Most of us have a go at writing down some goals from time to time and do our best to achieve them. Usually we are inspired by a training course, a random search around the internet, or at worst by frustration in the workplace, “anything to get inspired, PLEASE!”. I am a big advocate for goal setting. I have a personal diary that travels with me every day in my backpack on the train and has my current goals in it. I read them pretty regularly. I believe a weekly review is a good idea. I update the goals about once a month, carrying some forward, scrapping some and adding new ones. SMART Goals keep me engaged.
Keep your goal list dynamic, relevant and current.
What’s a SMART Goal?
Well it’s a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. And it’s a great idea to take the time to review your goals and make sure they fit the criteria of a SMART goal. Why? Because the likelihood of success, and the goals value to you, is significantly improved if the goal is SMART.
So let’s take a look at the criteria in more detail.
Think carefully about what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve the goal. What’s the purpose behind the goal and what does it mean to you, how will you or others benefit? Who do you need to get involved in the goal and will you be able to enlist their support/help? What’s going to get in the way of achieving your goal?
How are you going to know when you’ve achieved your goal, you need to be able to measure it. That’s part of being very specific. “When I have achieved this goal, I will have… I will be able to… etc. If you had to prove you’d achieved your goal in a Performance and Development meeting, would you be able to?
You need to make sure it’s something you can actually achieve. No use setting your sights on the moon when you’ve only got a pushbike to get you there. I am definitely a supporter of not limiting yourself and reaching for the stars, but I am also a supporter of setting sensible stepped goals that you can achieve. There is a lot to be said for being able to complete a goal and pat yourself on the back. It’s incredibly important for building your resilience.
Your goals need to be relevant to the context in which they are set. No use setting yourself a work goal to be the best public speaker in the team, if you work by yourself in a toll booth. Make sure your work place goals align with company objectives, strategies, culture, behaviours etc. and that your personal goals are relevant to you, and your personal/professional growth.
We all need to commit to a time-frame on a goal. If you can’t see your goal reaching a conclusion at any point on the horizon, then perhaps you should rethink the goal and your commitment to it. It’s also really tempting not to constrain yourself by applying a time to your goals, but what you’re really doing is giving yourself a convenient out, an opportunity to practice your skill as an expert procrastinator.
Here’s a SMART goal example for improving networking
- To improve my networking both in its effectiveness and frequency as I know it is critical in my professional career development. To optimise my opportunities for career progression in the company by connecting with relevant people. To network with people in the specific areas in which I wish to develop my career and increase my effectiveness in my current role and these are (a)…(b)…(c)…. To use a mentor/coach to support my networking development.
- I will commit to 2 hours networking each week – double what I do now, using social media platforms LinkedIn and Twitter to increase connections, engage in conversations, present and share information. I will arrange one face to face meeting per week with a colleague or person external to the business. When I am successful I expect to have at least 10 new contacts that could potentially impact my career
- I currently spend one hour per week networking in an adhoc fashion, so organising myself and increasing to two hours is achievable. Making one new contact each month is also achievable.
- I am very involved in Employee Engagement and people management activities, and I need to be constantly learning and developing to have relevance for my audience. I want to have positive influence through sharing the best of the knowledge and experience I acquire. Networking allows me to be a conduit for the information I give and receive.
- I am going to review my performance monthly against more specific actions associated with the goal that I will set myself. I will review the outcomes of my goal in 12 months’ time. I will ask a colleague or my mentor to review my goal at the start and to also provide feedback on how they think I have gone toward achieving my goal, periodically and at the end of 12 months.
The wrap Up
Right, so this is a pretty detailed goal, but so it should be since my career depends upon it and it’s going to take 12 months to achieve. Obviously you need to tailor the detail to the magnitude of the goal depending on how complex or simple it is, how long it will take, how much time it will consume, and how important it is. Begin with – how much value will it bring you? You don’t need to write all that detail, but atleast ask yourself relevant questions to test how smart the goal is. Simple goals may be just a sentence, but they still need to be SMART and so do you.
Good Luck (you won’t need it, I’m sure)
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Many thanks to James Westmore for his wonderful artwork.