Setting SMART Goals
Updated: Mar 12
Goals are a cornerstone of effective time management; they provide us with the direction needed to focus on the tasks most essential for achieving our long-term aspirations. But not all goals were created equal; those that are too vague, ambitious or abstract prove extremely difficult to realise and ultimately fuel disappointment. To avoid this, when beginning a program at The Roll, our client's start the coaching process with an introduction to setting SMART goals.
What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time Framed. The elements of the SMART framework work together to create a goal that is trackable and concise.
1. Specific. The more precise and detailed you are with what you want to achieve, the easier it will be to break your goal down into actionable steps. The desired outcome should be so clearly defined that even a stranger could read it and interpret it in the same way.
Example "To make the next progression in my career, I will become the Head of Business Development at a tech startup within 6 months."
Your goal should have relevant metrics that indicate you're progressing towards archiving it. Including tangible milestones at each stage of the process provides small, motivating wins that remind you of the fruits of your labour; they also make it easier to hold yourself accountable for sticking to the plan. When using milestones, you can also identify what parts of the process you are stalling in, allowing for corrective action to be taken faster than it otherwise would.
Example "I will identify ten high potential startups to focus my attention on and research the key people working at them."
Is what you're setting out to do realistic given your time frame? SMART goals focus on things that are within your current skill set and resource constraints. Ideally, they are also achievable regardless of the will of others.
When formulating the goal, ask yourself, "Do I have the skills, education or credentials needed to achieve this" or "Has someone similar to me successfully achieved this before". These questions are not meant to be restrictive but rather to identify additional resources and skills that must be obtained before you can realise your larger goal.
Example "To improve my chances of getting an interview this week, I will update my resume and connect with three people in my network currently working in the tech industry."
When setting goals for yourself, consider whether or not they are relevant to your long-term aspirations. Ask yourself why the goal is important to you, how the actions for achieving it align with your personal values and what specific aspects of the final outcome you find appealing.
Thinking through these aspects of your goal enables you to differentiate between fleeting desires, such as the need for external validation and the objectives that will truly change your life for the better.
Example: "To make the next progression in my career and continue my professional development, I will become the Head of Business Development at a tech startup within 6 months."
Without a defined timeframe, it can be difficult to feel
the sense of urgency needed to spur action. Setting a time frame for achieving your goals will help clarify the different stages of the process and encourage you to be more realistic about the scope of the task ahead.
Having an end date also makes it obvious when a goal hasn't been reached - a regular occurrence when setting stretch goals. When this happens, its important is that you take
a step back and analyse why you didn't succeed - was it external factors such
as unexpected setbacks that caused you to fail, or rather because of your
actions or inaction.
Example: "To make the next progression in my career,
I will become the Head of Business Development at a tech startup within
The SMART goal framework is an effective way for you to break down your greatest aspirations into actionable steps, identify the resources necessary to get there and articulate the milestones that show you're on the way.
To start setting more effective goals and taking your career, personal fitness or relationships to the next level, download our free SMART Goals Checklist.
Alternatively, if you're in a leadership position and are curious about how you can better motivate your team, check out Motivating your Team Through Friendly Competition.