SMART goals for success

Specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, time-based – this is how goals should be formulated for optimal effectiveness when planning and organising tasks. Use the SMART method when defining goals to ensure that all the criteria of a well-formulated goal are met.

Goals are an outstanding planning and organisational tool. This is what I would like to achieve: in a single working step, in a project or a phase of life – whether professionally or in my private life. But how does one set goals the right way? A very reliable approach is the SMART method. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, time-based and stands for the criteria with which goals should be defined.

SMART goals help us to achieve our aspirations.

Find out more about how to set goals the right way and what is needed for successful self-management in the FCOS Box.

The SMART method can be applied to defining goals related to time and project management as well as in performance reviews or for private purposes. Find out here how the SMART method is applied to the formulation of goals using a number of simple examples.

Specific goals

The first mistake is that we often do not really think about what exactly we would like to achieve and therefore tend to formulate our goals imprecisely.

Examples of non-specific goals:
“I would like to reduce my workload in the future.
“I would like to lead a more healthy life.” 

What does that mean? When is in the future? And by how much would you like to reduce it? What does leading a healthier life mean? Does it relate to diet or exercise? Neither goal provides information about how the end state should look. Take this into consideration when formulating a goal.

The goals reformulated more precisely:
“From next month I will reduce my workload from 100% to 80%.”
“I will go jogging twice a week.”

Measurable goals

Goals need to be measurable so we can check our progress or maintain the necessary motivation over the long term.

Example of goals that cannot be measured:
“I want to finish editing the report soon.”
“I would like to stop smoking.”

What does soon mean? When will you stop? Do not leave anything open to interpretation. Formulate the goal so that you can check whether is has been achieved.

Examples of measurable goals:
“I will finish editing the report by tomorrow at midday.”
“As of next month I will be a non-smoker.”

Accepted goals

In order not to deviate from a goal, it must be acceptable. In other words: it needs to be an attractive goal.

Examples of unacceptable goals:
“I will no longer check my social media channels during the week.”
“In the future all client queries will be processed immediately.”

Be honest with yourself. Can you accept these goals? Will they remain attractive over the long term?  Set goals that can be implemented both by you and all your employees and that remain attractive.

Examples of acceptable goals
“I will dedicate a maximum of 30 minutes per day to my social media channels.”
“All client queries will be processed within 48 hours.”

Realistic goals

When zeal gets the upper hand, we get the feeling we can achieve anything at all. But be honest with yourself. Are you willing and able to achieve and keep to these goals?

Examples of unrealistic goals:
“I will work so that everything is always finished by the evening.”
“From now on, I will always use the stairs.”

Do not allow yourself to be misled by excessive zeal. Formulate your goals realistically so that you do not fail within a short time.

Examples of realistic goals:
“I will organize a priority rating (1 = urgent; 2 = within 2 days; 3 = by the end of the week) and will deal with all priority 1 tasks by the end of each day.”
“I will use the stairs for anything up to 3 floors.”

SMART goals help to avoid stress

In the article Stress: the motivation killer – This is how to create a motivating environment for your employees you will find tips on how to make daily life easier for your employees by, among other, setting realistic goals.

In the article Stress management – Activate your stress defence systems, you will find out how you can apply this to your own working day.

Time-based goals

Do not leave the timing for achieving your goal to chance.

Examples of non-time-based goals
“I will get some training in work safety.”
“I am going to lose 2 kilograms.”

You now have all the time in the world. At some point you will no doubt achieve these goals, but it is better to set a date at the time you define the goal in order to achieve or implement it:

Examples of time-based goals:
“Next year I will take the exam to become a specialist in occupational safety and health protection.”
“I will lose 2 kilograms by the end of next month.”

The next time you are defining a goal, think back to the SMART method, and put it down in writing. This will make it easier for you to keep at it and achieve your goals.

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In the seven chapters of the FCOS Box and a series of short video clips, you will find out how to improve health and safety at the office and what needs to be taken into consideration.

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