The goals you’ve not set today are desires you’ll not have tomorrow...
Setting goals is important. There’s no second opinion on that.
In this article you’ll learn:
- What are SMART goals?
- The benefits of S.M.A.R.T goal-setting
- How to write SMART goals using the 5-Step SMART Goal-Setting Formula
- BONUS: If you stay till the end we’ll share with you 6 SMART goals set by us.
Our goal is to teach you everything you need to know about S.M.A.R.T goals in 12 minutes or less, so you can understand and set them in both your personal and professional life.
1. What are SMART goals?
Have you ever set goals that you didn’t achieve? Well, chances are because those goals weren’t that SMART... And before you agree or deny this, let’s first define what S.M.A.R.T stands for.
S.M.A.R.T Goal Definition
- S = Specific
- M = Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Relevant
- T = Time-bound
If your goals sound more like a daydream than a plan you’re probably not going to achieve them.
The keyword is “plan”. When it comes to SMART Goals the more specific you are, the better it is. For example, “I want to lose some weight” isn’t specific at all...
But “I want to lose weight by doing cardio workouts 5 times a week in the local gym with a personal coach” sounds very specific to me.
The 4 Questions to set a Specific Goal:
1. What exactly?
2. How exactly?
3. Who is involved?
4. Where is it located?
Specific Goal Example
Imagine that you want to be more productive in 2020. Instead of defining your goal as “I want to be more productive next year”. Remember what you’ve just learned and be specific.
Specific goal: “I want to be more productive at work by setting SMART goals, leveraging the 80/20 principle, and communicating more openly with my teammates so I can complete more tasks faster and get a promotion.”
1) What exactly?
be more productive at work so I can complete more tasks faster and get a promotion
2) How exactly?
by setting SMART goals, leveraging the 80/20 principle, and communicating more openly
3) Who is involved?
me (and my teammates, too)
4) Where is it located?
at work, in the office
Imagine that you’re traveling on the highway. The destination is that city that you've always dreamed of visiting. You get excited and you go full-speed ahead!
You travel for an hour. Two hours. Four hours. Six hours. But there’s still not even a road sign on the highway about your dream city…
You also notice that your gas tank is half empty. Realizing that if you continue... Soon you won’t have enough fuel to go back home.
How far would go if you didn’t see any gas stations on the way and you aren't sure that this is the right highway to your dream city?
In this situation, most people would press the emergency brake and turn the car immediately! But what if that dream city was just one mile away? What if there was a road sign telling you that?
Moral of the story: Set goals that are measurable so you can track your progress and stay on the right track even during hard times.
By definition, a Measurable goal is a goal that you can express with numbers and see where are you at now and how soon you’ll be able to achieve it with your current tempo.
Measurable goals are all about numbers, numbers, and numbers.
The 3 Questions that check if a goal is Measurable:
1. Is it defined by numbers?
2. Can you tell what’s your current progress expressed with numbers?
3. Based on your progress can you forecast when you’ll achieve your goal?
If you've answered YES to these questions - Congrats! Your goal is measurable.
If you have said NO, pay extra attention to the example below.
Measurable Goal Example
Let’s say that your goal is to “get rich”. Start by defining "rich" first. It can be having $1,000,000 in your bank account but it also can be making $10,000 per month.
Let’s pick the second one.
The important part isn't the number itself but the clarity it can give you. Because...
Whatever the mind can conceive, you can achieve.
Measurable goal: “I want to make $10,000 per month working 4 hours per day”
1) Is it defined by numbers? - YES
$10,000 per month by working 4 hours per day
2) Can you tell what’s your current progress? - YES
if you make $5,000 per month for a half-work day now. You need $5,000 more so your progress is 50%
3) Based on your progress can you forecast when you’ll achieve your goal? - YES
If you know that every year you raise your income by $1,000. And you need $5,000 thousand more. It’ll take you 5 years to achieve your goal.
SMART Goal is achievable when you have the resources (time, money, conditions) to achieve it in a reasonable time defined by your own understanding of reasonable.
So how this definition applies to you in practice? If your goal is specific and measurable you should know how long would it take and how much resources would it cost you.
What you have to do now is to imagine the worst-case scenario and answer the 3 questions below to determine if your goal is achievable.
3 Questions to see if your goal is Achievable:
1. Do I have the time?
2. Do I have the resources?
3. Are there any outer conditions preventing me?
Tip: Don’t half-ass this step and don't be overly optimistic. This is an important reality check that you should imagine as a small training today for your big success tomorrow!
The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle.
Achievable Goal Example
This winter I’m planning to have a vacation in Vitosha, a mountain in Bulgaria. So I set a goal for myself to “learn skiing”. Yeah, why not? Winter sports like skiing and snowboarding are cool! But let’s see if this goal is achievable for me in practice…
Achievable goal: “I want to learn skiing this winter.”
1) Do I have the time? - YES
I have the weekends free and extra 5 days paid leave for this year.
2) Do I have the resources? - YES
I have money for the transport, the skiing coach and the ski lift card.
3) Are there any outer conditions preventing me? - NO
The weather forecast for Bulgaria says that it’ll snow in the Vitosha mountain this December.
The Relevant part of SMART Goal is to help you determine how important the goal is for you.
It’s both the most important from the SMART framework and the most skipped one, too.
Imagine that you're chasing a huge goal for a decade. Hard work. Sleepless nights. Time away from friends and family. Just to find out that when you finally achieve the goal, it isn't that important for you anymore.
Achieving goals is cool, but achieving goals that matter is cooler!
To save you a decade of regret, we’ve listed 5 profound questions to ask yourself before chasing your next big goal.
5 Questions to show you if your goal is Relevant
1. Does it fit my bigger picture?
2. Would it make me happier?
3. Is it the best time to pursue this goal?
4. Is this goal the most value/effort efficient right now? (The 80/20 Principle*)
5. Is this goal still relevant for me? (while working on your goal)
*The 80/20 Principle states that 80% of our results are usually produced by only 20% of our efforts
Relevant Goal Example
One goal can mean everything for one person. The same goal can mean nothing for another at the same time.
That’s why it’s impossible to give you an example of a goal that’s both relevant to you and me.
So to help you better understand the R in the SMART formula, I’ll share a personal goal that’s relevant to me.
Relevant goal: “I want to have $10,000 of leveraged income per month.”
❗ Tip: If your goal doesn’t excite you in the first, don’t bother aiming for it. It may not be the right one for you!
What doesn’t get scheduled in time, doesn’t get done.
By definition, a Time-bound goal is a goal that’s bound to time by having a start and end date.
The main difference between an incomplete SMAR goal and an achieved SMART goal is the T that stands for Time-bound. Time-bound means that SMART goals must be scheduled for execution and have a realistic deadline.
3 Questions to bind your goal to Time & Get it done
1. When I will start pursuing my goal?
2. How long would it take me to achieve my goal?
3. By when should I have achieved my goal?
Tip: Answer these questions with a specific date, for example like 26/11/2019.
Time-bound Goal Example
Imagine that you “want to lose 6kg (13lbs)”. First, you need to define when would you like to start? And because it’s almost New Year let’s begin on 01/01/2020 by setting the goal as a New Year’s Resolution.
Second, you should estimate how long would it take you to achieve the goal in the worst-case scenario. And third, knowing the start date and the estimation of the goal, you should calculate the deadline by adding the estimation to the start date.
Time-bound Goal: “I want to lose 6kg (13lbs) starting as a New Year’s resolution in 2020 achieving it by March 27th, 2020.”
1) When I will start pursuing my goal?
Jan 1st, 2020
2) How long would it take me to achieve my goal?
6 weeks (1kg per week according to weight-loss studies) + 2 weeks buffer (if I get lazy and skip workouts)
3) By when should I have achieved my goal?
by March 27th, 2020
SMART Goal: "I want to get my first 100 blog subscribers by Jan. 7, 2020 by producing quality and helpful content about project management, productivity, and business growth once a week every week."
Smart isn’t it? That’s exactly how your S.M.A.R.T goals should sound. To recap SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
In the next sections, we’ll talk briefly about the benefits and advantages of setting SMART goals, teach you exactly how to write them, and also give you 6 bonus SMART goal examples at the end!
2. The Benefits of S.M.A.R.T goal-setting
Be specific and know exactly what should be done
SMART goals force you to define your objectives clearly with the actions required for achieving them. This way you’ll know what, with whom, and where, should be done to achieve your goal.
Track the progress of your goal
SMART goals are measurable meaning their target must be defined by a number. Knowing this number allows you to know where you are at in your journey and approximately when you’ll achieve your goal.
Keep you motivated
SMART goals must be realistic and achievable. Combine that with having a clear action plan with the ability to track your progress. If that doesn’t motivate then the goal you’ve chosen may not be relevant to you.
Set only goals that matter
SMART goals required a relevancy check by asking yourself profound questions before and during chasing the goal. This way you can focus on what’s important for you and what brings you closer to your dreams.
BONUS: Keep you responsible for the result
SMART goals are realistic, measurable, and have a concrete deadline. Meaning that when the deadline approaches. You can sit, see the numbers and tell if the goal was met, and what progress you made. No excuses. No second opinion on that.
Track your progress.
3. How to write SMART Goals: The 5-Step SMART Goal-Setting Formula
SMART goal-setting may sound hard, yet is simple. Especially when you have a step-by-step framework for setting SMART goals.
In this part, we’ll talk about “How to set SMART goals?” and give you the 5-step formula that’ll empower to turn any goal into a SMART one.
0. Choose a goal
This step is the easiest, yet the most critical. Let’s say that we want to get in shape for 2020 by setting a goal to lose some weight.
Goal: Lose some weight.
1. Make it Specific
“Lose some weight” sounds very vague and lazy. If we set our goals like that chances are that’ll we’ll be 5 pounds heavier after the Christmas holidays.
So let’s stop the vicious fail, give up, regret cycle and make our goal specific.
Specific Goal: “Lose weight and get in shape to look good and be healthy. By doing abs-workout at home every day and hitting the local gym near the office with my best friend 3 times a week.”
Well, that sounds much more accomplishable than “lose some weight” but it’s still far from a SMART goal. So let’s make it measurable!
2. Make it Measurable
Now we are specific why we want to lose weight and how to do it but we still haven’t defined what “lose some weight” means for us. It can be losing 2 pounds (1kg) and it also can be losing 44 pounds(20kg).
In my case, I’m 90kg (198lbs) and want to become 82kg (180lbs) meaning that I should lose 8kg (18lbs). So my target would be losing 8kg.
Specific Measurable Goal: “Lose 8kg and get in shape to look good and be healthy by doing abs-workout at home every day and hitting the local gym near the office 3 times a week with my best friend.”
3. Check if it is Achievable
So far we know how much weight we want to lose and we’re specific about how to achieve it but do we know if it’s actually achievable for us?
Now is the time to get critical and make a quick reality check. It’s better to re-think your strategy now than to fail miserably, give up, or regret later.
Every battle is won before it is fought.Sun Tzu (544 BC -496 BC) The Greatest Chinese military strategist
4. Check if it is Relevant
People pursue goals and achievements they don't want with time & resources they don't have to impress people they don't like.
Make sure the goal you choose matters to you and that it’ll make you happy once you achieve it.
5. Make it Time-bound
A goal without a deadline is nothing but a dream…Napoleon Hill
If you want to make your goal more than a daydream. If you want to make your goal a reality. You must set a specific deadline and start executing…
Here’s how the final version of the Weight Loss goal should sound.
SMART Goal: “I want to lose 8kg and get in shape by Feb 27th, 2019 by doing abs-workout at home every day and hitting the local gym near the office 3 times a week with my best friend. So I can look good and be healthy!”
SMART is a goal-setting framework that helps individuals and business to define clearer actionable goals and achieve on-time.
To recap, the acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.
If you’ve reached so far, I want to congratulate you for investing the time learning something new!
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6 SMART Goal Examples
1. Website Traffic Goal
Specific: Increase monthly website new sessions by producing 2 quality blog articles about productivity and project management every week.
Measurable: Increase by 25% (1,743 new users)
Achievable: 1) One blog article usually grants us around ~425 new sessions and till December we can produce 6 blog articles hence we can have at least 1,743 new users.
2) Can we produce 2 quality blog articles per week? Absolutely!
Relevant: Yes, it fits and best serves our mission to impact 100,000 startup and product development teams.
Time-bound: December 18th, 2019
Tip: If not mentioned the start date is assumed as now.
SMART Goal: "Increase monthly website new sessions by 25% (1,743 new users) by December 18th, 2019 by producing 2 quality blog articles about productivity and project management with the editorial team every week."
2. Mobile Apps Release Goal
Specific: Release fully-functional mobile apps in the app stores by working extra hours with the developer team.
Measurable: Release fully-function mobile apps by completing the last 3 sprints.
Attainable: If the developer team works harder it’s possible to complete the last 3 sprints on-time.
Relevant: Our users would benefit positively from being able to use Ora on their smartphones. Hence more companies would love to adopt our project management solution.
Time-bound: By the of 2019
SMART Goal: “Release fully-functional mobile apps in the app stores by the end of 2019 by working extra hours with the developer team to complete the last 3 fine-tuning & testing sprints.”
3. Team Productivity Goal
Specific: Deliver more team story points per week by working an extra 45 minutes per day by having lunch in the office and using Scrumban to save time spent in meets.
Measurable: Deliver 25% (121pts) more team story points per week
Achievable: If the team has no problem having lunch in the office, there’s a company to deliver food, and the team implement Scrumban the right way
Relevant: If delivering 25% more per week matches the team’s vision
Time-bound: Dec. 13th, 2019
SMART Goal: “Deliver 25% (121pts) more team story points per week by working an extra 45 minutes per day by having lunch in the office and using Scrumban to save time spent in meetings, and achieve this by Dec. 13th, 2019”
4. Raise Capital Goal
Specific: Raise $1,2M of venture capital by starting a kickstarter.com campaign and all attending local fund-raising events with the co-founding team.
Measurable: Raise $1,2M of venture capital
Attainable: If the product is good enough and there are local fund-raising events
Relevant: If the co-founding team is determined to get capital for their product.
Time-bound: by March 31st, 2020
SMART Goal: “Raise $1,2M of venture capital by starting a Kickstarter.com campaign and all attending local fund-raising events with the co-founding team by March 31st, 2020.”
5. Team Reporting Goal
Specific: Team members to have logged their work-time to specific tasks and subtasks accordingly by using intuitive project management software with easy time-tracking like Ora.
Measurable: Team members to have logged 95% of their work-time (at least 7.6h out of 8h to be visible by tasks and subtasks)
Achievable: If the team members like the software and the process that the management is trying to enforce
Relevant: If the management needs to increase productivity by knowing who is working, who is not and what are the biggest bottlenecks
Time-bound: By Dec 24th, 2019
SMART Goal: “Team members to have logged 95% of their work-time to specific tasks and subtasks accordingly by using intuitive project management software with easy time-tracking like Ora by Dec 24th, 2019.”
6. Passive Income Goal
Specific: Create a personal passive income stream by releasing a freemium productivity widget on Android.
Measurable: Passive income stream of $1,126 per month.
Attainable: If it is possible to develop and put the product into the market for 4 months.
Relevant: If the person needs to have an extra $1,126 per month without working.
Time-bound: Starting the project from Dec 25th, 2019 and achieving the goal by April 24th, 2020.”
SMART Goal: “Create a personal passive income stream generating $1,126 per month by releasing a freemium productivity widget on Android starting the project from Dec 25th, 2019 and achieving the goal by April 24th, 2020.”