There are lots of techniques that can help you with setting goals. At the same time, we keep failing our goals. In my experience, this is mostly because the goals were not realistic or not specific enough. Another big reason is that we have so much on our plate and goals are mostly an important, not urgent activity.

Working with SMART-goals is one way to make sure the chance that you’ll complete your goal is a bit bigger. By investigating five properties, you'll flesh out the details for your goal which should help you complete it.

  • Specific. A good goal is really specific in what exactly you want to reach. “Become a better leader” is not specific. “Schedule 3 meetings with my leadership coach to talk about coaching” is a lot better.
  • Measurable. If a goal is clearly defined, is it really easy to see if the goal is completed or not. “Build a great new website” is vague. “Build a new website which attracts at least 2k visitors per day” is measurable.
  • Achievable or attainable. A goals should be something you can complete, but an ideal goal is something that helps you grow in the direction you want to grow too. It should be just within your reach.
  • Relevant. Goals in itself are great, but by answering the relevancy for your goal, you check if the goal fits within your larger body of work: is this something you want to spend significant time on? Is this a worthwhile thing to work on?
  • Timely. Finally, I believe goals only work when you set a deadline. This allows you to measure progress. I know lots of people that do their best work when the deadline approaches.

By splitting your goal into these components, you’re covering a lot of the possible pitfalls that could cause you to fail.

I found that the most important part of completing a goal is making sure you are really specific in what you want to do, and breaking this up in small parts. Starting with SMART will give you a firm foundation to build on and to actually following through.

As a leader, you can help the people around you by asking questions related to the SMART framework when they’re committing to projects or goals. Especially relevancy is something that can be hard to see for the person that is formulating his goal. You could make a huge difference in this area.