When trying to set a goal it is often, well more than often useful to have a guide or something that you can follow when setting an objective. This minimises the risk of setting unrealistic and unclear expectations and optimises the chance for success.

A guide for setting a goal is useful whether it be for project management, personal development or sales.

One helpful guide that we use here at Learning Cog is the mnemonic S-M-A-R-T, conforming to the words specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timed.

First of all ‘specific’ stresses that the goal needs to be specific and clear without inconsistencies rather than a general goal which does not identify a definite outcome. A specific goal should be able to tell you and possibly your team exactly what is expected and answer the 5 ‘W’ questions.

What do I want to accomplish?

Why? Specific reasons and the purpose for reaching the goal

Who is going to be involved?

Where is it going to happen?

Which attributes are important?

‘Measurable’ is important as the progress towards the goal or outcome must be able to be measured. If a goal is measurable progress towards completion will be shown and in theory knowing how much progress has been made will help to stay on track and create more motivation to reach targets and deadlines.

A measurable goal should be able to answer ‘how’ questions like:

How much?

How many?

How will you know when it is accomplished?

Making sure a goal is ‘achievable’ is arguably one of the most important parts of goal setting because if it is possible the goal can’t be achieved then really it shouldn’t be started until it can be made achievable.

When working out whether the outcome can be achieved you should ask questions like:

Is it achievable in the time you have got?

Has it been done before?

Have you got everything to be able to achieve the goal?

Also when setting an objective you must think realistically.

Have you got a realistic time frame?

What will happen when you reach the goal?

Is your team right for the project?

Lastly if you have a certain completion date or a time frame to complete your goal in then it is more likely that you will be more focussed on the goal, seeing it as urgent so prioritising and making sure that it is completed on time.

Follow this guide when setting a goal and success won’t be far away.