The following manuscript is shared with expressed permission from BossMann Magazine
(January 2020 issue).
20/20 Vision for Year 2020:
Goal-Setting with Clarity and Purpose
By John A. Nelson, Clinical Psychologist
The beginning of the new year is an opportunity to start over or begin afresh. It is a time when new goals are set and discipline is implemented. It is no secret that goal achievement requires dedication, commitment and intentionality. Let’s face it, some people are more successful at goal-setting than others. One thing successful people have demonstrated with goal-setting is the ability to establish goals that are clear and easy to track. Business management and personal development industries emphasize the need to not just develop goals, but more importantly to construct goals that are tangible, measurable and achievable. Goals with these components are popularly referred to as SMART goals. Creating and implementing SMART goals in 2020 is a strong way to begin the year with clarity and purpose.
SMART goals are:
Specific: Being specific includes targeting a specific area of improvement. The more specific a goal is, the easier it is to manage and maintain focus on its completion. Goals that are too broad are difficult to track, let alone achieve. Well-articulated goals can be smaller milestones that build towards larger accomplishments. Take for instance the goal of career success through promotion. Instead of having a broad goal of getting promoted at work, a more specific goal might include committing to a specific behavior that could lead to a promotion. Examples might include taking on a new responsibility outside of your standard job description, such as mentoring one subordinate or even volunteering time outside of the typical work week.
Measurable: Have you ever created a goal and months later been unable to identify whether you made progress towards that specific goal? Whenever goals are created it is important to identify how you will evaluate your progress. Establishing benchmarks is a way to measure your success towards goal achievement. For example, once a specific goal is established it is important to quantifiably measure progress by setting a specific date or time period by which you expect to complete certain benchmarks. In the example given above, you might set the goal to begin mentoring a subordinate at work by a certain time period, or even volunteer at least five hours monthly outside of normal work hours.
Attainable: Creating goals that are within your reach are essential to successful goal completion. A likely way to not achieve your goals includes setting goals that are unobtainable, unreasonable and unrealistic. Everyone has different capacities and capabilities for different tasks. What is attainable for one person may not be attainable for another. An important factor in deciding whether a goal is attainable is to identify specific steps required to accomplish that particular goal. If you are able to identify specific steps required to completing a goal, and more importantly have confidence in your ability to achieve these steps, then chances are the goal you set is an attainable one.
Relevant: Are the goals you set for yourself remotely connected to important aspects of your life and/or work? It is likely you will be motivated to work towards goals that matter to you, as well as goals that are worthwhile and provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Additional factors to consider with goal setting include clarifying if particular goals are more appropriate for certain seasons or phases in life over others. The goal of getting a promotion at work may be important, but not as relevant if your company does not project to offer any promotions in the foreseeable future.
Time-Oriented: Goals are set to be achieved. Some are short-term and some are long-term. Setting a time frame on goal achievement allows you to remain committed and focused on achieving whatever goals you have set. This typically includes setting a timeframe or deadline by which you intend to complete your goal, including having a start and end date. At the end of your deadline, you should be able to evaluate your success on goal achievement. At the end of your deadline, if you achieve your goal there will be reason to celebrate; if you realize you did not achieve your goal, there will be opportunity to reflect upon what worked, what did not work, and knowledge on how to modify your strategy accordingly.
SMART goals is a method of goal-setting that allows for specificity, measurability as well as clarification on attainability, relevance and timeliness. This method has been used by many successful organizations and individuals, and is also key to developing greater clarity in reaching your intended potential.