The S.M.A.R.T goals concept has been around for decades. Sadly I was in my 40’s before I heard of this great goal setting model. I’ve found the S.M.A.R.T. metaphor to be incredibly powerful when setting goals for myself as well as coaching others in through goal setting exercises.
S = specific
M = measurable
A = attainable
R = relevant
T = time specific
Let’s use weight loss as a topic to explain SMART. I want to lose some weight is not specific. I want to lose 10 pounds is specific.
Is it measureable? Sure. What do you weigh today? You’ve reached the goal when you’ve lost 10 pounds and it’s quite easy to measure as long as you have a scale. Saying “I want to lose enough weight so that my butt doesn’t look big in these jeans’ is harder to measure. Partly because most people will lie to you. :) It’s important for many reasons to quantify success when we’re talking about goals. Success in achieve goals propels you towards more success. Force yourself to come up with a way to quantify and know when the goal has been reached.
Is the goal attainable? Hmm. Losing 10 pounds sounds attainable. But what if the person wanted to lose that amount in day? Not likely unless they don’t mind losing a limb. What if the goal depends on someone else? It’s common to attempt goals where success or failure is largely dependent on others. That’s a very important consideration. Setting goals that can’t be reached is demoralizing and leads to a pattern of missing your goals. On the other hand setting goals that are too attainable and easy won’t have much impact on your life. Want to lose a micro ounce? Just burp. That’s too simple.
Is the goal relevant? This is an interesting concept. Do you care about the goal? Let’s stick with the 10 pounds. You’re more likely to achieve the goal if you care about it on a personal level. How does the goal impact you? Do you care about it? Will you own it? Are you invested in achieving the goal? We are much more likely to achieve a goal that we have set for ourselves and that we own, rather than a goal that is forced on us even if that person has management responsibility over us. That’s an interesting tangent for managers to consider. How can you make goals important to you and the organization important and relevant to your team?
Is the goal time specific? I want to lose 10 pounds is not time specific. I want to lose 10 pounds in two months is time specific.
Does the SMART model work? It sure does. It’s not the only technique for thinking about goals. However, in the two years I’ve been setting SMART goals I’ve become a believer. Give this goal setting technique a try and let me know what you think.
P.S. My next blog post will camp out on the S from S.M.A.R.T. Surprisingly, SMART goal setting can be a powerful tool for vision casting and strategic thinking if you think about the S is in right way. More on that coming up soon!