Setting goals, whether short-term or long-term, are ultimate ways to provide focus and direction in our lives. The process of goal setting is not a casual effort but a purposeful, explicit process that guides transformation. Along with providing direction, goals also help us to measure if we are succeeding and whether any course corrections need to be made along the way.
Since goal setting process is a conscious effort, one needs to ensure that the goals have all the characteristics needed.
The Top Five Characteristics are Abbreviated as SMART
- Begin with writing specific goals as they help to provide precision to the process. Be as specific with facts and data as you can. For instance, instead of writing “achieve business target by end of this quarter”, set goal as “achieve business target of 25 lacs by March 31st “
- Second, ensure that your goals are measurable. As mentioned earlier, goals help us to monitor how much have we succeeded. If goals cannot be measured, it will be difficult to assess how well are we doing in achieving it. A goal of “achieve business target of 25 lacs by March 31st “can be easily measured by matching the on-actual numbers with the projections. In case the goal is more subjective, say “Think more positively by the end of June 2020”, then assign a measurable unit to that. How would you measure if you have started thinking more positively? Maybe, get feedback from others or have positive outcomes to situations. So, adding the outcome of the situation or the number of positive feedbacks received can be a measurable approach to a goal.
- Third, apart from being specific and measurable, goals should be attainable. it’s good to be ambitious but goals that are not realistic and only ambitious can be demotivating. Such goals, no matter how hard you try, will be difficult to achieve. Check for resources and capability to attain the goal before writing it down. If the adequate resources are not available, then specific and measurable goals may not be achieved.
- Fourth step in the goal setting process is to ensure that the goals are relevant and must be aligned to our ambitions and plans for self. When goals are not relevant, we are not motivated enough to achieve it and the focus from it is lost along the way.
- Lastly, goals should be time-bound. Giving a deadline increases the sense of urgency to achieve the goal and makes planning effective. When setting deadlines, one must ensure that it is realistic. It should not be too rigid and stringent, and neither should it be too lenient and flexible. Assess the adequate time necessary for achieving the goal and then set the deadline.
Apart from these 5 characteristics, the following principles must be considered:
- Goals should be of moderate difficulty level. Goals that are either too easy or too difficult do not motivate us.
- We must write our goals. Just keeping it in our head will make us forget and lose focus from the goals.
- Although goals are set with its characteristic of being attainable, one shouldn’t be hesitant to ask for help if there is any obstacle in reaching the goals. Therefore, having a plan B and listing back up resources to attain the goal is a good practice
- Make it a habit to keep checking your progress on the goal and make course corrections whenever necessary. Schedule these review session and make modifications early in the process rather than later (closer to the deadline).
Following these simple principles and characteristics in the goal setting process can help us to be more focused, provide us a direction and transform our lives.