How to Make SMART Goals Work for You

Why It Matters

Before SMART goals, traditional goal-setting was a lot lot like wishful thinking. When you apply the five characteristics of SMART goals, you are making goals that you are more likely to achieve.

We accomplish more when we set and achieve goals. Think of SMART goals as a tool of Management by Objectives. 

What Makes a SMART Goal?

Your goal is a SMART goal when it contains these characteristics:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Examples

Sales Goal, the Wrong Way

"We will increase sales significantly in the new year."

  • Specific: no, because there isn't a specific goal
  • Measurable: no, because there's nothing to measure
  • Attainable: no, because "significantly" cannot be attained
  • Realistic: no, because "significantly" is subjective, not realistic
  • Time-Bound: no, because there is no specific due date; is it a calendar year or a fiscal year?

Sales Goal, the Right Way

"We will achieve $5 million in net sales by December 31, 2014."

  • Specific:  we are specifically measuring net sales
  • Measurable:  every day, we know our year-to-date sales
  • Attainable:  $5 million is a 15% increase from last year's sales
  • Realistic: a 15% increase is identical to the previous year's increase
  • Time-Bound: it has a due date of December 31st

Make It Personal

It's easy to create SMART goals that will serve you all year long. Start by writing your sales goal in the most general terms possible. Then convert it to a SMART goal:

  1. Review the "Specific" portion of your goal. Make sure it specifies net sales. Change the wording as needed.
  2. Review the "Measurable" portion of your goal. Make sure you have quantified the specific dollar value of your goal. Change the wording as needed.
  3. Review the "Attainable" portion of your goal. Make sure the goal is appropriate and achievable. Change the wording as needed.
  4. Review the "Realistic" portion of your goal. Make sure it is results-oriented, serving the organization's needs. Change the wording as needed.
  5. Review the "Time-Bound" portion of your goal. Make sure it has a specific due date. Change the wording as needed.

Compare your "un-SMART" sales goal to your completed SMART goal. Look what you've accomplished!

Does your organization have goals for marketing, HR, finance and leadership? Use your new skills to develop SMART goals for each of those business functions.