The difference between a dream and a goal: Dreams are visions of what you want to achieve or who you want to be. Goals are clear, specific and measurable and they have a deadline.
A goal is a written statement that clearly describes certain specific actions or tasks with a measurable end result and a clear deadline.
To make a goal real and tangible, it must be written. This will serve as a reminder to you and others of what you intend to accomplish. It also serves as a point of reference for you to monitor and evaluate as you progress. Making goals public also increases your commitment to the goal.
Goals must be specific. By clearly defining your goal, you eliminate any possible misunderstanding as to what needs to be accomplished.
In order to improve or to track your progress, your goal must be measurable. This ensures that it will be clear once that goal has been accomplished. If you can’t measure a goal, chances are it will not be met, or you won’t even know when you’ve met it.
Every goal must have a clear deadline. This will encourage a sense of urgency and give more clarity to what needs to be accomplished.
Why are goals important?
- Goals motivate you to work towards something
- Goals make you accountable
- Goals challenge you to be your best
- Goals increases your pride and confidence when they have been completed
- Goals help improve and correct deficiencies in performance
What are SMART goals?
A specific goal will usually answer the five “W” questions:
- What: What do I want to accomplish?
- Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
- Who: Who is involved?
- Where: Identify a location.
- Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
If a goal is not measurable, it is not possible to know whether a team is making progress toward successful completion. Measuring progress is supposed to help a team stay on track, reach its target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs it on to continued effort required to reach the ultimate goal.
A measurable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Goals must be realistic and attainable. While an attainable goal may stretch a team in order to achieve it, the goal is not extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities and skills to reach them. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.
An attainable goal will usually answer the question:
- How: How can the goal be accomplished?
A relevant goal must represent an objective that the goal-setter is willing and able to work towards. This does not mean the goal cannot be high. A goal is probably relevant if the goal-setter believes that it can be accomplished. If the goal-setter has accomplished anything similar in the past they may have identified a relevant goal.
A relevant goal will usually answer the question:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
It is important to set a timeframe for your goals, giving them a target date. A commitment to a deadline helps a team focus their efforts on the completion of the goal on or before the due date. This part of the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria is intended to prevent goals from being overtaken by the day-to-day crises that invariably arise in an organization. A time-bound goal is intended to establish a sense of urgency.
A time-bound goal will usually answer the question:
- What can I do 6 months from now?
- What can I do 6 weeks from now?
- What can I do today?