Most of us can't hit a target if we can't see it. Before you can develop plans, you have to know what you want to accomplish (your goals or targets); how you want to accomplish those goals or targets; what resources of time, money, and materials you have; and who will carry out the implementation. So set some targets for yourself, targets that you can see... and we'll start the journey to reaching them, in this third installment of our series on Motivation.
The first element in planning is knowing what we want to achieve, and the way we word our goals is the biggest factor in helping us achieve them. Lucky for us, some smart person has come up with an acronym to help us remember these characteristics. Goals should be SMART:
- Specific answers the questions "what is to be done?" "how will you know it is done?" and describes the results (end product) of the work to be done. The description is written in such a way that anyone reading the objective will most likely interpret it the same way. To ensure that an objective is specific is to make sure that the way it is described is observable. Observable means that somebody can see or hear (physically observe) someone doing something.
Measurable w/Measurement answers the question "how will you know it meets expectations?" and defines the objective using assessable terms (quantity, quality, frequency, costs, deadlines, etc.). It refers to the extent to which something can be evaluated against some standard. An objective with a quantity measurements uses terms of amount, percentages, etc.. A frequency measurement could be daily, weekly, 1 in 3. An objective with a quality measurement would describe a requirement in terms of accuracy, format, within university guidelines.
- Attainable answers the questions "can the person do it?" "Can the measurable objective be achieved by the person?" "Does he/she have the experience, knowledge or capability of fulfilling the expectation?" It also answers the question "Can it be done giving the time frame, opportunity, and resources?" These items should be included in the SMART objective if they will be a factor in the attainment.
- Relevant answers the questions, "should it be done?", "why?" and "what will be the impact?".
- Time-oriented answers the question, "when will it be done?" It refers to the fact that an objective has end points and checkpoints built into it. Sometimes a task may only have an end point or due date. Sometimes that end point or due date is the actual end of the task, or sometimes the end point of one task is the start point of another. Sometimes a task has several milestones or checkpoints to help you or others assess how well something is going before it is finished so that corrections or modifications can be made as needed to make sure the end result meets expectations. Other times, an employee’s style is such that the due dates or milestones are there to create a sense of urgency that helps them to get something finished.
In addition to following the SMART acronym, you'll want to make sure your goals and targets are personal, positive, and written down some place that you see them daily.
Use these tips to beggin creating your future and achieving your goals.