Career Development

How To Write A SMART Goal (And How They Work)

February 22, 2021

Whenever you create a goal, it's important to make an achievable one. As you make your next goal, consider creating a SMART goal instead. Not only will it be more attainable, but it'll also keep you focused on your aspirations, help you stay on track, make sure the goal is relevant to your other goals and more. In this article, we define what a SMART goal is and provide you with the steps to take in creating your own.

Related: 10 Tips for Being More Goal-Oriented at Work

What is a SMART goal?

A SMART goal refers to a person's aim to achieve their desired result using a particular set of criteria. This framework will help you write goals that are more impactful and attainable. SMART stands for the following terms:

  • Specific: What do you want to be accomplished and what will you do to achieve this goal? This involves being specific with every part of your SMART goal.

  • Measurable: What data will be used for goal measuring? Making your goal measurable will help you track your progress.

  • Achievable: Is achieving this goal possible? Making your goal attainable ensures its success.

  • Relevant: Why is this goal important? Making sure your goal is relevant ensures it relates to your other broad or rather, ultimate goals.

  • Time-bound: When does the goal need to be completed? This takes into account the time period that this goal needs to be achieved.

Having a SMART goal means using each of these terms to create a particular goal. When you create goals without keeping these criteria in mind, there's a greater chance of not meeting these aspirations.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

How to write a SMART goal

Here are the steps to follow when writing a SMART goal:

  1. Consider the type of goal.
  2. Make it specific.
  3. Make it measurable.
  4. Make it achievable.
  5. Make it relevant.
  6. Make it time-bound.

1. Consider the type of goal

Before you start writing your goal, it's important to consider the type of goal you're wanting to attain. Consider whether you want to make something, improve something, save something, reduce something or anything else of a similar nature. This will help narrow down what it is exactly that you're hoping to achieve.

2. Make it specific

Following the guidelines of a SMART goal, start by making your goal specific. Ask yourself who will be involved in order to achieve the goal, what you want to accomplish, what requirements will need to be met before you start toward your goal, why you want to achieve this goal and more. If it's applicable, consider a relevant location associated with your goal. Though the timeframe will be explained in a later step, it's a good idea to start thinking of a goal completion date, as well.

3. Make it measurable

Next, consider how you'll determine whether or not the goal was met. This step will help you measure your progress and ultimately ascertain how you will define success in relation to this goal. Some forms of measurement you could potentially use include customer satisfaction surveys or quality reports.

4. Make it achievable

Your SMART goal should also be achievable. This means it'll need to be attainable. For some of your goals to be attainable, you might need to learn new skills or consider its overall timeline. Consider the tools or skills you'll need for your goal, whether or not you have them and what it'll take to attain them.

5. Make it relevant

When you write a SMART goal, it's important that it's relevant to a larger, overarching goal. This ensures it wasn't wasted time. For example, if you're trying to increase marketing efforts, you should make sure this is in alignment with others in your department and the company's goals overall.

6. Make it time-bound

Lastly, make sure your goal is time-bound. In other words, you should be mindful of the time you'll need to achieve it by. Consider a date and determine whether or not you think the goal will be able to be accomplished by then. It can be helpful to pinpoint certain tasks that you'll want to achieve at certain points within your timeline.

Related: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

Advantages

SMART goals present various advantages. For starters, they're not vague. Whereas most goals people make aren't very descriptive, SMART goals are specific, which ultimately helps increase their odds of being achieved. Also, SMART goals incorporate your plans. This helps you achieve your goal since you'll already know the next steps to take. Since SMART goals require some form of measurement, they also provide you with the opportunity to track your progress. If you miss a small deadline within your overall goal deadline, you'll not only know, but you'll also have time to get back on track.

Disadvantages

Though SMART goals are very advantageous, they also pose some disadvantages. For example, because your goal will be well-planned out, it could lead you to become obsessed with completing your goal by a certain deadline. Also, it could make you crave more achievements in the future and could potentially set you up for a continuous cycle of wanting to achieve goal after goal. For some, SMART goal making could be overly ambitious.

Examples

Here are two examples of SMART goals:

Example 1

Let's say you want to find a new job in the near future. You've determined that your ultimate SMART goal is to gain new employment at a marketing agency within the next three months to advance in your career. You've determined this using the following SMART goal criteria:

  • Specific: You love your current marketing job but it lacks the opportunity for growth. You want to find a new job in the city within the next three months because you believe it will be a wise career choice.

  • Measurable: In order to ensure you're following through with your goal, you will complete five job applications per week leading up to your goal deadline.

  • Achievable: In order to achieve this goal, you'll need a new online portfolio. This will require you to upload new portfolio materials and give your website a revamp. You'll do this as soon as possible and set a goal timeline a few months in advance to ensure it's attainable.

  • Relevant: Since you value professional growth and want to become a marketing manager by 2022, this SMART goal is highly relevant to your career.

  • Time-bound: To achieve this goal, you'll need to meet your set deadline of three months.

Example 2

Let's say you want to hire 10 new reporters to your newspaper by the end of the year to increase overall news coverage. Consider the following criteria for this SMART goal:

  • Specific: You want to hire 10 new reporters to your newspaper company by the end of the year in order to supplement news coverage.

  • Measurable: You plan on measuring your progress by hiring at least 1-2 new employees each month to achieve this goal by the deadline.

  • Achievable: You ensure this goal is achievable by lowering your other newspaper costs to afford new employee salaries. Also, you set a completion date of 12 months in advance to ensure you meet this goal at a steady pace.

  • Relevant: This goal is relevant because many editors have expressed concern that they have more stories than they're able to assign to the current number of reporters. Also, you and other executive leaders are hoping to expand your audience by bringing in reporters with experience in topics not yet reported on in your newspaper.

  • Time-bound: You decide that you're going to give yourself until the end of the year to complete this goal.

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