What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal? S.M.A.R.T. is the acronym for criteria for setting achievable goals. The concept has been around for years, but the meaning behind the acronym varies. Our interpretation of the S.M.A.R.T acronym for short-term goals is as follows:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Action-Oriented
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Specificity is something we have already mentioned frequently in our blog. If you want to achieve a goal, you need to define it precisely. If your goal is to be happy, what does happiness mean to you? If it means you need to travel to feel fulfilled. Your goal could be to leave town three months out of the year, that is a specific goal. You can narrow it down further, but you get the point. Happiness means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. You have to know what exactly makes YOU happy.
Measurability is another essential criterion. If a goal is not measurable, how will you know that you have achieved it? In the previous example, the desire to travel 3 out of 12 months every year is a measurable goal. It is a place to start. You may choose to narrow it down further as you go, but you have currently met the first two criteria.
There are two types of goals action-oriented and outcome-oriented. Action-oriented goals require you to act, and outcome-oriented goal requires you to achieve an outcome. Our third short-term goal criterion is an action-oriented goal. The action-based approach is essential for short-term plans. Larger, more extended plans are likely to be outcome-based, and that is ok, as long as you have a series of short-term action-based goals to get you in motion. For example,
An outcome-oriented goal would be I want a new job.
An action-oriented goal would be I will send out 5-10 resumes a week.
The outcome-oriented goal is not entirely in your control. It is dependent on someone else finding your skills desirable enough to hire.
The action-oriented goal is in your control. You can take the time to send out a certain number of resumes per week.
The next criterion is relevance. Your goal needs to be in line with your big picture or personal/business mission statement. It has to move your long-term goals forward while accomplishing the short-term ones.
The last requirement includes adding time constraints. You have to set a specific deadline by which to achieve the goal. If you leave it opened ended, it will never get accomplished.
Setting your short-term goals that meet the S.M.A.R.T criteria will increase your success at achieving your goals. I look at it this way, action-based short-term goals give you motion. Outcome-based long-term goals provide you with direction. Both types of goals are necessary for a successful journey.