Goal setting is a habit we engage in everyday that can be used to maximize success. Goals help us achieve success, but how? First off, setting goals helps to keep people on track. Goals keep us fixated on the task at hand by keeping energy and attention focused on goal-relevant tasks and directed away from goal-irrelevant tasks. In addition to keeping people focused and driven, goals have the added benefit of making large-scale and long-term plans more tangible, as seeing all the little pieces can make a complex objective seem more realistic and manageable. Setting goals can have a tremendously positive impact both on personal and professional success.
How to Set Goals: S.M.A.R.T
S.M.A.R.T Goals are attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives Theory. Standing for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound, S.M.A.R.T is an acronym designed to help people set reasonable goals and achieve them.
SPECIFIC: When your goals are specific, with a clear objective, it will be easier to focus your efforts on achieving your goal. Answering the five “W” questions (Who? What? When? Where? and Why?) can help you develop a specific and well-defined goal by identifying what the primary objective is and the resources at your disposal. With specific goals, you can allocate your time and labor more efficiently.
MEASURABLE: Having goals that are measurable is another way to set reasonable goals. With measurable goals, you will be able to track your progress and identify what accomplishing the goal will look like. This can be useful in goal setting because it will keep you motivated when you see you’ve been making progress.
ACHIEVABLE: Goals are generally designed to push people outside of their comfort zones, test their capabilities and discover potential that was previously unknown. However, that doesn’t mean that goals need to be lofty or overreaching, as they can then overwhelm you. When creating an achievable goal, think about your capabilities, and how realistically you can stretch them in order to challenge yourself.
RELEVANT: Another important factor of smart goals is how relevant the goal is, both to your long and short-term plans, as well as to any other goals that you have set. Sometimes goals that are made may no longer be relevant as situations change; for example, if earning a masters degree is your goal, you must consider whether it is a financially viable option, or perhaps, you need to wait a year or two. It is important to constantly evaluate and revisit goals to decide if they are relevant.
TIME BOUND: The last factor of smart goals is to make them time-bound. While goals are great motivation tools, nothing gets done without a deadline, as there is no sense of urgency. In order to really make sure your goals are designed to improve you, set deadlines to your tasks. This will not only give you a sense of urgency, but will also provide a finish line to race towards. Setting deadlines is also a way to prioritize your goals.
These are just one of several strategies designed to help people make more efficient goals that can lead to success. In fact, although the path to success is lined with help- from friends and mentors and guides, setting goals is a way for you to take success into your hands. Put these tips into action to help achieve your plans.