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Setting SMART Goals

Successsful people throughout history have encouraged us to set goals, and history teaches that people who have goals reach their dreams far more that those shooting from the hip. Fitzhugh Dodson said "without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination." Setting goals is an essential task for business owners for just that reason. If you do not plan your business success, there's no telling where your business will end up. Goal setting can be difficult, but it gets easier with practice, and learning how to set goals that actually work for you can make goal setting an enjoyable and motivating process. Setting SMART goals can help you get there.

Many people fail to reach their goals because they confuse goals with desires, hopes or wishes. Desires, hopes and wishes are great--that is what motivates us to do things. The difference is that a goal is something you actually are going to attempt to achieve. You may wish you could be a ballerina but have no intention of every stepping foot in a ballet class, for instance. Or you may wish to have a successful and profitable home business and be willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen. Good goals are based on those desires you actually want to work toward. They are strategic plans for achievement.

There is a well-known and well-used system for setting goals called the SMART plan. SMART is an acronym. You will find various words used for the letters in different literature, but they are all similar. The letters stand for

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Timely


Specific means clearly defining your goals by making them as specific as possible. Owning a business is a vague goal. Owning a home based business selling your handmade jewelry is specific. Owning a home based business selling your handmade jewelry on your website, online auctions and at two trade shows per year is even more specific. Improving your website is vague. Improving your website by posting weekly targeted content, promoting with daily social media postings, upgrading your graphics and analyzing your traffic data is specific.

Measurable means how will you define your success and track your progress. Every goal should have some way of quantifiying your results, some system of keeping score. Being specific when you set goals can help you determine how to measure them. Adding measurement to your goals means put numbers on them. How many widgets are you going to sell? How many blog postings? How often will you do certain tasks? How many customers will you call? How much do you want to grow your web traffic? How many dollars will you cut from your expenses?

Achievable means that your goal is reachable or attainable. If you set your goals so high that you cannot possibly reach them, you are setting yourself up for failure. However, goals should also be aggressive, making you stretch, but also something you can easily see yourself achieving with determined effort. Honestly evaluating your resources (time, money, etc.) can help you make your goals more achievable.

Relevant means setting goals that are relevant to your current circumstances and your overall mission. Making sure your goals are relevant helps you focus on the big picture and not get bogged down in details. Spending three weeks choosing a background color for your website is probably not relevant to your overall goal. Speaking to groups who who do not need your products and services is also not relevant. Finding opportunities to groups who regularly use your products is quite relevant.

Timely means setting your goals based on a certain time frame. Making your goals timely means deciding on a due date for projects or deciding you will do certain tasks every day or on a certain day of the week. It answers the "when" question. Without these time frames, you are likely to find yourself procrastinating or putting off tasks.

If you have never set goals using a system like the SMART plan, it can be hard at first to answer all those questions and make your goals "fit". However, the process is very valuable. It is quite a learning experience and once you master this system, you will have a skill that you can use in any area of your life.

Take a look at your current goals. Are they SMART?

To comment or if you need help in making your goals SMART, visit the forum for this article

For more information on goals, I highly recommend
Goals! How to Get Everything You Want--Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible. I reviewed this book here: Goals by Brian Tracy.

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