Every year, countless numbers of people reflect on the previous year and begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. With common resolutions like “lose weight,” “learn something new,” and “save more money,” not many people will actually follow through. In fact, studies have shown that less than 25% of people stick to their resolutions beyond 30 days. Of those “resolutioners,” only 8% will accomplish their resolutions.
This year, ditch the New Year’s Resolutions. Set SMART Goals for the new year instead.
What Are SMART Goals?
You’ve probably heard the term referenced before in the past. SMART goals are goals set using specific criteria to help ensure your goals are attainable. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Not only is it a good way to find out if your goals are attainable, by using the SMART goals framework, you can also set yourself in the right direction for actually achieving those goals.
Let’s break down the 5 steps to SMART goals:
S – Specific
The first step to writing your SMART Goals is making sure they are Specific. The more specific your goal, the better it will be to track and easier it will be to hold yourself to those goals.
When making sure that your goal is specific, think about whether your goal answers any of these questions:
The more questions you can answer from above, the better.
Here is an example of how you can turn a broad (non-specific goal) into something that is “SMART Goal” acceptable.
If you have a goal to “Earn More Money,” this is NOT a specific enough goal. Earning more money can be your goal, but we need to dig a little deeper than that. Instead, think about:
- How much money do you want to make? – The What
- How do you plan to make the money? – The How
Earn $50,000 by selling a new online course.
This is NOT our finished goal. We will continue to grow on our goal in the next steps of our SMART goal.
M – Measurable
After you have your initial goal written, the next thing to do is determine how we are going to track this goal. You must be able to continually track the progress of your goal over time. If your goal is measurable, you can determine if you are on/off track, whether you need to make adjustments, or if you need to come up with a new plan to accomplish your goals.
We already know that we want to earn $50,000. This is a good starting point for tracking our progress and making sure we are on track for achieving our goal of $50,000. Now let’s add a little more to it.
Earn $50,000 by selling a new online course (Need to sell the $350 online course to 143 of 10,000 current subscribers – This is what we will be measuring and evaluating as we complete our check-ins).
Now you have a quantity to shoot for and a number to track against, $50,000 or 143 sign-ups. Next, we’ll need to figure out how to act on this goal.
A – Actionable
By now you should have determined that your goal is measurable, and we are able to track your progress. Next, we must outline steps that we can take to accomplish this goal. This will be the “How” that we mentioned earlier.
The more detailed you can be with your steps, the easier it will be to stick to the steps. In addition, it will be much easier to make minor adjustments to your steps if you experience any setbacks.
Earn $50,000 by selling a new online course (Need to sell the $350 online course to 143 of 10,000 current subscribers). This will be accomplished by creating lead magnet incentives that promote the new course and encourage course sign-ups. The lead magnet content will be promoted via social media and social media advertisements to draw in more potential customers.
Obviously, this is a rather high-level example. Like I mentioned earlier, the more detailed you can be with these steps (think specifics: what kind of lead magnets, how will you create them, what will the ads look like, etc.), the easier it will be for you and/or your team to accomplish your goal.
R – Realistic / Relevant
Nobody wants to spend time towards a goal that is impossible to accomplish or irrelevant to their purpose, company, or life. For that reason, we need to make sure that the goal is Realistic and Relevant.
First off, is this goal realistic:
Would it be realistic to assume that we can sell our $350 course to 143/10,000 people?
This seems plausible.
Now, what if we were trying to sell a $50 course to 1,000/2,000?
This does not seem so realistic.
Next, is this goal relevant to us:
We are planning to earn $50,000 from an online course.
Does an online course make sense for our brand?
- Would an online course fit with our audience?
- Would anyone from our audience buy an online course?
Now that we have determined that our goal is realistic and relevant, let’s add our reasoning.
Earn $50,000 by selling a new online course (Need to sell the $350 online course to 143 of 10,000 current subscribers). This will be accomplished by creating lead magnet incentives that promote the new course and encourage course sign-ups. The lead magnet content will be promoted via social media and social media advertisements to draw in more potential customers. Because many of our subscribers have purchased or expressed interest in purchasing online courses in the past, this will be a realistic and relevant approach to reaching our audience.
T – Time-Bound
Finally, we need to give ourselves a deadline or timeframe. Again, we want to make sure we set ourselves a timeframe that is realistic. Like in the previous sections, the more realistic we can be, the more likely we are to stick to them.
With our example, it wouldn’t be very realistic to think that we could make our goal of $50,000 in one day. In this example, we are assuming this is a new(er) business but has a substantial number of followers already, we’ll set our deadline to make $50,000 over the course of 1 year.
Earn $50,000 within 1-year (by December 31st of 2020) by selling a new online course (Need to sell the $350 online course to 143 of 10,000 current subscribers). This will be accomplished by creating lead magnet incentives that promote the new course and encourage course sign-ups. The lead magnet content will be promoted via social media and social media advertisements to draw in more potential customers. Because many of our subscribers have purchased or expressed interest in purchasing online courses in the past, this will be a realistic and relevant approach to reaching our audience.
Remember: As we continue to monitor our progress for this goal, we may decide that this goal is far too easy or way too difficult to accomplish. At this point, you may need to re-assess the goal and determine whether your goal should be adjusted.
How to Start Achieving Your SMART Goals
Alright, so now you have the framework for writing your SMART Goals. This is a big first step in ensuring that you and your team can accomplish their goals this year.
Here are a few tips to help keep you on track as you begin your journey to achieve.
1. Write Your Goals Down
You hear this one all the time, “Write Down Your Goals.” This is for good reason. Sure it might help you remember to stick to your goals after you have performed the act of writing them on paper, but the statistics don’t lie.
According to a study conducted at Dominican University in California, Dr. Gail Matthews concluded that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down on a regular basis.
2. Put Your Goals Somewhere That You Will See Them Often
By putting your goals in an easy-to-spot location, you will have a constant reminder that your goals are still there waiting for you. This can be a great tactic to help hold yourself accountable.
When deciding where to place your goals, think about the areas that you frequent often. Some common places that people choose are:
- The bathroom – usually the first place people frequent after waking
- By the coffee pot – your first instinct might be to wake up and make yourself a cup of joe
- On your laptop/cell-phone background**
Ok. The last one will most likely mean that you didn’t write your goals down with pen and paper (I’m not judging). I am very tech-centric and would probably choose to put them on my phone instead of pen and paper. I personally prefer to use Trello to keep my personal and work life organized and my goals visible.
**Think of how many times you check your phone on a given day. Probably too many to count, right? By taking a picture or a screenshot of your goals, you are ensuring that you will be seeing your goals many times throughout the day. That is a constant reminder that you hopefully will not forget.
3. Set Regular Check-Ins for Yourself
Be sure that you set specific intervals for checking on your progress. This can be set to whatever intervals you choose (bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.), but BE SURE TO CHECK-IN.
Your check-in is your chance to determine whether your current plan is working or not. Here are a few things to consider during your check-ins:
- Are you on pace with your current goal (on-track)
- Are you doing better/worse than you expected?
- Are there areas you can improve upon? (this can be true even if you are exceeding your goals expectations – there can always be room for improvement)
- Where do you expect to be by the next check-in?
Set and Achieve Your SMART Goals
This year, don’t fall into the same trap of setting New Year’s Resolutions, just to give up on them 30-days in. Instead, focus on setting SMART Goals that you can actually achieve.
By setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic/Relevant, and Time-Bound, you are one step ahead of your peers and that much closer to accomplishing your goals in 2020.
What are your goals this year? And how do you plan to achieve them?
Let me know in the comments below!
If one of your goals this year is to start your own business and you don’t know where to begin, find out how to decide what business to start.
I am an entrepreneur and adventure enthusiast, looking to break free from the Nine-Five grind. I'll show you what has worked and is currently working for me, as well as what hasn't worked so well.