We’ve dabbled in goal-creating a little bit in the past, but never have we sallied forth into the sacred territory of how to write SMART goals. SMART goals are what separate the men from the amoebas, the idle dreamers from the all-out hustlers. But to set SMART goals, one must actually understand what they are, which is exactly what we’re covering in today’s post.
When we say SMART goals, we’re not yelling at you. We’re actually talking about goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and last but not least, Time-Bound. You need each one of these five factors to create a goal worth pursuing. If you’re missing even just one, you’re already working harder, not smarter. Seeing as they’re all equally important, let’s break them down one-by-one
A goal that is poorly defined is a goal you’ll never achieve. If you don’t know exactly what you’re reaching for, and more importantly, why you’re reaching for it, you’re starting off on a bad foot. Having a very specific goal for your business means knowing exactly what it is your business needs, versus a wishy-washy goal that makes for a foggy grip on what your business needs. Force yourself to get specific by writing it down. If you really want accountability, post it somewhere you can look at it every day, and share it with the rest of your team.
This one we have discussed at length in the past, and it’s worth going over again in detail. A goal can’t be successful if there isn’t some metric to weigh. Without measurability, how can you know when you’ve reached your goal? Without a clear target, how on earth do you know if what you’re doing is working? Once you’ve specified exactly what you want to achieve, create a way to measure your success. With a measurable goal, you can track your rate of success with concrete proof and determine if what you’re doing is working or not in the right amount of time. Plus, knowing when you’ve reached your finish line makes for a hell of a better party than, “hey, I think we sort of achieved what we wanted to?”
This is a biggie, and often its absence is the root of a lot of poorly set and sadly abandoned goals. Once you’ve specified your goal and have broken out how you’ll measure your success, pull back and ask yourself, “is this realistic, or am I setting myself up for failure?” While setting ambitious goals is admirable, when you set goals that are impossible, you set yourself up for failure and a lot of self-loathing. Setting realistic goals means increasing the chance you actually reach them, boosting your confidence and propelling you forward to tackle an even bigger follow-up goal.
Just because a goal is admirable doesn’t exactly make it relevant. As you set your goal, are you asking yourself if it’s the best thing for you or your business at the time? Maybe you want to implement product as part of your company. But what if your company is in its busiest season? What if you just signed a contract and the launch has tied up all your cash flow for the next 6 months? What if you don’t have time for a big roll out, and it confuses your customers by changing your brand identity? The same could be said on a personal level. If you run a company, just had a baby, and bought a new house, would a goal of completing a marathon by the end of the year be relevant? Likely not. It doesn’t mean the goal isn’t right. It may just not be right for right now.
Setting a timeframe for your goal is vitally important. First, it helps you stay on the path while tracking your pace for success. If you’ve set a goal of gaining 1,000 followers on Instagram by Christmas, and you’ve only added 200 by June, it should be clear to you that you’re not moving at a good pace. It will also put some pressure on you to actually get moving. Without an “end-by date,” you can technically get started whenever, which is an easy way to never get started. Set a timeframe and keep it.
Finally, let’s take a look at what some SMART goals might look like now that we’ve defined our terms.
Lame goal: I want to get fit!
SMART goal: I want to lose 10 pounds by joining a gym and working out three times a week from now until Christmas.
Lame goal: I want a well-known brand.
SMART goal: I want to increase our social media followers before this time next year by 25% by posting three times a week with researched hashtags I know are trending.
See how each of those goals are extremely specific, have the numbers required to measure success, aren’t so wild they’re not achievable, relevant to your current state, and bound by time? Including each of these factors dramatically increases the likelihood that you’ll be doing a happy dance when it comes to meeting your goals successfully.
Give it a try! Hammer out a SMART goal and tell us in the comments.
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For more help with creating SMART goals, download the SMART Marketing Worksheet. You'll receive a template that helps you lay out your SMART goals from start to finish.