Have you ever felt that you're not getting anywhere no matter how hard you work? Do you struggle to try getting more done while accomplishing very little? Or perhaps you do not have much chance of achieving your goals in the coming years. Setting SMART goals can help focus your efforts and increase your chances of achieving what you want. Let's explore what SMART goals are and how you can use them to get where you want to be. 

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What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Each SMART goal should have these characteristics to ensure you can achieve them. The SMART goals framework incorporates all these criteria to help guide goal setting. 

SMART goals should be:

  • Specific - Simple, well-defined, and unambiguous. This is about what exactly you need to accomplish. 
  • Measurable – With specific criteria to measure your progress towards achieving the goal. Address questions like how much, how many, and how to know when it's accomplished?
  • Achievable – Your goal should stretch your abilities but remain attainable.
  • Realistic – Reasonable, practical, and relevant. Ensure that the goal matters to you and it supports pertinent other goals. 
  • Timely – With a clearly defined timeline, including the start date and target date

You should define the above parameters in relation to the specific goals you're targeting so that you can attain the SMART objectives within a particular time frame. 

How SMART Goals Improve Productivity 

Goals are a part of every aspect of life and work. They give you a sense of direction, motivation, focus, and targets to aim for. Setting clear and achievable goals can make you significantly more productive. 

Suppose you want to improve your productivity significantly. In that case, your goal setting should be systematic, specific, and based on a frequently referenced tool that can keep you on track and prevent you from losing sight of your objectives.

That's what the SMART Goals framework does for you – it propels you towards your goals and transforms you into a high achiever. It guides you through setting clearly defined goals with little room for ambiguity or guesswork.

It helps you define specific requirements for a project, be it a house remodeling or a research project for your next course. Specific goals have a significantly higher chance of being achieved. 

A SMART goal is measurable, so you can measure your progress at any stage or know if you're on the right track to attain your goal.

SMART goals are achievable. Therefore, they enable you to see goals objectively and realistically. There should not be any element of subjectivity while evaluating the accomplishment of goals. The framework can be used to determine whether you've achieved your end goals accurately. 

SMART goals are realistic and allow users to set essential parameters right at the onset, making the goals a concrete, tangible task that can be easily accomplished instead of an abstract concept. 

A SMART goal must be time-bound, meaning users will have a sense of urgency and motivation to accomplish the task within the finish date. 

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How to Set SMART Goals

Create Specific Goals 

Specific goals are clear and tell you exactly what you’re after. To make a goal specific, consider answering the five W questions:

  • Who is involved in the goal?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Where do you want to achieve the goal?
  • When do you want to achieve the goal?
  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?

Make Sure Your Goals Are Measurable

Without being able to measure the success of your goals, you are almost shooting in the dark. You won’t know for sure if you have, in fact, achieved what you set out to achieve. To make your goal measurable, ask yourself questions like how many/much, how you would know if you've reached your goal, and what would indicate progress. 

Determine if the Goal Is Achievable 

Ask yourself if you have the resources and capabilities to accomplish the goal. If not, what is lacking? This is key to understanding that it’s actually possible to attain a goal even if it stretches your capabilities. 

Keep It Real 

Your goals should be realistic and reachable with available time and resources. Ask yourself the following questions to know if they are practical for you:

Are you truly committed to the goal? 

Is it worth the time and effort?

Is this relevant to my other needs and efforts?

Set a Timeline for Your Goals

Time-bound goals are concrete and stay front and center of your attention despite everyday tasks. This increases the likelihood of you working toward it consistently rather than letting it fall on the wayside after a while. That’s why you must have a tentative timeframe by which you can realistically achieve a goal, be it six weeks, six months, or a year.  

Why Are SMART Goals an Excellent Productivity Method?

As you can tell, SMART goals are a way more specific and effective way to achieve something. 

SMART goals work because:

  • They are not vague 
  • They help you stay focused on what is important
  • They keep your expectations realistic
  • They push to work towards achievable targets
  • They tell you how close or far you are from achieving a goal

Dos and Don'ts of SMART Goal Writing

Before you begin SMART goal writing, you should know how to do it right and what pitfalls to avoid. Here’s a brief checklist of things to do and not do.

Do These:

  • Use active words that can inspire you to work towards achieving the goal.
  • Give it meaning so that the writing excites the reader — it could be you or someone else like a team member or client. 
  • The goals should be both realistic and challenging. It should be attainable, of course, but still require stretching your capabilities to some extent. 
  • Businesses should use SMART goals to scale the company. Use the approach to define where you want to go and create directions to that path. 
  • Get as specific as you can when writing SMART goals. The more detailed the goal, the stronger you aspire to achieve it. 

Don’t Do These:

  • Don't be vague at outlining SMART goals as it might lose its purpose over a period of time.
  • Don’t be too ambitious while setting your goals.
  • Don't be hesitant to set the deadline for your SMART goal out of fear about if there's not enough time or if you cannot meet your aspiration. Remember, it's okay to fail. 
  • Don't use the word 'want' in your SMART goals list. Your goal is not a wish; it's a clear intention you aim to attain. 'Want' doesn't work for the purpose of goal setting. 
  • Don't set an all-inclusive goal because such goals are hard to measure and not practical. Smaller goals are more likely to drive to successful larger goals. 

Examples of SMART Goals

Let's take an example of someone trying to improve the landing page performance of their website. This is how they would set SMART goals:

Specific – I aim for our landing pages to generate more leads by changing from one-column to two-column form.  

Measurable – I aim for a 30% rise in lead generation from the last quarter.

Attainable – On A/B testing our traditional one-column form against a two-column form on our highest traffic landing pages, we found that the conversion rate for two-column forms is 27% higher than one-column forms. 

Relevant – This will help us generate more content leads and sales can close more customers.

Time-bound – We should be able to see the result by the end of six months from now. 

Therefore, the SMART goal that was set can be summed up as below:

Six months from today, our landing pages will show a 30% rise in lead generation by switching the forms from one-column to two-columns. 

Now that you have learned about SMART goals, how to set them correctly, and how to get the most of this exercise, we hope you’ll use this technique to carve a success path for yourself, be it in your business or personal and professional life. 

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Become More Productivity by Upskilling

Just like SMART goals can help you improve your productivity, it is also important to keep to upskill to keep yourself productive in your career. 

For example, check out some of our amazing Lean Six Sigma Expert Master's Program that can help you learn the complete ins and outs of quality management and even help you earn Six Sigma green and black belts accredited by IASSC®!

Get complete hands-on experience with 13 Projects, 12 Simulation exams, 18 Case Studies & 114 PDUs all combined in this program. You’ll also get to learn with real-world case studies authored by Harvard Business Publishing professors.

So, start creating some SMART goals for your career today!

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