SMART Goals: What They Are and Why You Should Have Them

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I’ve been employed at Direct Capital for almost a year now (yay for work anniversaries!), but there are still some aspects of working for a large company that surprise me.

A few months ago I wrote a post about BHAGs and my discovery that they were a real thing businesses have. Today is another one of those posts.

SMART Goals. I’ve been setting them since the first of the year so it really isn’t a big surprise that they exist. But, just recently I found out that SMART is an acronym; that there is a method to the SMART Goal madness.

You don’t just set any goal you think is important – you set them with a purpose. Who knew?

Apparently everyone but me. So that’s what brings us here: What are SMART Goals and why should you set them?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. With a quick glance, we know that we need to set realistic goals that help the business as a whole, but are relevant to your specific role within the company and that can be attained in the given time frame. But, for the sake of this article, let’s break it down a little bit more.

Make your goal Specific

High level goals are nice-to-haves but can often be hard to accomplish. Understanding the specifics of your goal – why you are setting it, what you hope to achieve, and how you plan on accomplishing it – will make actually achieving it much easier.

For example, one of my goals this quarter was to improve “Direct Capital Reviews” Google search results and have more positive links representing us on the first page by writing articles and activating Trust Pilot. It would have been easy for me to simply say “Improve search results,” but that high-level goal doesn’t answer the five “W” questions.

Who is involved?

What do I want to accomplish?

Where am I looking to accomplish this?

When am I looking to accomplish this by?

Why am I setting this goal?

Make your goal Measurable

A goal without a milestone makes it hard to track your progress and ensure you are going in the right direction. For example, a goal of “increasing sales” won’t be as effective as saying “Increase sales by 10%.” From there, determine how much more you’ll need to do to hit that 10% and stay on track.

Make your goal Attainable

Seems pretty obvious – you wouldn’t want to set a goal that you couldn’t reasonably accomplish. But that’s not exactly what this means. Talent Quest writes, “Goals should motivate, not discourage. People are motivated by accomplishment, so ensure that goals are achievable and won’t overwhelm the individual.” Setting SMART goals is something that should motivate and inspire you (and your team) to do big things.

Make your goal Relevant

While SMART goals exist for an individual, it’s important to set them with the overarching business goal and mission in mind. You want to make sure that by reaching your goal, it will help the business achieve theirs as well. In addition, set a goal that makes sense for your position. As Talent Quest writes, someone in Sales wouldn’t have a goal to hire more qualified employees. That would be a personal SMART goal someone in Human Resources would have.

Make your goal Timely

Set a deadline. If you want to set goals on a quarterly basis, make sure the goal is something that can be completed in that time frame. If it’s yearly, however, it might be best to set goals with a hard end date so you and your team can be held accountable for its completion. Goals are great to have, but if they’re just parking lot ideas with no sense of real urgency, they may not get done.

With Q4 only a month away, now is a good time to really think about what goals will help you end the year strong. And, if one of those goals is to acquire new equipment to help boost sales, Direct Capital can help.

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