Nothing happens until we plan, and good plans have goals and objectives. Setting goals and objectives correctly provides the necessary support and aids in their achievement. Before we dive into how to go about getting SMART and setting objectives, it’s important to understand that there is a world of difference between goals and objectives.
• Goals relate to our aspirations, purpose and vision. For example, I have a goal of becoming financially independent.
• Objectives are the battle plan, the stepping stones on the path towards the achievement of my goal.
The most well known method for setting objectives is the S.M.A.R.T. way. The SMART approach is well understood amongst managers, but is poorly practiced. S.M.A.R.T refers to the acronym that describes the key characteristics of meaningful objectives, which are Specific (concrete, detailed, well defined), Measureable (numbers, quantity, comparison), Achievable (feasible, actionable), Realistic (considering resources) and Time-Bound (a defined time line).
SMART objective are the stepping stones towards the achievement of your goals……
Specific means that the objective is concrete, detailed, focused and well defined. That is the objective is straightforward, emphasizes action and the required outcome. Focus on what you want to see happen.
If the objective is measurable, then we are able to track the results of our actions, as we progress towards achieving the objective. Remember, if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it! Importantly, measurement help us to know when we have achieved our objective. Can the measurements be obtained and how will you know when the change has been achieved?
Objectives need to be achievable, if the objective is too far in the future, you’ll find it difficult to keep motivated and to strive towards it’s attainment. Objectives, need to be achievable to keep you motivated. While being obtainable, objectives still need to stretch you, but not so far that you become frustrated and lose motivation. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.
Objectives that are achievable, may not be realistic….. however, realistic does not mean easy. Realistic means that you have the resources to get it done. The achievement of an objective requires resources, such as, skills, money, equipment, etc. to support the tasks required to achieve the objective. Most objectives are achievable but, may require a change in your priorities to make them happen. Ask yourself, how possible is it that this objective is achievable?
Time-bound means setting deadlines for the achievement of the objective. Deadlines create the all important sense of urgency. If you don’t set a deadline, you will eventually lose motivation and run out of steam. Deadlines create the needed urgency to prompt action. Ever notice how most points in a football game are scored in the last two minutes of each half?
Now it’s easier to work hard and SMART.