Goal-setting is a very important part of our lives because the whole human endeavor is geared towards setting and achieving goals. Goal-setting provides a sense of direction for every aspect of life. It helps us to stay focused and achieve what we want in life – getting into better shape, live more healthily, build a successful career, venture into business, and meet our financial goals. Without setting goals, you lack focus and you are drifting through life and you will be subjected to a series of haphazard events. Remember, success is about goal setting and the rest is just a conversation!
A lot have been written on the goal setting principles and one of the most popular ones is SMART Goals. Today, I want to share with you an improved or upgraded version of the SMART Goals known as SMARTEST Goal-Setting Principles. The objective of the SMARTEST Goal-Setting Principles to help you to achieve absolute clarity on the goals you set, whether is for personal, team, department or for your organization.
Now, let’s take a closer look on SMARTEST, an acronym that stand for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, Timely, Ecological, Signed, Thorough.
How clear are your goals? Are your goals specific enough that a 5-year old child also understand? What exactly do you want to achieve? The clearer your goals are, the higher chances you will achieve them. When I run sales-related training, I always heard people said “I want to make more money” or “I want to achieve financial freedom” or “I want to improve my lifestyles” or “I want to be healthier” or “I want to be a Millionaire.” All these goals are not achievable because they are vague and not specific enough. To set a clear and specific goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- What specifically do I want to achieve?
- What outcomes do I want?
- How do I know I have achieved the goal?
- Where, when, how, and with whom do I want to achieve my goal?
A goal that fulfill this principle means that at all times you know where you are in terms of reaching your goal. Measurable goals mean that you will be able to answer the question of “What will you see, hear, feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You’ll need concrete evidence. To set a measurable goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- What will I see, hear, and feel when I achieve my goal?
- Where are you now in terms of reaching your goal?
- What is my next milestone?
- How will you know when you have it?
- What are some concrete evidences to suggest that I have achieved it?
The goals you set must be tangible and actionable. To ensure your goals are actionable, it’s important to break down your goals into smaller steps or sub-goals. This will enable more focus and help prevent pushing the goals to the side due to lack of clarity. To set an actionable goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my next baby step?
- What action can I take to move one step closer to my goals?
- What needs to change in order to move forward?
- What can I do differently to move up one point higher on the scale?
- What do I need to do more and better to achieve a positive result?
To increase the chances of achieving your goals, your goals must be achievable and realistic. A lot of people set themselves up for failure as they set lofty goals which are unrealistic. This is one of the most common mistakes that people make when they set goals. Setting unrealistic goals may destroy your confidence and generate negative emotions. Setting realistic goal doesn’t mean you have to set an easy goal, but rather the goals must be challenging yet achievable. To set a realistic goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my goals attainable?
- How can I differentiate between an ambitious goal and an unrealistic one?
- Realistically, what can you envision?
- Where do you see yourself in that picture?
- If you could change anything to make your goal realistic, what would it be?
- Is this goal realistic enough to inspire you to take action?
We heard this too often, “Time is money” and it’s true that the goals you set must be time-bound, otherwise you are wasting your time and effort. Thus, make sure you set deadlines, for yourself and your team, and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, as sometimes you may need to adjust the dateline accordingly due to changing conditions. With a targeted dateline, it motivates us to take action and move forward. To set a timely goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- When do I want to achieve my goals?
- How do I develop a clearly define timeline to achieve the goals?
- What is the realistic time frame to achieve the goals?
- How can I set a reasonable dateline that can keep the morale high?
- How do I set a dateline that creates urgency?
Ecological is such a big word, but if you are serious in achieving your goals it’s critical for us to understand the need to set goals that serve us well holistically. Ecology means how life interacts with other living things and their environment in a seamless way. Simply put, the goals you set must serve you well in both your personal life and business life, as well as in the entire ecosystem that you operate in. To set an ecological goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- Are your goals ecological?
- For what purpose do you want this?
- What will you gain or lose if you have it?
- What will happen if you get it?
- What will happen if you don’t get it?
A lot of people are lazy in setting goals because they said “I know what I want to achieve, they are already in my head.” Having an idea in our mind on what we want to achieve is not good enough because the power of goals lies on whether we have our goals written down and make them concrete. To take this one step further, if you can translate your goals into a drawing and make it compelling and attractive, it would make it easier for you to visualize your goals and to make them become reality. To ensure you have your goals written down and signed on it, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- How do I make my goals become so compelling & attractive?
- How motivated & committed am I to achieve the goals?
- What are the benefits to achieve the goals?
- How would my life change as a result of achieving the goals?
- What will this outcome get for you or allow you to do?
An achievable goal requires a well-thought-out plan with strategy and execution plans in place. You must have a comprehensive plan to increase your chances of achieving your goals. The plans must include more than one way to get to the outcomes. A good plan will give you more choices to reach your destination. If plan A doesn’t work, what would be your plan B? You must be ready to face the unexpected and be able to provide alternative solution to overcome any challenges you face. Like the old saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” To set a thorough goal, you could ask yourself the following questions:
- How do you measure your progress?
- What is the evidence procedure that tells you are on the right track?
- What resources are needed to achieve your goals?
- What do you have now, and what else do you need to attain your outcome?
- Who can give you extra help to make it easier for you?
- Who will do what and by when?