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Smart Goals

SMART goals

SMART goals

If you want to be successful then you must achieve your goals.
If you want to be happy then you must achieve your goals.

"Success" can be defined as "the achievement of a worthwhile goal".

"Happiness" can be defined as: "a positive emotional state that you feel when you recognise that you have achieved or are moving towards, a worthwhile goal".

Goal achievement is intrinsic to both "success" and "happiness".

This is a question that should concern us all:

Is there a proper method for setting goals?
Answer: Yes there is a proper method for setting goals.

It is given by the acronym SMART

SMART goals

Each letter represents an attribute:

S= Specific

M= Measured

A= Achievable

R= Realistic

T= Time deadline

Let us look at each one in turn:

S - Specific

Your goals should be specific, not vague.
Whenever possible your goals should be described numerically.
Whenever a numerical description is not possible then your goals should be given a tight verbal or visual definition.

Example of Numerical definition of goals
Imagine I told you that my goal was "to earn more money this year than last year".

That sounds good but it is too vague.
You should ask "How much more, specifically? Give me a figure. Give me a percentage increase".
If you told me that you wanted "to get in good physical shape".
Again, that sounds good but it is too vague.
I should ask "What weight are you now and what is your target weight?"
"What is your waist measurement now, and what is your target waist measurement?"

Notes on the use of numbers
Question: What is the best and easiest way to improve the accuracy of your language?
Answer: Use numbers. The use of numerals is the easiest and most effective way to improve your clarity.

Because using numbers introduces exact quantities, exact times; they carry more specific information. Numbers improve the quantitative nature of your language: they make it less prone to mis-interpretation.

Look at the following seven statements: they are all too vague.

How could you use numbers to improve the clarity?

  1. Can you get those items to me, as soon as possible?
  2. Would you please stop and get some milk on the way home?
  3. Would you put it up a bit higher?
  4. I was hoping you might give me a reduction for cash.
  5. I want to improve my sales.
  6. Do you think you could make that any bigger?
  7. Go along here for a bit, and then turn left at the junction.

Whenever possible, describe things numerically; Ask for, or give, the numbers.

Verbal definition of a goal

Many things can be accurately described using numbers; but many other things cannot be accurately described by numbers.
There are many abstract ideas and principles that are not definable numerically.

For example:

Imagine someone told you that they had set a personal goal to have higher levels of self-esteem. That would indeed be a worthwhile goal but it is not one that is easily reducible to numbers.

You could not ask "How many units of self-esteem do you have now and how much do you want in six months?"
So abstract concepts such as; self-esteem; confidence; courage; intelligence and happiness are so nebulous that they cannot easily be reduced to numbers.

So you must try to reduce these nebulous goals to a word definition.

  1. What do you mean specifically when you say "self-esteem"?
  2. What do you mean specifically when you say "self-confidence"
  3. What do you mean specifically when you say "intelligence?"

It is important to think deeply and write down exactly what you mean by the goal you are setting.

  • The clearer the description, the better it is.
  • The vaguer the description, the worse it is.

If the description of your goal is too vague, then your own brain won't know what you mean and therefore it will not be able to identify information and opportunities that correspond to the goal.

If your description is clear, then your brain will more easily be able to identify information and opportunities that will correspond to your goal. Things will "leap out at you" as being relevant. Every day, you will notice opportunities that relate directly to your goal.

Clarity is power.

Definitions by means of visual image

If you cannot find the words to describe your goal, then find pictures to illustrate it.
If you cannot find the words to describe your dream-house then find pictures and photographs that show it.
If you cannot describe the condition you are seeking find a picture or a photograph of it.

Let your brain see exactly what the target is!

Give your brain a vivid description:

  1. Give it by numbers
  2. Give it by words
  3. Give it by pictures

Give it by numbers, words and pictures!

M= Measured

It is important to make the description of the goal specific so that you can measure your progress.
Once you have set up the goal, you must start making progress towards it. That progress should be measured.
The act of measuring progress is called feedback.

For example
If you want to increase your sales by 50% in six months, then once each week you need to check your progress towards the goal.
At the end of the first week you check the figures.

When you check the figure, you will get the feedback on your performance.

You will find you have:

  1. Made progress
  2. Not made progress
  3. Gone backwards

When setting the goal you should establish a measurable quality that will tell you whether or not you are making progress.
Without measurement you won't know whether you are; on track or off track.
You NEED to know whether you are on track or off track!
So measure your progress.

A = Achievable

Achievable means: "the degree to which your goal is consistent with your skills, knowledge and aptitude".
Or not.
If the goal is not consistent with your skills, knowledge and aptitude, then your goal is not a real goal, it is a delusion!

Example of delusions taking the place of goals

You may have seen X factor contestants on the TV appear on stage and announce, "My goal is to be a pop star! I really, really want it. I want to be a pop star more than anything else in the world".
That may sound good - except when she sings, she sound like an injured cat.
It is clear that this contestant has no musical skill, no technical knowledge, no training and no natural aptitude.
She has never taken a single lesson.
But her goal is still "to be a pop star". Later her angry father comes on stage to tell Simon Cowell "You have no right to kill her dreams!"

They are both deluded!
Proper goals must be consistent with skill, knowledge and aptitude.

R = Realistic

Realistic means that there are constraints that must be taken into account.
Constraints are defined here as "facts that you can't change".
We all live under certain constraints i.e. Facts that you can't change.

Examples of facts you can't change are:

  1. Your age
  2. The fact that there are 24hrs in a day
  3. The laws of the land
  4. The laws of nature

So even if you do have certain skills knowledge and aptitudes, you must still take into account the constraints that are operating.

To put the same point in another way: don't ignore the constraints.
If you are 50 years old you are not going to win the Olympic gold for 2016, 100-metres sprint
If you are 17 years old you are not going to be allowed to fly a Boeing 747.

T = Time deadline

Put a deadline on your goals.

If you don't put a deadline on your goal, then you will tend to procrastinate.

Procrastination is the art of putting off what you could do today, because you are "not in the mood".

If you don't put a deadline on your goal then you will always be tempted to say to yourself:

  1. I will start my diet....... tomorrow
  2. I will do it later, when I'm....... feeling fresh
  3. I won't do it now, .......I'm not in the mood

If you do put a firm deadline of your goal, then you will be more prone to say:

  1. I've only got six weeks to do this - I'd better start now.
  2. I've allowed myself only this weekend to get this done; so I'll do that preparation tonight.
  3. If I am to make the deadline then I must work harder!

Make your deadlines reasonable and precise

  • Reasonable means: "taking into account all the relevant factors and constraints"
  • Precise means: "a definite date in the calendar for subset goals to have been successfully completed".

Goals should be SMART

  • Specific: the goal is described numerically, verbally and pictorially
  • Measured; the feedback on progress ( or lack of progress)
  • Achievable: by reference to skills knowledge and aptitude
  • Realistic: by reference to constraints facts you can't change
  • Time deadline: rational and precise

Set SMART targets

For more information about SMART and Setting Goals visit the Corporate Coach Group website

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