How to Set Smart Goals…And Actually Reach Them

06.25.19 | Professional Development

Who doesn’t love setting a goal? A good goal is inspiring and makes you feel like you can conquer the world. Unfortunately, dreaming up the goal is the easy part. Reaching the goal is a different matter entirely. In fact, only 8% of people who set goals actually achieve them. Those aren’t exactly great odds. Fortunately, there’s a way to beat the odds. Setting SMART goals could be the key to reaching your goal every single time.

SMART Goals: 

The SMART goal system (invented by Peter Drucker in 1981) gives you the advantage by forcing you to think about how you’re going to achieve your objective. It’s like an archer visualizing the target before drawing back the bow. Preparation is key. 

SMART goals are:

  • Specific 
  • Measureable 
  • Achievable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-Bound 

Specific: step by step 

Let’s be real—a nonspecific goal probably won’t get done. It’s like saying you’re going to do laundry…at some point, and then forgetting about it and running out of clean socks. It happens to the best of us. 

The more specific your goal can be, the better. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish? 
  • Why is it important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • What resources will I need?

To put this in context, let’s say you are preparing for a job interview. Your goal is to nail the interview, but you can’t just leave it at that. Take a minute to write down some of the specifics:

  • What do I want to accomplish? 
    • I want to absolutely crush my next job interview! 
  • Why? 
    • Because I want to advance my career.
  • Who? 
    • Me and the interviewers. 
  • Where? 
    • Onsite? Over the phone?
    • Save the location in Google maps and don’t be late!
  • What resources? 

Measurable: tracking your progress

The more specific you are, the easier it will be to keep track of your progress. Crossing things off a list is also a great way to stay motivated. Seeing that list grow smaller and smaller will make you want to achieve more! Here’s how you might measure your progress when preparing for an interview:

  • Read two articles with interview advice.
  • Prepare five questions to ask during the interview. 
  • Practice two ways to manage stress (breathing exercises or wall push ups).  
  • Make sure interview outfit is clean and go to bed early the night before.
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early. 

Achievable: keeping it real

In order to succeed, your goal needs to be attainable. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a challenge, but remember to keep your goal within reason. Preparing for an interview and landing a new job is definitely doable! However, picking up a bow and arrow and expecting to beat out Hawkeye for his spot on the Avengers might be wishful thinking. 

Setting an achievable goal is also a great way to stay motivated. If we know we have a good chance of success, we’re more likely to stay on target.

Relevant: making it matter  

Dreaming big is part of what makes us human. After all, who doesn’t daydream about joining the Avengers and taking on Thanos? But unless being a superhero is in your job description, it might be more productive to focus on goals that are specific to your own situation. 

To set a relevant goal simply ask: why does this goal matter to me, personally? How will it move me forward? A relevant goal gives your objective meaning and purpose.  

Timebound: staying on track

We all love to procrastinate. But deep down we know that if it weren’t for deadlines and other people keeping us on track (thanks, Mom!) nothing would get done. A goal with a deadline tells you that this project or task is worthy of your resources and attention. A deadline is a great way to make sure your goal stays a priority. 

Reach your Smart goals with Workbox

Whether it’s crushing your next job interview or challenging the Hulk to an arm wrestling match (good luck!), a SMART goal will help you get there in one piece. Finding a new job may seem like an impossible task, but take it from us—you can do it. And we can help