Goodbye 2011; welcome 2012! It’s time to make our resolutions and goals for the New Year. Dr. John Norcross, clinical psychologist and a distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Scranton says, “Between 40 to 50 percent of us participate in that annual holiday ritual, the making of New Year’s resolutions.”
As the New Year begins, I would like to offer up my “go to” goal setting tool: SMART goals. It’s not new and certainly not rocket science, but SMART goal setting offers a simple way to get started in making 2012 your best year ever.
Paul J. Meyer describes the characteristics of S.M.A.R.T. goals in Attitude is Everything.
The first term stresses the need for a specific goal over and against a more general one. This means the goal is clear and unambiguous; without vagaries and platitudes. To make goals specific, they must tell a team exactly what is expected, why is it important, who’s involved, where is it going to happen and which attributes are important.
A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:
- What: What do I want to accomplish?
- Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
- Who: Who is involved?
- Where: Identify a location.
- Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
The second term stresses the need for concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of the goal. The thought behind this is that if a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
The third term stresses the importance of goals that are realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
How: How can the goal are accomplished?
The fourth term stresses the importance of making goals relevant. A relevant goal must represent an objective that the goal-setter is willing and able to work towards. This does not mean the goal cannot be high. A goal is probably relevant if the goal-setter believes that it can be accomplished. If the goal-setter has accomplished anything similar in the past they may have identified a relevant goal.
A relevant goal will usually answer the question:
Does this seem worthwhile?
The fifth term stresses the importance of grounding goals within a time frame, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
- What can I do 6 months from now?
- What can I do 6 weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Don’t delay…schedule a meeting with an SBDC Consultant to set some 2012 SMART goals for your business!
Happy New Year!
Donna J. Simpson
University of Scranton SBDC