Setting SMART Goals

Successful Goal SettingSuccessful Goal Setting

Setting SMART goals is one of the most powerful and practical skills a project manager needs to master. In both your personal life and your professional career, setting and achieving goals can mean the difference between wild success and mediocrity.

The key to effective goal setting is to make sure your goal is well-defined.

A well-defined goal allows individuals and teams to focus on critical activities by providing guidance and boundaries. If a goal is not defined well, it can lead to wasted effort and even result in decreased team motivation.

There are five criteria that a well-defined goal meets. These criteria are represented by the mnemonic SMART.

Well=Defined goals are...

  • Specific
    A well-defined goal is specific. It should be clear to anyone reading the goal exactly what the goal should achieve. Vague goals produce vague results, so make sure your goals are specific.
  • Measurable
    A well-defined goal is measurable. It should have a quantifiable measurement that you can use to determine whether the goal has been met or not. Measurements can be in any relevant unit such as cost, quantity, or efficiency.
  • Achievable
    A well-defined goal is achievable. It's OK to have "stretch" goals, but even then it is important for team members to feel they can still achieve them. Making sure the goal is within their control and influence can give them the confidence they need to achieve it.
  • Relevant
    A well-defined goal is relevant. Making sure the goal is important for achieving the project's vision or meeting a personal target will help people get motivated to accomplish it.
  • Time-Bound
    A well-defined goal is time-bound. It should have a target date for when it should be completed.

In addition to applying the SMART criteria when defining your goal, there are two additional aspects you should focus on as well.

First, make sure you understand WHY this goal is important. For challenging goals, this is a critical aspect to answer as it will help keep the team motivated during tough times.

Second, identify what will be needed for you to accomplish this goal.  For example, are there any material items or people that you will need to successfully achieve this goal?

Incorporating SMART criteria into your goal definitions is important for successful goal setting.

You can find more articles about effective goal setting strategies below.

Related Articles About SMART Goals

SMART Goal Setting Worksheet: Complete Guidance for Setting and Achieving Goals

Download this FREE goal setting worksheet to help you create SMART goals. It provides complete guidance for setting and achieving goals!

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