Goal setting helps achieve results. A goal is the object of ambition or effort. It is more specific than a resolution. While a resolution says which behaviours you will modify, a goal adds details and measurable results to make things more specific. At KATA Accounting Solutions Professional Corporation, we recommend setting goals using the SMART method.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This was developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham and published in a 1981 article, which is paraphrased in this blog post. For a goal to be a SMART goal, it needs to meet all of the criteria.
Goals need to be set for specifics. Set something that is clear and helps you understand precisely what you’re trying to accomplish. What are you trying to do? Who is going to be your customer? Why are you trying to grow your business? The more specific you can be about the goal, the more likely you’ll be able to achieve it.
For a goal to be effective, it needs to be measured.
That which can be measured can be managed.– William Thomson
If you can’t measure the goal you’re trying to achieve, how will you know if you’ve achieved it? Consider how you will measure your success and assess whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.
A goal needs to be something possible to achieve. If you don’t have a way to achieve the goal, then there is some work to be done before you can consider the goal attainable.
For a goal to be realistic, it has to be attainable by the team and the tools you have in place now. If you don’t have the resources to reach the goal, it’s better to make it a longer-term goal and do the pre-work more immediately. This could include getting the right team and the right tools to help you get where you want to go.
All goals need a deadline to be effective. Goals that have no deadline are ambitions and are definitely not SMART goals. For instance, “I will generate $1 million in sales,” without a deadline, means you could take the next 50 years to generate those sales. “I will generate $1 million in sales in 20YY” has the potential to be a SMART goal.
Almost SMART Goals
“I will lose 10 pounds by June 1st, 20YY.”
This goal is specific and measurable and has a deadline. Whether or not it is attainable and realistic depends on your personal health situation and the environment in which you surround yourself.
“I will increase revenue by 15% in 20YY.”
This seems to be a SMART goal at first, but without understanding the resources you have, it’s unclear if this is realistic or attainable.
“I will hire two new people this year.”
This goal is dangerous. The underlying questions of why and who must be thoroughly considered before hiring decisions. Do you really need two more people? What skills are they bringing to the table? How much revenue will they earn for you through their duties? Where will you find them? How much will you pay them? Is your business still profitable with these new expenses?
What’s Your Why?
Understanding your strategy and motivation are the first steps to setting SMART goals. Now is a great time to sit back and think about the big picture of what your business does.
- Why does your business exist?
- Why does it operate in your chosen manner?
- Why do you choose to work with the staff you have?
- Why are you continuing to do business with your niche of customers?
A powerful why will lead you to great things. A weak reason can be a recipe for disaster.
The following are some examples from Lifehack.org about how to be successful in achieving goals. We’ve added what we feel is most important:
Make Sure You Are Setting a SMART Goal
SMART goals are specific, realistic, and measurable.
Write Your Goals Down
Numbers don’t lie. When a goal is written down, it is far more likely to be achieved. If it’s just in your head, it’s just an idea.
Have a Goal Setting System
When and how often will you review the goals you set? When and how often will you set new goals? What measurable intelligence do you have (or can develop) that will help you set better goals?
Plan on How to Achieve a Goal
A goal without a plan, even a SMART goal, will be extremely difficult to achieve. What do you have to do to achieve the goal? Creating a step-by-step plan will be instrumental in helping you get there.
Seek Expert Help
If your goal is to increase revenue with sales, and you don’t have a clear understanding of your cost structure, you should review it. And if you still aren’t sure, look for management accounting help.
Be Accountable for the Goal
Whether that is to your spouse, yourself or an accountability partner, accountable people are more likely to achieve their goals.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Oddly, you won’t achieve all the goals you set for yourself this year. Dwelling in failure is demotivating and won’t help you move forward. Instead, seek to understand why you fell short and if your goal was a SMART goal in the first place. You may need to reset that goal and put tools in place to get there next year.
Surround yourself with positive people and thoughts whenever possible. This can really help motivate you to achieve what you’ve set out to do. Surrounding yourself with negative people can damage your self-esteem, confidence and ability to achieve your goals. Even if they mean well.
Although you want to surround yourself with positive people who give you energy, people who always say yes can be misleading. Allow your people to provide constructive feedback in a positive way.
Someone who tells you everything is wrong with no solutions isn’t helping you. Someone who always says yes isn’t helping, either. Someone who sees opportunities and offers solutions to problems is a good one to have around.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Always celebrate what you do well. This may mean different things to different people, but it’s important to sit back and consider what you achieved. Where do you want to go next?