We all can agree that it’s important to set goals in life.  Whether it be a personal goal to live a healthier life style or a business goal to grow revenue.  Setting goals is one thing, however developing a plan to reach them is another.  After all, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Since both life and business are a journey and not a destination, staying motivated throughout the process is sometimes the biggest challenge.

The acronym SMART has several slightly different variations, which can be used to provide a more comprehensive definition of goal setting and planning:

S – specific, significant, stretching

M – measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented

R – realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable

Having a range of goals, from ones that are extremely reachable soon, likely attainable but dependent on certain factors, and feasibly possible only when other sub-goals are reached is great strategy when considering the future.  It is also important to focus on your own trends, benchmarks, and industry standards to set goals that are both achievable and challenge you to break through to new horizons.  Let’s look at each one of these goal setting “steps” briefly.

1.  Specific

The first step is to write it down – no matter how simple it seems.   According to the Goal Band Success System, “people with written goals are 50 percent more likely to achieve them.” They also note that only 3 out of every 100 adults write their goals out on paper.  The goal should be well defined and clear to all stakeholders involved in achieving the desired result.

2. Measurable

Now that you have defined the target, you need to make sure you are on track to reaching it.  This can be accomplished through KPI monitoring, or milestone achievements, or something else.  The idea here is to know where you are and selecting key “landmarks” that identify your progress.  Having rewards upon reaching certain key milestones is also a great way to keep motivated.

3. Achievable

This may be the most important step in setting attainable goals.  Everyone must “buy-in”.  There can be no doubt in the mind of any team members here.  If you don’t believe it, don’t bother trying to achieve it.  This is the time to think about all the “what ifs” and other variables that might prohibit positive progress down the road.  Everyone involved must agree, otherwise there will be too much wiggle room for excuses later.

4. Realistic

Setting a goal to chop down a 30-foot-tall oak tree with a pair of tweezers and a roll of dental floss would not be realistic.  Bearing in mind the available resources, knowledge,  and time is essential to ensuring that goals can be met.  Providing your team with the proper tools to accomplish the tasks required will play vital role in their ability to realize success.

This is also time to set expectations regarding effort, roles, and responsibilities.  Appropriate direction should be given to each team member and none of them (including yourself) should be spread too thin.  One of the greatest benefits of having a team is the diversity of skill sets within the team itself.  Finding the right person to complete the tasks they are best suited for will drive motivation.

5. Timely

There needs to be a balance of setting enough time to get things done vs. budgeting for too much time which can lower the sense of urgency and negatively affect performance.  When my boys were little and I told them to clean their rooms I learned this lesson quickly.  If I told them it needed to be done by the end of the week they just forgot, and who could blame them.  But if I told them it needed to be done in 10 minutes they would get overwhelmed and quit before they started.  Realize what you and your team are capable of and then push those boundaries a bit to challenge the status quo.

Setting and realizing goals is an important aspect of developing, growing, or improving as a business —and as an individual. Realize that there are going to be set backs, delays, or some unexpected factor that may disrupt your initial goal.  It is okay to pivot from an original course if a more favorable option presents itself or if certain obstacles are not able to be overcome.

We will all fail at one time or another, not letting that failure define us is the key to success.  You just need to chose how you will be remembered.

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over, and over, and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. –  Michael Jordan