The Thinker

Get SMART: Setting Goals that Work

The ThinkerDo you know where you’re going? As self-employed consultants, no one tells us what to do, and in our fast-paced careers it can be easy to get pulled off course. The process of setting SMART goals can help us think through and proactively choose our path to success.

Goals are good!
To some of us, the goal-setting process may seem like a tiresome chore, but  in reality it can be the key to having fun in your business. Goals give us focus and can contribute not just to the success of our business, but also to our enjoyment of our work. A goal can keep you engaged and energized.

Setting business goals also forces you to assess what you want from your business. The process can often reveal if we need to add a new skill or make a change.

Most importantly, goals provide a structure that helps you eliminate activities and even clients that do not line up with how you see your business. When you have a clear target you can harness your energy and efforts on actions and activities that are meaningful.

What is SMART?

SMART is an acronym, often used in marketing, for an approach to goals that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

A goal with each of the above characteristics provides the structure needed to pursue and achieve it. One way to illustrate what a SMART goal is, is to look at goals that aren’t SMART.

Here are a few examples of some common mistakes:

1. I will go to more networking events in 2014.

This goal has the M-A-R-T elements, but is not Specific. A better way to state it would be: I will attend at least one networking event per quarter in 2014. An even better SMART goal would say: I will attend at least one networking event per quarter in 2014 and leave with at least two new connections that I’ll connect with via email or social media on a monthly basis.

2. I’m going to increase my revenue.

This goal has A-R, but is not Specific (how?), Measurable (how much additional revenue to meet this goal?), or Time-bound (in what timeframe?).

3. I will get 10 new clients in 2014 and increase revenue 1,000%

This goal has S-M and T, but is it attainable and realistic? For most of us, the answer is probably no. Using goals to stretch ourselves slightly can be a good thing, but unrealistic goals are at best quickly abandoned, and at worst can lead to unhappiness, frustration and burnout.

For more on guidance on developing your own goals, including downloadable worksheets that step you through the process, Solo PR PRO Premium members can download the new ebook released today: Setting SMART Goals for Success.

Do you have any questions about the SMART process, or tips you’ve learned in your own goal setting? Let us know in the comments!