When it comes to writing your goals, it is important to make them actionable.  By actionable, I mean one you can put into action right away.  SMART goals allow you to do this.

SMART is an acronym to help you create defined, attainable goals.  SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

The “S” in Smart stands for specific.  Any objective or goal you define should be specific rather than broad.  For example, instead of creating a goal to save more money, you can create a goal to save $300 a month or $36,000 by the end of the year.  This is much more specific and gives you a roadmap to follow.  In this case, you can break down how much you need to raise each month to hit your goal, and then create an action plan that enables you to hit that number each month.

The “M” in SMART stands for measurable, which helps you evaluate the success or failure of your project.  Your goals should have some sort of objective way to measure them—whether that is by a deadline, a number, a percent change, or some other measurable element. For example, in saving $36,000 a year you can count each dollar you save and everyone knows what a dollar represents.

The “A” stands for achievable which means you can actually hit the goal.  For example, can you really save $300 each month?  By establishing a consistent practice, you can set a more achievable goal.

The “A” and “R” are closely related.  In addition to setting achievable goals, you also want to set realistic ones.  For example, using my achievable goal example of saving $300 per month is both realistic and achievable.

The “T” stands for time bound.  Your SMART goal should have an end date.  Without a time limit, your project could drag on and suffer from scope creep.  Deadlines provide a sense of urgency, so short-term tasks don’t drag into long-term goals unnecessarily.  Make sure you outline a clear project timeline. Deadlines are crucial to implementing goals that force you to act.

The benefits of SMART goals include:

  1. Clarity towards activity or project success.SMART goals help you set clear goals, so you can avoid vague or confusing goal language.
  2. A clear roadmap and finish line. With SMART goals, you know exactly what you want to achieve and when you expect to achieve it.
  3. Trackable numbers or stats. When you finish your project, SMART goals help you evaluate your success.

SMART goals allow you to very clearly and specifically identify what you need to do, how to do it, and when to do it.