At the beginning of each year, millions of people across the globe make New Year’s resolutions to spark positive changes in various aspects of their daily lives—learning a new skill, reading more, improving health and fitness—you name it!
However, the reality is that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February each year. Why does this happen? It’s because these goals are rarely SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant/realistic, and time-bound), leading to a lack of accountability and undefined action plans.
One of the most common reasons small businesses are not successful is due to a lack of organization and ambiguity in objectives. Setting SMART goals is a necessary exercise for all members of a small business or organization to create a comprehensive business development strategy based on accountability.
- They help employees align their individual development and team activities with organizational goals.
- They help management measure individual and organizational progress.
- They allow everyone in the organization to know when they’ve achieved what they’ve set out to.
Here are some tips to help you make your 2023 goals SMART:
Goals that are specific have a much greater chance of being accomplished. Specific goals call for action and require detailed steps to achieve. To make a goal specific, use concise verbs like “increase,” “improve,” “develop,” or “complete.” Avoiding general statements and focusing your goals is the first step to making them measurable.
To help make a goal specific, start by asking yourself the five “Ws”:
- Who is involved in this goal?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When do I want to achieve this goal?
- Why do I want to achieve this goal?
A SMART goal must have criteria for measuring progress throughout the year. If your goal cannot be measured, there is no way to determine your progress towards achieving that goal.
To make a goal measurable, ask yourself:
- How do I know if I have reached my goal?
- What is my indictor of progress?
- How many/much?
It’s important for SMART goals to be attainable and achievable, while also challenging. Attainability will help you figure out ways to work towards the goal, bringing it to fruition.
To ensure a goal is attainable, ask yourself:
- Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve this goal? If not, what am I missing?
- Can I get what I need to accomplish this goal?
- Have others done it successfully before?
It’s also important to have goals that are both realistic and relevant. Realistic SMART goals can be achieved given available resources, like time. Relevant goals align with the vision of your company and/or department. Achieving these relevant goals should move you closer toward larger organizational goals.
A SMART goal must have a start and finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be less urgency and motivation to achieve the goal. You can list this in days, months, quarters, or by the end of the year.
To make sure a goal is time-bound, ask yourself:
- Does my goal have a deadline?
- When do I want to achieve my goal?
For more information and help writing SMART goals (including specific examples), check out this resource from Indeed’s career guide.