:

  • You will focus better

Having a specific goal to pursue means that you need to stay focused on it long enough to achieve it.

But unlike a short-term one, it will make its mark on your whole life and the way you manage your time.

  • You will have more confidence in yourself

Trust is something you really need to have the courage to ask for what you want in life.

If your self-esteem is usually low, setting a few professional goals will completely change the situation.

The moment you bring a new priority into your life, you will not wait for things to happen and you will no longer be guided by doubts and fears.

  • You will give extra meaning to your life

Without a goal in mind, you’re probably not very excited when you wake up in the morning to start your day.

Chances are you feel stuck in a routine due to lack of progress in your work. And this, over time, can easily lead to depression.

  • You will perform better

Setting both professional and personal goals has been shown to improve performance in the workplace.

Go to work on time, with a mindset that will help you maintain your high energy level until the end of the work day.

Also, do not feel overwhelmed by new projects and tasks, but look forward to them because each of them can lead to something exciting and significant.

More responsibility should not scare you because it is necessary if you want to reach the top.

Things to remember from this blog

In this blog post, we talked all about what setting SMART goals mean, why it is important to set SMART goals and what impact achieving goals will have on your life.

The most important things to remember from this blog:

  • SMART is an acronym that you can use successfully in setting goals. Its criteria are usually attributed to the concept of Objective Management developed by Peter Drucker. 
  • To ensure that your goals are clear and accessible, each predefined goal must be: Specific, Measurable, Accessible, Relevant, Time bound.
  • Make sure your goals are realistic and not exaggerated given the whole context in which you need to implement them.
  • Read books about building habits or watch motivational videos about people who do great things to inspire you along the way.
  • Don’t just set professional goals. Setting goals for your personal life will also help you in the future.
  • The moment you set a SMART goal, you will not wait for things to happen and you will no longer be guided by doubts and fears.

FAQ about SMART goals

What is a smart goal example?

Here is a SMART goal example using all the criteria:

Specific: I want to become a doctor.

Measurable: I want to become a doctor and open my own GP practice.

Achievable: I want to become a doctor and open my own GP practice after I graduate med-school.

Relevant: I plan to become a doctor in order to take over my dad’s practice.

Time bound: I plan to become a doctor after I finish my 6 year fellowship.

What are the five smart goals?

The five SMART goals criteria are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

How do I write a smart goal?

To write a SMART goal you need to make sure you understand the SMART objectives definition:

– Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

– Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

– Achievable (agreed, attainable).

– Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).

What does measurable mean in smart goals?

Measurable in SMART goals  means that a goal can be quantified, either quantitatively or qualitatively.

Answer the following questions: When will you know this goal has been achieved? How can you measure what you want to achieve?

What are examples of goals?

Some examples of goals can be: to increase your self confidence, to get a raise, to improve your body language, to overcome your fears… Make sure you set them according to the SMART plan.

What kind of goals should I set for myself?

Some goals that you should set for yourself using the SMART method are:

– To improve a skill that can be useful later in your career (graphic design, public speaking)

– Expand your area of ​​knowledge in a certain field with the help of professional development courses

– Focus on improving certain problematic relationships.

Further reading

Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, by Brian Tracy 

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals, by Michael Hyatt 

The Desire Map, by Danielle LaPorte

Goal Setting for Success, by Eddie de Jong 

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals, by Heidi Grant Halvorson

References

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (1990). A theory of goal setting & task performance. Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P.  (1979). Goal Setting-A Motivational Technique That Works 

Locke, E. A(1996). Motivation through conscious goal setting. Applied & Preventive Psychology 5 :117-124 

Schunk, D. H. (1990). Goal Setting and Self-Efficacy During Self-Regulated Learning. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 71–86.

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