SMART method: Set and achieve goals strategically

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SMART method: Set and achieve goals strategically

Whether at work or in your private life - if you have a plan, you usually have a goal. However, the formulation of the goal is often underestimated. If the goal is too imprecise, the whole process can quickly backfire. In any case, it is important that you know exactly where you want to end up. The clearer the goal, the easier it will be to get there. Here the SMART Method Remedy. In project management as well as in Self-Management it is a popular tool to facilitate the planning of a project and to contribute to its success. We explain to you what the SMART method is all about, how to define your goals SMARTly and how to achieve them!

A definition: What is the SMART method?

The SMART Method is a strategic tool to Set goals correctly and achieve them. For you to succeed in a project, a clear objective is the be-all and end-all - but this is exactly what many people underestimate. Both private and professional projects often fail because the goals are not clearly defined. And if you don't know where you want to end up in the end, the road there is all the more bumpy. 

This is where the SMART method comes into play and helps you to achieve your desired Have goals clearly in mind and to illuminate the path in more detail. The approach was first presented in a management context by George T. Doran in 1981. Later, Edwin Locke and Gary Latham developed this formula to success. 

"SMART" - it's a Abbreviation for a total of five criteriathat you should take into account when formulating your goals. The more precisely you define your goals, the easier it is to implement them. 

Formulate goals SMART: This is what the abbreviation stands for

Each of the letters stands for a criterion that is is important for the successful implementation of your project. If you formulate your goals according to these criteria - i.e. SMART - it is much more likely that the desired results will be achieved in the end. We explain what SMART actually stands for.

S - specific

Formulate goals like this specific and concretethat you know exactly what is meant and that ambiguities are ruled out - and best of all in a nutshell. Generalizations and vague phrases will get you nowhere with the Objectives don't go any further. Because then you quickly lose sight of what is actually important or what you are working towards. This first criterion is at the same time the most important of the five. If the overall goal is already clearly formulated, it will be easier for you to determine the further framework conditions. 

M - measurable

Formulate your goals measurableso that you can check the success of your project afterwards. Depending on the goal, you can qualitative or quantitative criteria formulate, with which the results can be objectively controlled. Often in this context with concrete figures and values worked. 

A - attractive

Formulate your goals attractiveso that you actually want to achieve them and have the necessary Motivation for it. Not every project is easy and - as the saying goes - it's not easy. nothing ventured, nothing gained. All the more important in this context is a as positive as possible formulated goal that arouses your ambition.  

R - realistic

Formulate your goals Realisticso that you can implement them at all. In principle, there is nothing wrong with striving for something greater and not being satisfied with the smallest success. But if goals are completely unrealistic, the project is often doomed to failure from the start - and that can quickly lead to a loss of success. Frustration ...and we'll take care of it. Here it is necessary to good compromise to find. The goal should be challenging, yet neither too tangible nor too distant.

T - terminated

Formulate your goals terminatedbecause every project needs a time frame or a deadline. If there is no clear deadline, the motivation to do something is immediately much smaller and in the worst case you postpone the whole thing until there is really no more time. The scheduled time also represents the point at which it is checked whether everything you have planned has been implemented.  

SMART method: clever formula for success

Examples of goal setting with the SMART method

Now that you've learned about the individual factors of the SMART method, we'll show you a few concrete examples of SMART goals. 

Example 1: "I want to find a new job." This formulation of your career goals is not very helpful and you need to define the framework more precisely.

  • Specific: I want to find a job as a business coach.
  • Measurable: I'll write an application every week. 
  • Attractive: I'll find a job I like.
  • Realistic: I'll find a new job within six months.
  • Terminated: I'll find a new job by July 31. 

So: Within the next six months, I will write an application every week to find a business coaching job I enjoy by July 31.

Example 2: "I want to live healthier." This can mean a lot of things, and it's not very specific yet. So it's hard to determine where you start and what you actually want to achieve. If you want to lose weight and get fitter, the goal could look like this.

  • Specific: I want to exercise more and lose weight. 
  • Measurable: I want to go to the gym twice a week and lose three kilos.
  • Attractive: I'm losing weight to feel absolutely comfortable in swimwear on my vacation. 
  • Realistic: I give myself three months to reach the weight I want.
  • Terminated: I'm taking off until the holiday starts on August 1. 

So: I'm going to the gym twice a week for the next three months to lose three kilos by August 1 and feel absolutely comfortable in my swimwear on holiday. 

How to achieve SMART goals

If your goals are formulated SMART, the first step towards implementing your plan is already done. But there are a few more tips that will help you achieve your goals.

  1. Hold your target in writing and hang the note up in a clearly visible place within your own four walls. This way, you'll always have your to-dos in view and will be reminded of them regularly. This helps you to stay motivated.
  2. Formulate your goals in the First personso that the process is tailored to you alone and you can become more involved with the project. identify and deal with it.
  3. Set Interim goals and smaller milestones. An overarching, big goal seems more tangible and less intimidating if you break the journey down into smaller stages. Identify intermediate goals that need to be achieved. This way you can already small successes celebrate. 
SMART method in self-management or business

The advantages of the SMART method

Basically, the SMART method is a great tool to significantly facilitate the setting and implementation of objectives. This applies to private projects as well as to project management in a company. By the concrete formulation of the desired results, the way there is facilitated and you get the perfect starting point for planning of what you're about to do. 

If several people are working to achieve the goal, for example in a company, SMART formulated milestones are a great help for employees who are struggling without Priorities and individual milestones quickly lose themselves in their tasks. 

Another important aspect is the Measurability of the objectives. The clear criteria not only increase the Probability of successAt the end, you can also check exactly whether and to what extent you have achieved your goals. This knowledge helps you with future projects further to define the results even more clearly and work towards them more efficiently. 

The advantages at a glance:

  • You have a better handle on even complex projects.
  • You have your goals concretely in mind and know where you want to go.
  • It's easier for you to plan and implement your way to the finish line.
  • You can set priorities and milestones more easily. 
  • You feel more motivated because you know why you're doing it. 
  • You learn from current projects and draw conclusions for future projects.

Disadvantages and risks of the SMART method

As with many management methods, you must remember that the SMART method is primarily a theoretical model acts. Are you thinking too rigid and obsessive in the individual categories, this increases the pressure to perform and ultimately makes it more difficult to achieve the goal. There is a risk that you are too focused on the criteria and the achievement of the goal, and thus the actual action and lose sight of the way to the goal. Furthermore, in addition to the five factors of the SMART method, in reality there are many other aspects that are important in the implementation of projects. These cannot be covered by such a model. 

Critics say that the SMART method Mediocrity encourages, as goals should always be set realistically. In many contexts, the model leaves no room for larger, visionary ideas. If the desired results are not set challengingly or ambitiously enough, the motivation to work towards them can also be reduced. There is a relatively fine line here - which is why a great deal of attention should be paid to this when formulating goals. 

It's basically not that simple, to harmonise the five criteria and equally important. It can quickly happen that you place more value on one aspect, but as a result, another comes up short. Here, the aspects "attractive" and "realistic" often get in each other's way. Goals usually become more attractive when you increase the demands and want to achieve great things. However, this often reduces the feasibility of the project, which in turn can cause frustration and jeopardize the process.

The disadvantages at a glance:

  • Implementation is made more difficult when you think too much in terms of categories.
  • Criteria get in each other's way if they are not carefully defined.
  • If the goals are not very ambitious, the motivation decreases.
  • There are many other factors that contribute to the success of a project.
  • The SMART method considers mainly mediocre and hardly visionary goals.
  • The pressure to perform increases and with it the risk of frustration. 

The SMART method as an instrument in coaching

At Coaching is about helping clients to enable people to help themselvesto harness their resources and make them provide directional support. Here, too, goals play an essential role. With what concern does the client come to the coach? Does he want to personal development, change his habits, live a healthier life? Does he want to professionally be more successful and promote his career? As a leader, does he want to move his company and his employees forward? There are countless possibilities, but clear objectives are essential everywhere

To ensure that coach and client are really on the same page and talking about the same goal, the SMART method is also extremely useful in the coaching field. Especially in the Business Coaching and in corporate development, the method is in great demand. With the help of the model, the framework conditions can be defined and the individual aspects can be precisely illuminated. This facilitates the coaching in the next step and promises success in achieving exactly what the client wants. 

Coaching with the SMART method

Greator Coach Training: SMART goals help you here too

If you Become a coach would like, is our Training as a coach the right starting point for you. In a holistic approach, we enable you to, yourself and to be a good coach for other people and to achieve positive changes in private and professional life. The SMART method is very useful hereIn this way you will learn to set and achieve your personal goals in a more concrete way and you will be able to better understand the goals of your future clients. 

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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