Beyond Traditional SMART Goals

Update Your Goal Setting Strategy

Coworkers celebrate setting and accomplishing SMART goals.
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Once upon a time, in a business management world that seems more remote with every passing day, SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals) were enough to support business success. No more.

Just as the annual performance appraisal, tied to the year's accomplishments and the annual raise, is a dinosaur, so are SMART goals as traditionally defined in goal setting exercises.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I believe in goal setting. 

Goal setting is the foundation for both personal and business success. Ideas such as setting goals, selecting a theme for your year, and picking one area of your life to work on all year provide direction for how you spend your time.

They shine a light on how you make decisions about what's important. When many activities call to you throughout your day, your written goals govern where you should expend your time and energy. They tell you what you need to accomplish first.

Write Down Your Goals

Yes, I did say - written goals. Just like a meeting didn't exist unless it has minutes, you have not deeply committed to your goals and resolutions unless you have written them down. The very act of writing out your goals is a means to hold yourself accountable for their accomplishment.

You may surprise yourself, too. When I was younger, I didn't write out my goals but I made an annual habit of writing a sentence that described what I wanted to accomplish in areas such as income, career, health, and eating.

Cleaning out a drawer a couple of years later, I found my cards and had vastly exceeded accomplishing all of my stories. You can, too.

Beyond writing down your goals, your annual story, or your resolutions, whichever you prefer, it is time, too, in the business environment existing today, to expand the meaning of SMART goals.

And, perhaps, one word per letter is no longer enough to define a useful acronym. Stretch your imagination with me as we relook at the words that define successful goals in goal setting.

SMART Acronym Newly Defined for Goal Setting

  • I'll start with S. In addition to specific, don't stretching, systematic, synergistic, significant and shifting round out the picture?
  • M means measurable, but I also recommend meaningful, memorable, motivating and even, magical.
  • A is an achievable goal but A also needs to stand for action plans, accountability, acumen and agreed-upon.
  • R means relevant, but it also stands for realistic, reasonable, resonating, results-oriented, rewarding, responsible, reliable, rooted in facts and remarkable.
  • T means time-based and it also represents timely, tangible and thoughtful.

Fast Change Requires Direction: Goal Setting

So, do you need to desert SMART goals in the current work environment? Not at all. But, you definitely need to expand their meaning if the goal-defining acronym, SMART, is to serve you well in the current and upcoming business climate for goal setting.

Events in the workplace are moving faster and faster. To stay competitive, you must shift direction, based on customer requirements, sometimes daily. Your goals need the same flexibility.

In a performance management system, this is why you review goals, at least, quarterly. Hop on the new SMART goals express, because as Alice said to the proverbial Cheshire Cat:

"'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where--' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat."

In today's competitive business climate, it does matter which way you go. The redefined SMART goals for goal setting will help you get there.

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?" Henry David Thoreau

More Resources for Goal Setting

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