Having goals is an important part of running a business. Even the best intentions often fall flat. Wanting and wishing doesn't move the needle. A goal isn't a want or a wish, it's a want or wish with action. The with action is what makes SMART goals smart for you.
SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
Ask yourself, is it SMART?
“When you run your business, you are only accountable to yourself. If you start setting goals with no accountability, you're setting yourself up for failure.”
When you create your goals, pay attention to the SMART framework and use each definition to help refine your goal into an actionable, measurable and accountable tactic.
A specific goal is a goal that has a bit of depth to it. It isn’t saying “I want to understand what cybersecurity is”, it’s saying “I want to complete the Surenomics Cybersecurity Foundational Basic Course”. Specificity is important so that you know exactly what needs to be done in order for the goal to be deemed a success.
A measurable goal is one that is based on some sort of metric. Instead of saying “I want to have good leadership skills”, a measurable goal would be: “I want to be able to capture honest feedback from staff with regards to my leadership skills by implementing a yearly anonymous survey performed by an unbiased third party.”
A goal that is attainable is a goal that you can accomplish. It's easy to get overly ambitious with goals when you get excited. However, setting goals that you will not be able to accomplish is a waste of time and effort for all involved. It’s more important to be realistic than too aspirational here. Break down larger goals into smaller goals if you need to, in order to accomplish them. For example: if your big goal is to change the culture of your company, but you don't have a pulse on what your culture is, a smaller and more attainable goal would be to launch an semi-annual employee survey. As you attain certain goals and get better at something, new goals may become attainable.
Relevant goals are goals that help you focus on your strategic roadmap. If you are trying to reach the INC500, it doesn’t make sense to waste your time learning to be a UX designer. Sure, it might be super useful to you personally, but in this case, it doesn’t help you achieve your goal.
The best goals are also time bound. Adding this constraint is important so that you are able to keep yourself accountable. Setting goals is like creating a to-do list. Your list includes what you want to do today, what you want to accomplish tomorrow, etc. With goals you may have short-term goals (daily, weekly, monthly) and longer-term goals (yearly, 5-year, 10-year, 20-year). Be very specific with the dates you choose, and make sure that you would also be able to complete the goal without unreasonable stress.
Create Your Roadmap
SMART goals help create a roadmap for achievement and accountability. One SMART goal for an aspiring mobile app owner who has spent years perfecting their app, and is now ready to venture off on their own may look like this:
By June 15, 2022, I want to have developed, and tested 2 sample designs for the app.
Was This Specific? – They didn’t say: “I want to have a mobile app” They said: “developed, and tested 2 sample designs”
Was This Measurable? – Two items can be measured.
Was This Attainable? – This blog was written in June 2021, so depending on the dedication and ability of the app developer, this may or may not be attainable. We are going to assume that 2 designs is, for our purposes, a very achievable number.
Was This Relevant? – Having a good design is essential for user-experience, so this is relevant.
Was This Time-bound? – Yes, by saying “by June 15, 2022” the goal is explicitly time-bound.
You have to start somewhere
Making goals SMART helps you to focus on specifics and hold yourself accountable for achievement. Asking yourself questions about your overall goal can also help you to create an outline for how you can achieve that goal within the timeframe you set. If you have trouble following through with actions, feel like you could be more organized, or are just looking for ways to be more efficient, reach out for a short consult to help get you motivated from thinking to doing.