Apply SMART Criteria to General Goals

by ryan on December 13, 2017




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What Do You Get When You Apply SMART Criteria to General Goals? Smarter Goals!

Sometimes writing goals with smart criteria sounds good in theory but feels hard to picture in action.

This page collects several examples of smart goals created from goals that started out being too general. Use the examples as models to simplify your own efforts at writing smart goals.

Remember that the SMART criteria are as follows:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-limited.

They call on you to add details, the 5Ws and 1 H (who, what, why, when, where and how)to general statements to create smarter goals.

Original Goal:

I want to make more money.

Problem:

This very general goal is a perfectly understandable statement . Lots of people want to make more money. But it lacks specifics. How much more money do you want to make? Do you need to achieve the new income immediately, are you talking about someday, or is your target date something in between? What about the nature of your job — are your plans to change positions, companies or careers, or stay where you are but get paid more?

Restatement as a SMART Goal:

By this time next year I would like to have increased my household income by 25% by either finding a new position in my company or elsewhere or by adding a second, part time job, if necessary.

Notice:

The new version contains the details the original goal lacked. Our worker knows

how much more money she wants to make
her self-imposed deadline for reaching the new income level
and the kinds of things she is willing to do (change jobs, change companies, or get a second job,) in order to make it happen.
Creating an action plan for making it happen won’t be any more complicated than carrying out the details in the improved goal statement.
Let’s look at another example. Again, assume the person who is getting a SMART goal makeover started with the same original goal as in our first example: “I want to make more money.”

All of the same problems we noticed the first time apply here. Applying smart criteria means the original goal can be restated as this SMART goal.

Restatement as a SMART Goal:

I want to double my income within 5 years by changing professions from medical secretary to nurse.

Notice:

Once again, this restated smart goal offers crucial detail that will organize our career changer’s efforts going forward. She now knows:

How much more money she wants to make
How she will do that – change careers from medical secretary to nurse.
By when – within the next five years.
Making this happen means looking at how one goes about becoming a nurse. Even though the desired change is huge – a whole new career – the new SMART goal provides clear direction on the next steps to take.

Smart criteria are equally useful in making job related goals more powerful. Here’s just one example.

Original Goal:

I want to impress my boss so I get a good review.

Problem:

Again the problem is the lack of details. When do you want to impress your boss? Why do you want to impress him? Are you involved with something that could be a vehicle for looking like a star or will you need to obtain a good project first?

Restatement as a SMART Goal:

I’m planning to really impress my boss this quarter by putting in whatever time and effort is necessary to deliver the hoped for results, or better, on the new communications project.

Notice:

Once again the new goal makes execution easy because its details contain so much information. Our employee knows that in the next three months he will:

work harder
work longer
or both
to reach or exceed the goals listed on his project.

Applying smart criteria will also significantly enhance purely personal or self-improvement goals. In this example consider an experienced runner who enjoys competing in races.

Original Goal:

I want to increase my time on the half-marathon.

Problem:

Does this goal inform future actions? In a sense it does because it tells what to do – run faster. Yet at the same time it also leaves quite a lot unsaid. Is there a specific reason our runner wants to increase his or her time? Perhaps there is an important race looming? Or maybe he is closing in on a personal best? What methods should he use to improve his speed? How soon would he like to reach this goal?

Restatement as a SMART goal:

I will use hill training techniques over the next 6 months to eliminate one minute off my time for the half marathon to make a stronger showing in the annual citywide race in November.

Notice:

The signposts this new smart goal example includes are blindingly clear. Our runner now knows:

To use hill training techniques
Over the next 6 months
To try to shave 1 minute off his total time for the half marathon
So that he can make a better showing in the big upcoming race.

By including all the smart criteria the new goal makes execution no more difficult that doing exactly what it says.

Following these examples when you’re setting smart goals will improve your goals — and your results — too.




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