As I’m writing this article, it’s two days before January 1st. The start of a new year is always a time of reflection, thinking back on your accomplishments and failures of the past year, analyzing what went right and what went wrong. It’s also an opportunity to look forward, pondering the upcoming year and trying to shape some plans to help you to achieve your goals. Spending just a little bit of time writing down some of those ideas can go a long way towards keeping you on track and using the SMART method can help you to clearly establish those plans.
The SMART framework was developed in the early 1980’s by business consultant George Doran to help business owners plan their goals for the future. This method provides guidelines to assist in organizing your thoughts and developing a blueprint to follow on your path to greater business success.
The SMART acronym was developed to provide a basic framework to help you plan for the future. It’s intended to force you to set goals that are specific in nature, realistic in scope, measurable, achievable and time related. It can help you to work out a plan and provide a pathway to achieve those goals.
Your goals should be specific, detailed and precise. Write down exactly what it is that you’re looking to accomplish and how you’re going to achieve those goals. If you’re looking to increase your gross revenue in the upcoming year, it’s not enough to simply write that down as your goal. Get really specific about your objectives. Are you looking to increase last year’s total by 10%? 50%? 100%? Figure out exactly what number you’re shooting for and work out the steps you’ll need to meet in order to get there.
If you want to increase your production by 50 more home inspections next year, that breaks down to about 1 extra inspection every week. What specific steps do you need to take in order to get one more inspection each week? Figure out what those steps will look like, write them down and start working on them.
It’s important to be able to track your progress as you work toward your goals. Business guru Peter Drucker said “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” This means that you need to keep track of your stats and evaluate how you’re doing in relation to your goals. If you don’t keep tabs on your progress, it’s difficult to know if you’re on track to reach your objectives. Monitor how well you’re staying on track and make adjustments as needed.
While tripling your gross revenue in one year is an achievement that we’d all love reach, can that really be considered a credible goal? By establishing realistic goals, you dramatically increase the possibility of reaching your targets. It’s easy to get frustrated when working towards long-term objectives, as they seem to be so far away. You can help to minimize this frustration by setting goals that are challenging but also attainable. This can often mean the difference between giving up in frustration and forging ahead. Setting achievable goals can help to keep you energized while working towards your objectives.
Having multiple goals is an admirable thing to do. But setting a crazy number of goals for the sake of just having a bunch of things written down on your list is a waste of time. Make sure that you give those goals some thought. It’s OK to begin with a large number of potential goals, but spend some time paring down your list. Decide which of those potential goals is most relevant to your success and concentrate on achieving those particular objectives. Doing a lot of different things may help you to become more diverse in your skill set, but you don’t want to end up being a jack of all trades and master of none. Concentrate on what you do best to achieve your biggest gains.
It’s always best to establish benchmarks related to your goals. Set a definitive timeline aligned with your targets, giving you a set point to be reached as you progress through the year. If one of your goals is to get an automated social media campaign started this year, set target dates by which you learn about your targeted social networks, become proficient with your new post scheduling software and learn how to produce different types of marketing content. (Or you can just set a date by which you hire somebody to do all of that for you!) Just be sure that your timeline is based on reality, what you can realistically get accomplished, and not simply on what you would like to be able to do.
We all start out each new year with the best intentions: we set goals, making resolutions that we’d love to achieve. Unfortunately, most of those resolutions end up the same: distant memories before the end of January arrives. One trick that may help is to attach some type of emotional connection to your goals. If you’d like to increase your take-home income so that you can afford to help your daughter with her college tuition, try taping a picture of your daughter to your computer, television and rear-view mirror. This can help to remind you of your goals and serve as motivation to keep working when you’re starting to slack.
Setting goals for the upcoming year is a time-honored tradition. With some advanced planning, a few prompts along the way and a little bit of luck, you can change those resolutions from wishful thinking to realistic goals. And who knows, maybe tripling your income is not out of the question after all!
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