Dictionary.com defines a goal as "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.”
Goal setting is involved in everything we do. From personal goals to professional goals to dreaded weight loss goals, we are a goal setting culture. We set simple goals, attainable goals and goals that we may never achieve. The truth is many of us don’t know how to set a goal; or maybe it’s more accurate to say that we don’t know how to set a goal that will lead us down a path to success. We often set goals and are surprised when they are not met. Goals often just disappoint in the end.
As we’ve begun to work on our strategic initiatives for 2015, I’ve been reading through articles and blogs and doing research that will help me meet my goal of improved performance as a project manager. My focus is to set goals at the beginning of a project that will change the way I view and carryout projects. As I have been exploring, I have decided that the best way for me to set goals that can allow me to become more successful at my job is to use the acronym SMART to develop goals that are tailored for the best possible outcome. Although there are many variations of SMART in the discussion about setting goals, the individual letters all stand for essentially the same thing. In my case, I’ll use Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.
Setting goals at the beginning of a project is your lifeline. From short-term to long-term, project goals will lead you on the path to success throughout your entire project. The challenging part of goal setting is often in deciding which goals you should undertake. How will you know you can achieve them? How will you know they will be in line with the outcome of your project? Whether you are a seasoned project manager or the lead of your first project, following the rules of SMART can help your projects start on track and ultimately end on track.
Your specific goals should always answer the questions who, what, when, why and how. They are clear, concise and defined points. They outline exactly what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.
Choose goals that you can measure. Goals where you cannot see change or progress, good or bad, are not measurable.
Your goals should be not impossible. Setting attainable goals allows you to know that even if you have to extend yourself or push harder than you ever have to get there, you can and you will.
Focus on the practicality of realistic goals. Set the bar high, but not so high that you will never reach it.
Give yourself timely goals by making sure each of them has a due date or an end point. No such goals were ever achieved by a never ending possibility.
Have you set goals for this year? Take your current goals and apply the SMART checklist to see where you stand. It will help you turn your newly focused goals into successful outcomes.