We all have goals, but successfully accomplishing our goals can be a challenge for many of us. With various priorities constantly competing with one another at any given moment, there are countless obstacles that get in the way of us achieving our well-intended strategies. Utilizing organizational tools can help us overcome chaos and confusion by simplifying the goal-making process and streamlining our path to success and achievement. The SMART tool is one example we can use to help us create the right goals and a clear pathway to completing them on time. This is one of many ways we can learn to work smarter. To create a SMART goal, we need to follow the five guidelines below.

Specific: What is it that you would like to do or accomplish?

To narrow down your goal, it can be helpful to use the five “W’ questions:

  1. Who: Who will be involved in achieving this goal?
  2. What: What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  3. When: When would I like to accomplish this goal?
  4. Where: Is there a particular location that this goal needs to be achieved?
  5. Why: Why is this goal important to me?

TIP: Be sure to write this down, as this serves as a great reference tool throughout the process.

Example: “I would like to become a subject matter expert in eCommerce marketing within the next year to be an in-house resource for my team.”

Measurable: How will you measure success and completion?

Next, it’s important to identify the criteria you will use to measure your progress because measurement equals motivation. This step allows you to break your large goal into smaller goals to achieve along the way. You can address questions such as:

  1. How much or how many?
  2. How often?
  3. How will I know when I’ve accomplished this goal?

TIP: Use action words like “I will…” to commit to these measurements and consider keeping a list that you can cross off as you go.

Example: “To become a subject matter expert in eCommerce marketing, I will subscribe to industry emails and read one article per day, connect with one eCommerce or Digital Marketing professional per month, read two books or attend one webinar per quarter, and complete an online digital marketing course during the next year.  I will also continue this process to remain current on evolving industry trends.”

Attainable: Do you have what you need to achieve this goal?

A crucial step in the goal-making process to ensure successful achievement is making sure that your goal is realistic and attainable – this goal should stretch you as a person and challenge you to grow while still being reasonable. This step is a test of commitment and can allow us to see the bigger picture to identify what is possible now and what additional responsibilities might be necessary to complete before we are able to move our attention to this particular goal. Some questions to help you determine if your goal is attainable at this time are:

  1. Do I have the resources I need to achieve this goal?
  2. Is this goal attainable within the given time?
  3. What will I need to rearrange in my life in order to complete this goal?
  4. Am I committed to achieving this goal?

TIP: Be honest with yourself. If now is not the time, then consider a more attainable goal that will move you one step closer to this one!

Example: “In order to achieve this goal, I need to create a schedule and follow the timeline diligently.  I need to be adaptable in order to accomplish these tasks within the given time frame, and I have acquired the necessary resources to do so.”

Relevant: How realistic is your goal and does it align with your company or life purpose?

Another important consideration when goal-setting is to determine why this goal is important to you and that it aligns with other goals you may be balancing right now. This helps us maintain our control and hold ourselves accountable. To test this, we can answer the following questions:

  1. Why is this goal important to me?
  2. Is now the right time to pursue this goal?
  3. Does this goal align with my current endeavors?
  4. Will this goal be worthwhile in the future?
  5. Will I be able to balance other responsibilities if I pursue this goal?

TIP: Consider how this goal might affect various aspects of your life both personally and professionally, as well as how it might affect the people in your life. Planning for any changes to normal processes can be very helpful in reducing stress for yourself and others and help you remain on track to achieve your goal(s).

Example: “Becoming a subject matter expert in eCommerce marketing is important for my career and the future success of my team; this goal is realistic right now as it aligns with my current role and will still allow me to balance my other responsibilities throughout the process.”

Time-Based: When would you like to accomplish this goal?

Finally, it’s vital to set a completion date for your goal. This step serves as a target to help maintain focus and momentum. It can be very rewarding to create a timeline with a start and end date to help track your progress along the way. Questions you can ask yourself to set an appropriate time frame for your goal are:

  1. When will I begin?
  2. What date will I achieve this goal?
  3. What is my timeline (weeks, months, etc.) for this goal?

TIP: If you find time to be an obstacle day-to-day, consider exploring time management strategies such as the Pomodoro Technique; set a timer and focus on a chosen task for 25 minutes, and then take a short five (5) minute break.  After completing this process four times, take a longer break of 20-30 minutes. This method allows you to focus intently for a set amount of time and then provides a break for your body and mind to help maintain motivation and stamina.

Example: “In one year, I would like to be a subject matter expert in eCommerce marketing for my team.  I will begin today and follow the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual roadmap strategy to achieve my goal on time.”