“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no direction.” Baltasar Gracian
If you tell yourself ‘tomorrow I will manage my time more effectively and get more done’ without any sense of direction of the why or how, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You will need to set S.M.A.R.T goals to ensure that you organize your time effectively and concentrate on actions which will help you reach the desired goals more effectively (Detailed goal construction is a topic I will cover in the coming weeks). Specific.Measurable.Attainable.Realistic.Time goals provide a structure which helps us reach our desired outcome in a more effective manner.
Specific – You will need to answer 5 basic questions when setting a goal:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- When do you need to accomplish it by?
- Where are you going to accomplish the goal?
- Who is going to be involved in helping you accomplish the goal.
- Why are you wanting to accomplish this goal?
These questions will cover broad goals such as “I want to setup a business” to something along the lines of “By Dec 1st 2008,I will establish a consultancy practice with Mark Allen to provide services related to recruitment process management to help companies recruit more efficiently in Singapore.”
Measurable – When you set a goal you need to keep constant track of its development and progress. You will need to ask yourself the following questions (questions relate to example goal stated above):
- How many partners do you want in the firm by Dec 30 2009?
- How much revenue do you estimate in the first quarter of 2009?
These questions will help you set up benchmarks for your goals to ensure that you continuously monitor your progress to stay on time.
Attainable – Any goal that you set for yourself is attainable if you work towards it. If the goal I set for myself is “I want to list my business on the stock exchange.” This is a stretch goal which requires many smaller goals to enable you to reach the final goal. Making sure you develop the competencies and satisfy the requirements of your stretch goals through smaller goals is essential in making them attainable.
Realistic – When you set goals they have to be based on the fact that you have the motivation and ability to work towards them. If you truly believe that you have what it takes to reach your goal then you should go for it. Setting goals such as “I want to go play tennis every morning at 6am” if your day ends at 3am on a regular basis will not be a very realistic goal.
Time Specific – Goals need to have a specific time frame to make them effective. A goal such as “I want to lose weight” compared to a specific goal such as “By Jun 1st 08 I want to lose 10 lbs which will be done by going to the gym 3 times a weeks starting from 10th Feb 08” is more effective . Such a goal will be much easier to process and implement than the broader unclear one.
I make goals for myself on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. These goals could be sub-goals of stretch goals which I set for myself. Working towards stretch goals on a regular basis enables you to allocate time more effectively to reach them in the stipulated period.