Whether you’re trying to advance your career or achieve something significant in your personal life, at some stage you will need to set yourself some goals and work towards achieving them.
Most of us tend to have many goals at any one time, we want to be happy and rich, we want to lose weight, we want to drink less and quit smoking. Goals need focus and context, and this is where many people struggle and so their ambitions remain forever out of reach.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Boxed.
You jeopardize your chances of success from the very start when you make a goal too general.
One of the best things about having a measurable objective is having the ability to set yourself milestones.
If you don’t believe in something, when you’re not passionate about what you’re doing, it is not only extremely difficult to keep doing it, but you also get very little personal satisfaction from achieving milestones or even attaining the final objective itself. What really got my attention was the fact that Andy mentions that using SMART objectives is “an old favorite from the consultant’s bag of tricks”.

You apply the SMART criteria to any goal you wish to achieve and if it does not meet any of the five characteristics you clarify and adjust it until it does.
It is much easier to achieve a tough objective when you can break the journey up into smaller increments. Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to have ‘stretch goals’ (forgive the management terminology), but when it is physically impossible for you to stretch that far, you need to set your sights a little lower. If we know that we need to achieve our objectives by a certain date we tend to have more focus and prioritize. They have written for the LA Times, The Washington Post, President Bill Clinton's White House, Forbes, and more. Having learned about it I was almost immediately able to pinpoint where I went wrong (or right) with some of my recent personal successes and failures. The more specific your objective is the easier it becomes to measure it and gauge your progress. It’s a psychological thing, by giving yourself a series of successes along the way, through meeting a set of milestones, you give yourself positive reinforcement and working towards your goal becomes a much more pleasurable experience.

You may really want to make 1 billion dollars by tomorrow or solve world hunger by the end of the month, but realistically you have no chance of achieving either of those. Without a concrete deadline our goals are at best fuzzy and will tend to always be superseded by ‘more pressing’ concerns. Since learning about SMART I have tried to apply it not only in my personal life but also in my work and it has made a noticeable difference. Not only am I more productive, but I am also happier since I am a lot better able to achieve the objectives I set for myself (primarily because I set my goals in such a way as to meet all the SMART characteristics). It just feels like I am getting a lot more done these days possibly because I tend to focus on bite-sized goals that are most important and relevant to me (which is what SMART is all about).

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