S.M.A.R.T Goals: The Importance of Goal Setting and How You Get There

If you’re one of those people who’s working hard but not getting anywhere, or maybe you see little improvement in your skills or achievements, then maybe it’s time to look at your ability to set goals.

The value of setting goals in life cannot and should not be overstated. It’ll make it easier for you to succeed if you set up clearly defined objectives based on reality. Setting up so-called SMART goals is a great way to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, and productively increase your chances of achieving everything you want in life.

As someone who’s trying to scale a business and build a digital nomad career, this is something I’ve been trying to improve massively these past few years. Sitting down and mapping out what you want to achieve can be hard if your mind is constantly all over the place – trust me, I know.

Let’s dig deeper into this method of goal setting together.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals is a framework, or strategy if you will, that will help you set up objectives for yourself by creating an effective strategy for more specific and attainable goals. It’ll help you create benchmarks from which you can measure your progress.

Basically, SMART goals are concrete targets or milestones that you want to hit over a certain period. It’s a great way to “clean up” and avoid broad and vague goals – which will cut out any unnecessary or irrelevant work that’ll take your mind away from what’s important.

SMART is an acronym for five component: “specific”, measurable”, “attainable”, “relevant”, and “time”.

S: Specific

If your goals aren’t clear and specific then it’s hard to measure progress. You might not be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve your goal. To get started, try to answer these five questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

By answering these questions you’ll be able to fully understand the purpose of what you’re aiming for.

M: Measurable

While it’s important to be specific when setting up these goals it’s just as important to make these goals measurable. By having measurable goals it’ll be easier for you to track progress and know exactly when you’ve reached the finish line.

An example could be a company that wants to improve the number of mobile app users. They should be asking themselves – by how much?

Technically, one new user is positive growth but does that mean they’ve reached their target then? Try to ask yourself these questions:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Make sure your SMART objectives include measurable and trackable benchmarks.

A: Achievable

It’s time to face a serious reality check. Your goals should be realistic – not unachievable goals that’ll make you fail and tumble. Ask yourself this: is the objective something you can reasonably accomplish?

If you can’t, then it’s time to scale back to make sure you can actually finish your work properly.

  • How can I/we accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal?

Setting the achievability of your goal is much easier when you’re alone and the one setting it. However, that’s not always the case if you work in a bigger company with several people.

For example, if your goals are handed down from elsewhere. This is where it’s super important to communicate any possible challenges you may be working under. You might not be able to influence the end goal but at least you can make your position known up-front and this way avoids potential roadblocks.

R: Relevant

Does your goal(s) matter to you? Does it align with the other goals you or your company have? Does it make sense for your business and does it make sense for your business to go after it?

Your goals must be relevant to your overall business or life goals. If not, well then it’s simply not worth accomplishing, right? If you really want this goal to be a part of your journey, then consider how you can modify it before moving forward.

You know you have a relevant goal if you can answer “yes” to all of these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?

T: Time-bound

Time is of the essence for a lot of people and companies. Therefore, to properly measure success, you and your team need to be on the same page about when you’ve reached your goal.

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

You should always include a time-related parameter in your SMART goals. This way, everybody knows how to stay on track – and when to finish.

It’s important that each of your goals include these five characteristics. If not, you might not be able to fully measure its progress.

Pros and Cons of SMART Goals

There’s no doubt that the SMART framework is an effective tool to provide clarity, focus, and motivation in order for you to reach your goals. It’ll allow you to improve your ability to reach your targets by defining your objectives and deadlines. Another pro is that it’s easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for some specialist telling you what to do.

On the other hand, there are many interpretations of SMART. Some think it has made it lose its effectiveness. Due to its lack of flexibility, some people believe that SMART doesn’t work for long-term goals. Some even suggest that it holds back creativity.

How to Achieve Your SMART Goals

Now that you know what SMART goals are, let’s quickly go through a few tips for achieving them.

Start small

Chunk down your goals into smaller, actionable items and prioritize the order of which actions you’ll want to take next. Not only will smaller steps improve your results massively – but they will also help you create an action plan and help you focus your energy.

Write it down

Whether you write down your SMART goals in a journal or type them into an app on your phone, make sure they’re documented. If you want to take it to the next level, then run through the SMART checklist and make sure it’s following the outline of the framework. Are your goals specific, measurable, attainable, and realistic within a given timeframe?

Don’t let fear hold you back

If you’re not making progress, take a look at what’s holding you back. Are you holding back because your goal or approach is unreasonable – or do you straight up fear failure? Find the source of your hesitation. It’s a critical step to overcoming your fears, mastering the art of goal setting, and most importantly ensuring your personal and professional development.

Celebrate every win

Everybody should be doing this. When you celebrate your wins – even the small ones – your brain gets a dopamine boost and your energy levels will peak. Celebrate your professional SMART goals with your team – and celebrate your personal success with your friends and family. Just make sure you celebrate!

Examples of SMART Goals

Below you find some great examples of SMART goals.

Examples of Business Smart Goals

  • Reduce overtime in the department from 150 hours per month to 50 hours per month by the end of the fiscal year with no increase in incident reports.
  • Prepare for a product launch by developing a launch checklist of activity, tasks, and due dates and drive approval by all stakeholders by April 1.
  • Gain four new clients for my business this quarter by conducting 3 or more customer meetings each week.

Examples of Professional Smart Goals

  • Develop and practice my management skills by conducting weekly 1:1s with my direct reports, quarterly 1:1s with my indirect reports, and quarterly all-hands with my team resulting in a 10% improvement in employee engagement score at the end of the year
  • Review and reduce the number of meetings on my calendar by 50% in order to enable more time for strategic planning by end of the month
  • Improve my product understanding by creating, drafting, and delivering two projects using our product by the end of the quarter

Examples of Personal Smart Goals

  • Take a 20-Minute Walk On Your Lunch Break 4 Times Per Week
  • Speak To A Family Member For Half An Hour Once Per Week
  • Take 20 Minutes Once Per Week To Reflect On Success and Achievements
  • Journal Every Day For 10 Minutes
  • Travel To 3 New Places This Year
  • Sign Up For a 5K, 10K, or 20K In The Next Month
  • Drink 2L of Water Every Day
  • Listen To a Personal Development Podcast 5 Times a Week For a Month

Since I started doing these SMART goals, I’ve managed to hit smaller and bigger goals. Having my goals mapped out with a clear road map has been a game-changer for me personally and professionally. It’s something that has and will be a big part of my life going forward – even if I decide to quit the entrepreneurial career sometime in the future.

My current list of professional and personal SMART Goals:

  • Visit 5 new countries before the end of 2024
  • Set aside 2 hours each week to learn a new skill (currently a content marketing course)
  • Don’t check social media for 1 hour every evening (experiment)
  • Grow my LinkedIn network by one relevant person each week
  • Find a creative and remote content creation job by the end of 2022 (experience)

Did you find these tips helpful, then please consider hitting the follow button to receive an e-mail every time I publish a new post. New content coming out every month about my journey of trying to become a digital nomad.

Thanks for reading,

Rasmus Bak

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