How does one measure goals? This is a great question in the work place and for personal goals. Projects need organization. Individuals can certainly use milestones. Goals should be SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
The acronym SMART has a number of slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition for goal setting:
S - specific
M - measurable
A - achievable
R - realistic
T - time-bound
Setting goals that are SMART will help you to be successful in both your business and personal life. Consider when setting up your weekly to-do list or when evaluating your personal financial goals whether your goals are SMART goals.
Specific: The goal should be described as specifically as possible. While a goal of simply “loosing weight” isn’t specific a goal of losing 15 pounds from a current weight of 180 pounds in 4 months is specific.
Measurable: The goal must be measurable in order to be effective. The weight example is measurable. Being a better parent, better spouse, or better employee is a little harder to pin down. IF the goal is to be a better parent identify areas of parenting that are measurable. Consider turning off or putting your cell phone/computer away when you get home until after your kids go to bed. Or make an effort to get everyone to sit at the table for meals and talk together.
Achievable: Goal setting can be tricky particularly given the level of difficulty of the goal. A goal that is too easy will not be very full-filling or motivating. A goal that is extremely difficult could in fact have the opposite effect of deflating a person to the point they don’t want to continue. There needs to be a balance between a goal being challenging yet doable. A good frame of reference is to consider if a person sees themselves meeting that goal. If not perhaps the goal needs to be retrofitted and revisited.
Realistic: Do you possess the needed expertise, skills, knowledge, and time needed to reach your goal? If your goal is weight loss do you know about calorie intake, types of food, exercise routines needed to achieve your goal? If not perhaps some studying is in order. Consider the local library for free resources.
Time-Bound: This kind of spills over from the specific aspect of SMART goal setting. Having a deadline gives people the necessary positive tension needed to get a move on with your goal or goals. The goal should be realistic. Losing 15 pounds in two weeks isn’t realistic and probably is unhealthy. Losing 15 pounds in 4 months is realistic and probably a healthier way to go if you want to keep the weight off.
SMART is a left-brain tool being logical, linear, and easy to analyze. It is therefore not for everyone. For more left-brain and creative functions I’ll post something on SAFE goals at a later date.