Common blindspots and how to overcome them: Only external goals need to be SMART
This article is part of an Abilitise series on common blindspots people face in the workplace and in life and how to address them.
With the new year approaching, it may be a good time to reflect on your prior year, and think about what you want to achieve going forward. Rather than only broadly envisaging goals, objectives and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), ensure you also make them SMART to support you achieving them.
I hear from many clients that they have only set SMART goals for external business purposes. For example, ‘we need to make X amount of money by this time,’ or ‘we need to get X amount of contracts signed within this period.’ Whilst this is important, some people neglect to consider the SMART principle for internal business goals as well as for personal goals, possibly limiting their chances for success.
What does SMART stand for?
SMART is an acronym which provides criteria for goals, objectives and KPIs. See Figure 1.
Alongside external business goals, the SMART principles should also be considered when setting internal business and personal goals.
Internal business goals may relate to:
Developing a framework
Gaining further education
Organising your work
Self-improvement in your role
Writing a strategy paper
For example, if I had the internal business goal to improve efficiency, I would utilise the SMART principle. See Figure 2 for an example of focusing on improving a specific business process.
Personal goals may relate to:
For example, if I had a personal goal to do more sport, I would also ensure to use the SMART principle for that. See Figure 3 for an example through focusing on running.
What do SMART goals help with?
SMART goals help you to hold yourself accountable and support you to strive towards achieving the goal as they break the goal down into achievable, relevant and practical aspects which you can measure. If you use the SMART principle, you are more likely to achieve your goals compared to if you keep the goal high level, visionary. To help you utilise the SMART principle, as well as follow through with the implementation, you could also consider asking for the support of an accountability partner, such as a coach, a mentor, a colleague or a friend.
Regularly reviewing and reflecting on your SMART goals ensures you are making progress, and you can make any necessary adjustments needed to stay on track towards your set goal.
What are the consequences of not setting SMART goals?
Many clients have told me that they did not even consider using the SMART principle when setting internal business and personal goals, demonstrating a blind spot in this regard.
Here are the possible consequences of not setting SMART goals:
SPECIFIC: If you are not specific concerning a goal, then what you wish to achieve may seem unclear, confusing, or too overwhelming, not practical enough for implementation.
MEASURABLE: If your goal is not measurable, then it may be difficult for you to track whether you are heading in the right direction towards your desired outcome, whether any adjustments to your approach are required and also, whether you have already achieved your goal and it is time for celebration.
ACHIEVABLE: If you do not set an achievable goal, then you set yourself up to fail, demotivating yourself.
RELEVANT: If your goal is not relevant, then it may not help you reach what you set out to achieve.
TIME-BOUND: If you do not set a goal which is time-bound, then it will be harder for you to manage your accountability and strive towards specific timings concerning your goal achievement.
How should I start setting and acting on SMART goals?
To start setting SMART goals, you should envisage and reflect about what you want to do, and how you can get there:
Step 1: REFLECT
Reflect on what you want to achieve and what goals you want to set.
Step 2: BREAK IT DOWN
Break down a larger goal into smaller bite size pieces through considering specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound aspects of your goal. By taking it one step at a time and chunking it down, you won’t feel as overwhelmed by the overarching goal.
Step 3: IMPLEMENT
Now that your SMART goal is set, implement it, track it in line with its SMART elements and ensure to celebrate your wins! This will create a positive momentum, it will help you feel motivated to keep going and will drive you forward towards your goal achievement.
With the new year approaching, there’s no better time to start than now! Make time for reflection over the next few weeks and begin to break down any of your goals utilising the SMART principle in the new year.
Do you need help setting SMART goals for yourself? In need of an accountability partner to provide support to help you reach your goals? Reach out to Abilitise today!