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S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting: Tips from a Project Manager

Posted By Erin Cheever, Monday, November 05, 2012

by Erin Cheever, Project Manager, Boomer Consulting, Inc. 

This blog post was originally published in the September 2012 Boomer Bulletin 

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. 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 I have become more comfortable in my Project Management role, I have been reading different articles, blogs and other research that can help me be a better project manager. I have been focusing a lot on goal setting at the beginning of a project and how to create ones that can change the way I view and carryout my projects.  Essentially I have been exploring how to set goals that can allow me to become better at my job. S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting has taught me to develop goals that are tailored for the best possible outcome. Although there are many variations of S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting, the individual letters all stand for the same thing: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Setting goals at the beginning of your project is your lifeline. From short- term to long-term project goals, they will allow you to start on the path to success throughout your entire project. The challenging part of goal setting is often deciding what those goals should be. 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 S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting rules can ensure your project stays on track and ultimately ends on track.


Your specific goals should always answer the 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, good or bad, or progress 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 too high 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.

Where are your project goals at today? Take your current goals and apply the checklist of S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting to see where you stand. Turn your newly focused goals into outcomes that end defined and complete and above all successful.

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