Most of you must have read or heard of this quote:
A goal without a plan is just a dream.
But there’s also another saying:
An abstract goal cannot be achieved even with the best plan.
Abstract goals are goals without any description or base. These are just empty slogans that can’t bring satisfactory results. For example, we’ll do something to enhance our turnover is an abstract goal. It isn’t specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Precisely, this goal isn’t S.M.A.R.T.
What Are SMART Goals?
A SMART goal is a well-formulated goal which is specific (S), measurable (M), achievable (A), relevant (R), and time-bound (T).
Precisely, S.M.A.R.T. goal gives a specific, realistic, and measurable direction to what you want to achieve, and it is highly likely that it can be completed successfully within the specified time period.
Let’s break the acronym for better understanding:
S in SMART goals stands for specific. It is the who, what, why, and how of the SMART model.
Example: By January 1, 2019, the HR team will implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees, which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria to make the process more transparent. Who: ‘The HR team’. What: ‘implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees’ How: ‘which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria’ Why: ‘to make the process more transparent’
M in SMART goals stands for measurable. It defines the measurable evidence that proves the progress you’re making.
Measurability of the goal is of utmost importance as it provides you with the tangible evidence that the goal is obtainable (or not) and whether you’ve accomplished the goal or at least came close to accomplishing it.
Example: By January 1, 2019, the HR team will implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees, which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria to make the process more transparent. Here the goal can be measured based on whether or not the new method is operational by January 1st.
A in SMART goals stands for achievable. It makes sure that the goal can be accomplished within a certain timeframe.
The goal should be challenging but defined well enough so you can achieve it. It should be defined considering yours’s and your team’s appropriate knowledge, skills, and abilities. The goal should be designed in a way to inspire motivation, not discouragement. Unattainable goals prevent you even from trying. Plan what you want to achieve in steps and establish a timeframe that allows you to carry out those steps. This helps you keep yourself interested in what you want to achieve.
Example: By January 1, 2019, the HR team will implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees, which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria to make the process more transparent. This goal is set considering the skillset and the ability of the human resource team. The goal focuses on overcoming the challenge of non-transparency of the performance appraisal method, which could be a large enough challenge for you and your team to remain interested in and committed to accomplishing it.
R in SMART goals stands for realistic and relevant. A realistic goal takes into account the practical scenario and the direction where the organization is heading to. A SMART goal considers the availability of resources, knowledge, and time and aligns with the overall business objective. It also considers whether the goal is relevant to the target audience or not.
Example: By January 1, 2019, the HR team will implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees, which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria to make the process more transparent. This SMART goal considers the right team for the job, gives them clear indications, and also focuses on the long-term business objectives of the organisation (better appraisals lead to better performance).
T in SMART goals stands for time-bound. It sets a realistic and ambitious yet achievable end date for task prioritization and motivation.
Goals should be linked to a timeframe. This creates a sense of urgency and creates tension between the current reality and the vision.
Example: By January 1, 2019, the HR team will implement a new performance appraisal method for XYZ Co. employees, which uses clearly defined evaluation criteria to make the process more transparent. Here January 1 acts as the deadline which creates a sense of urgency among the team members.
How To Write A SMART Goal
When it comes to writing SMART Goals, be ready to question your every idea. Even though these goals include all the relevant information, these should be easy to read and understand.
Here’s a SMART goals template and worksheet to help you get started.
SMART Goal Example
Let’s explain how to write a SMART goal using this example: I want to build an educational website for entrepreneurs.
Specific: There aren’t many websites which teach new entrepreneurs the basics of startups and the startup ecosystem. I’ll create and launch a website next month designed specially to cater to new entrepreneurs by teaching them the basics of startups, marketing, and branding. I’ll provide the information for free and earn revenue using advertisements.
Measurable: Seeing the current search trends, I believe the website should have around 100,000 hits per month by the end of this fiscal year.
Achievable: The tech team will be ready with the website in another 2 weeks. We’ll set some marketing milestones to increase the traction and benefit on word of mouth marketing. The content team of the website will research and write on disruptive business models, business plans, and basic startup terms and will send us 3 articles every day in the first month and 4 articles every day after the website has launched. All this is achievable yet challenging for the team.
Relevant: Most startups fail because of lack of knowledge of when, what, and how to start up. This website will be relevant to new entrepreneurs as they’ll get free quality information which will include well-researched articles about various business models and business tactics.
Time-Bound: To receive at least 100,000 monthly hits by the end of this fiscal year, the website should be launched within 4 weeks from now.
S.M.A.R.T goal: Most startups fail due to lack of knowledge on how to run a startup. We’ll create and launch a free (ad-based) website within 4 weeks from now, designed to provide well-researched business models and business tactics to entrepreneurs.
Go On, Tell Us What You Think!
Did we miss something? Come on! Tell us what you think about our article on SMART Goals in the comments section.
A startup consultant, dreamer, traveller, and philomath. Aashish has worked with over a 100 startups and successfully helped them ideate, raise money, and succeed. When not working, he can be found hiking, camping, and stargazing.