Achieve goals the SMART way

Achieve goals the SMART way

Create goals that will allow you to see results

August 27, 2018

Raise your hand if you’ve ever set a goal and didn’t quite achieve it.

Many methods exist for goal setting. You might even be familiar with the most common approach—the SMART goal. You might even think you know all about SMART goals and how to set them.

But go back to the first line of this article. If we know how to set goals, and we know what’s arguably the best goal-setting method out there, why aren’t we successful with 100% of our goals 100% of the time?

Because how you set goals is just as important as the goal itself. Let’s look at each element of a SMART goal:

► Specific. When you set a specific goal, you should know exactly what is expected both in your behavior and in the specific area you reference. Other behavior words that work well for goal setting include revise, change, build, execute, produce, or make.

► Measurable. This can be a tricky piece of the goal-setting puzzle. It may be tempting to make the measurement generic, like getting faster at a certain behavior.

But it’s much more powerful and measurable to use a quantifiable metric such as, “I’ll decrease the time I spend balancing my drawer by three minutes.” When that goal becomes an easy target, you can continue to adjust the measurements to keep challenging yourself.

Achievable. Goals too often are unrealistic—especially New Year’s resolutions. People zone in on a perceived flaw or bad habit and make a goal that’s unattainable.

It can be demotivating to set a high goal and not make it. It’s better to start with a small, achievable goal and celebrate when you get there. For instance, rather than saying you’ll complete all assigned training before anyone else on your team, aim to complete one course per month. The goal is still a challenge, but your goals will be achievable.

► Results-oriented. Focus on what will fulfill a need for you as well as for your department, your branch, or the credit union. If your branch wants to resolve member concerns with the first member contact, you could set a personal goal to resolve one problem each day without your supervisor’s assistance.

► Time bound. Why is this so important? I’ll tell you later!

All kidding aside, you can set the best goal, but without a time frame outlining when you’ll start and achieve your goal, you can end up putting it off indefinitely. That’s not only discouraging for you, it can also put stress on your team when your goal is part of the bigger picture.

Putting this all together is now a snap. Look at this example:

I will create [a specific action] a three-item to-do list [achievable] every morning [measurement] starting Monday [time frame].

In the example, it will be easy to tell if I’m successful. In fact, I’ll know by Tuesday if I made it or not. And if I didn’t quite hit my target, it’s easy to tweak each element until I’m successful more often.

ANGELA PRESTIL is vice president of business development for Credit Union National Association. Contact her at 608- 231-4233 or