Whether you are setting goals for your job or your personal life, learning how to set them properly is the key to success. Poorly defined goals lead to failure, whereas properly defined goals can lead to success. SMART is an acronym that can help you create and reach your goals, making sure they are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Creating goals that follow these terms could set you up for success in a host of areas in your life.
A goal worth attaining should be specific. Think about the world of online marketing for a moment. Saying your goal is to “create a blog that brings in income” is not specific because it leaves too many questions unanswered. Instead, set a goal to create a blog that will draw 1,000 readers a day and bring in $100 a week in ad revenue.
A goal that can’t be measured can’t be reached; without a clearly defined endpoint, it’s difficult to know when you’ve actually completed your goal. In the earlier example, saying you will “create a blog that brings in income” is not measurable. How much money is defined as income? It doesn’t take many days in the online marketing world to understand that sometimes money comes in a few cents at a time. Would a 5-cent payment be defined as income in your mind?
Before you set a goal, do some research in your field to see what is attainable. A student studying for a bachelor’s degree may set a goal of completing it in two semesters. While this would be nice, it is not something a student can actually attain. A bachelor’s degree, even in an accelerated or online program, takes longer than two semesters from start to finish. Identifying attainable timelines in which to meet your goal will allow you the appropriate amount of time to complete the tasks outlined.
No matter what your goals are, you’ll need to be realistic. Part of the job of a goal is to help you spur yourself toward success, but if a goal is too lofty, it could diminish your enthusiasm and energy. However, “realistic” is not a synonym for “easy.” Your goal should push you to achieve more than you have before, but it should also be reasonable and practical.
Goals provide the most motivation when they can be reached in a short, measurable period of time. This is often seen in the education sector. A student may have a goal to attain a degree by a projected graduation date, and he will work hard for several semesters to achieve that goal. In online marketing, your goal may be to reach a certain income or traffic milestone at the end of a month of hardcore marketing efforts. The sooner you can reach a milestone, the sooner you can feel that sense of satisfaction that comes from successfully completing a SMART goal.
Using the SMART method to set, work toward, and meet your goals can give you the structure and guidance you need to make positive changes in your life. There’s more than one way to fulfill your aspirations—but building a plan is the first step to success.