Setting SMART Goals for the New Year

As 2014 has come to an end and we move into 2015, I can’t help but do two things: reflect on the past year and look forward to the next. 

Reflecting on 2014

2014 year was a fantastic year.  I presented over 30 different seminars, traveled to places like Glacier National Park, attended a public speaking conference in Orlando, and met one of my fitness goals.

But I also had some shortcomings in 2014.  While I met my most exciting fitness goal of running 4 miles by the end of the year (after 10 years of dealing with bad knees), I realize that I was focused more on this exciting goal than the more valuable goal of exercising regularly for the fitness of my heart.  I did okay, but probably only did this every other week.

While I did well in 2014, I know that I could have done better. 

Why?  Because only one of my 2014 goals was SMART.

The SMART Strategy to Goal Setting

The SMART system is a way that allows one to easily achieve their goals because the strategy is designed for success.  In summary, the SMART system ensures that each goal contains the following elements:

  • Specific: The goal should have a narrow focus and avoid generalizations.  For example, if a business wants to grow the goal should specify who they are going to grow.
  • Measurable: There should be a way to evaluate successful completion.  Instead of wanting to increase sales, the goal should list the volume of sales or percentage of increase over the prior year.
  • Actionable: The goal should be something that can actually be done.  Wanting to win the lottery is not actionable.  It should be something you can (mostly) control by taking action.
  • Realistic: The goal needs to be achievable.  Setting a goal to open twenty-five new stores when you just opened your first store last year is probably not a realistic goal.  The goal needs to be something that can actually be obtained.
  • Time-bound: There should be target dates for the goal.  Milestones and end-dates should be assigned so there is a clear accountability for the goal.

So as you can see, my goal of “running 4 miles by the end of the year” was SMART while my goal to “exercise more consistently” was not.  So as I look toward 2015, I am going to make sure that all of my goals are SMART. 

Business Application

While my goals I shared with you from 2014 were personal to me, the same SMART strategy should be applied in all of your business goals as well.

If you haven’t done SMART goal setting in the past, don’t worry.  It doesn’t have to be a complex and drawn out process. 

It is best to start simple.

I recommend starting with only 3 SMART goals (per department for larger organizations).  This number is large enough that it can make a significant impact on your organization, but it is also small enough to be completely manageable.  

So as you go into 2015, ask yourself this question: What three goals will significantly impact my organization if I were to complete them this year? 

Once you define your three most important goals, take a few minutes to to ensure they are SMART.