Goal Setting is S.M.A.R.T Business

Tools of the Trade - By: Steve Pitcairn
Business Coaching Article | Ten Principles of Leadership

Goal setting is as important in business as it is in life, and it is the most common subject in books on business success. These books touch upon setting both long-term goals and short-term goals for business, as well as specific personal and lifetime goals.
The benefits of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results oriented, Time-framed goals (S.M.A.R.T goals) have been written about for years. Goal setting is a powerful process – one that turns vision into achievable, actionable things.

It’s also the common denominator of successful businesses and individuals.

Despite obvious value of goal setting, experience shows that some people are good at setting goals and sticking with them to achieve great results, while others can’t keep a New Year’s resolution to stop smoking for two days in a row.

Failure to set goals can be seen as a fear of failure. It is, in fact, a blow to an individual’s integrity when goals are not reached. When someone makes and keeps commitments, such as setting and achieving goals, it reflects a certain amount self-trust.

Achievement boosts confidence in the ability to make and keep commitments. When a person does not achieve a goal, there is a loss of that confidence.

There are many reasons why a person fails to achieve set goals. Sometimes, the goals are unrealistic. New Year’s resolutions are typical examples. It’s not easy to suddenly change eating habits and an exercise regimen just because the calendar changes. It’s like expecting a child that’s never ridden a bike to suddenly jump on and ride away, or a expecting a runner to complete a marathon without months of training.

These goals are based on illusion with little regard to natural growth. A baby must crawl before he starts to walk.

What are the best ways to set and achieve goals? As Stephen R. Covey writes in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of one’s destination. It means to know where one is going so that the person can better understand where he is now and so that the steps he takes are always in the right direction.”

An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal might look something like the following:

My goal is to maintain a healthy body.

So that:
I can be fit to do the things I enjoy.
I can be an example to my children in health management.
I can build my personal character strength.

Good Nutrition: I will increase my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and decrease my intake of sugar, fats, salt and red meat.
Physical fitness: I will exercise aerobically three times a week for 30-minute periods.
Focus: I will be aware of my body and look out for any health problems.

Focusing on smaller, short-term goals and achieving success in those areas will give an individual the confidence to set other goals.

And it is important to set new goals based on the S.M.A.R.T. principle to have the best chance of achieving success.