S.M.A.R.T. Goals

In goal setting, there is one method that has stood the test of time. Although there have been variations to what the acronym stands for over time, the main definition of a SMART goal is one that is:

• Specific
• Measurable
• Attainable
• Realistic
• Timely


When a goal is specific, then you have clearly identified what it is that you expect to be accomplished. If you can’t say specifically what you want to achieve, then how can you expect yourself or a subordinate to be able to achieve it? A specific goal will answer the questions:

• Who? Who is taking action or is affected?
• What? What is the result I want to achieve?
• Where? Is there a specific location?
• When? When do I want to complete this goal?
• Which? Are there restraints or requirements that have to be met?
• Why? Why is this important? What specifically is the benefit of achieving this goal?

For example, let’s say that you want to improve customer relations. That’s not specific enough. If you answer the questions above, however, it becomes much more specific:

• Who – customers whose accounts I am assigned to. (currently 750)
• What – I want to be the person that my customers think of first when they need to talk to someone about internet technology. I will know this is happening when I receive at least 20% more inbound customer calls each month. I will email and then call all 750 customers to re-introduce myself and our services.
• Where – In the five states where I currently have customers.
• When – Within six months.
• Which – Starting with customers that I haven’t heard from in more than a year.
• Why – To increase sales, reduce customer complaints, and increase customer satisfaction.


Each goal that you set should be measurable so that you have a means of ascertaining how far along you are in reaching the goal as well as when the goal will be complete. If you have a measure for the entire project, as in our example above of reaching 750 customers, then you can also determine how much of your daily work load should be dedicated to achieving the goal.

So, for our example above, 750 customers need to be emailed and then called in enough time that we see a 20% increase in the amount of inbound calls within six months. Of course, that means that we should complete our outgoing contacts as soon as possible in order to allow time for the customers to respond.

Let’s assume that we can complete 50 emails in a day in addition to maintaining normal customer service. Then we know that we can email everyone in 15 workdays or three weeks. But, we might not want to wait three weeks between emailing and calling. So let’s say we decide to alternate emailing and calling.

In the first week, we decide to only email 100 people. The second week, we call those 100 people. Then we alternate doing the same thing over the following weeks until we have completed our list. Not only do we now have a measurable goal, but we’ve determined the work that needs to take place in order to achieve that goal and how we need to implement that work into our regular routine so that we have the best chance of success.

To find the measures for your goal, ask the questions:

 How much?
• How many?
• How often?
Or, just answer the question, “How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?”


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