Succeed in 2024! Learn How To Set SMART Goals
A chalkboard illustration outlines what it means to set SMART goals.

Goals are vital for success, both in business and in personal life. However, it’s essential to have a structured approach to achieving your goals. For this reason, it is often beneficial to set “SMART” goals. When you set SMART goals for the year (and beyond), you’ll give direction to your efforts, and ultimately be able to reap the benefits of your hard work.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals are:

  • Specific. They are clearly defined. They make it easier to focus efforts and feel truly motivated. For instance, “I want to hire three data analysts” is a more specific goal than “I want to grow my IT team this year.”
  • Measurable. They can be easily measured so that you can track progress and stay motivated. 
  • Achievable. They are realistic and attainable so that you’re not setting yourself up for frustration. On the other hand, they also challenge you to step outside your comfort zone.
  • Relevant. They are relevant to the direction you want your life or career to take. 
  • Time-bound. They have a deadline or target date. This keeps you accountable and helps to prevent procrastination.

In many cases, SMART goals are used for short-term planning. They tend to be more tactical in nature than they are strategic; in other words, they are concrete, achievable, and are used to improve performance in a specific area over a relatively short period of time.

On the other hand, some goals may take longer to achieve. These goals are known as “BHAGs.”

What Are BHAGs?

Apart from SMART goals, at The Doyle Group we also believe that it’s important to set BHAGs — that is, Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These goals are:

  • Big. They are large in scope and ambition and aim at something that’s especially significant.
  • Hairy. They can be challenging or outright intimidating in nature.
  • Audacious. They are bold, daring, and innovative. They “push the envelope” and shake up the status quo.
  • Goals. Despite their size, these are still specific, measurable objectives that are relevant to your values. 

BHAGs are long-term goals, usually expressed in a time frame of anywhere from 10 to 30 years. They are highly strategic and visionary, and are intended to inspire and motivate. If SMART goals can be likened to climbing a steep nearby hill, then BHAGs are like hiking towards an enormous mountain in the distance, with the intention of one day reaching the top.

While SMART goals may be achievable within days, weeks, or months, BHAGs are designed to change the very nature of a business, or a person’s life trajectory. They aim for radical shifts rather than incremental improvements. Examples of how you can brainstorm BHAGs include vision boards and strategic planning sessions.

Best Practices for SMART Goals and BHAGs

One of the essential elements that make up successful SMART goals and BHAGs is a balanced view of your time frame. In other words, you hold yourself accountable to the deadlines you set, while understanding that not all goals can be accomplished within days or weeks.

Many people keep themselves accountable by making their goals as visible and transparent as possible. For instance, at The Doyle Group, we put up vision boards that our team members can constantly see and use as a reference. You may even choose to save your goals on a custom screensaver, so they’re always there when your computer screen goes into sleep mode; or as your phone’s background or lock screen. Of course, sharing your goals with friends, family, and coworkers is another great way to keep yourself accountable — and receive that extra support you need.

It’s also helpful to break down your big goals into smaller, actionable components that are easier to accomplish. For example, if you want to change your entire career trajectory, you may decide to set smaller self-development goals, such as completing a certification course. Start small, and build on the foundation you lay with your initial achievements.

Rewarding yourself for reaching certain milestones is yet another way you can maintain strong motivation. You may decide to treat yourself to a nice meal, a trip to the spa, or even a vacation once you meet a particularly challenging objective. Rewarding yourself like this can provide the impetus for continued progress towards your ultimate goal.

Finally, keep in mind that there will inevitably be setbacks along the way. Reaching goals is usually not a straight-line journey; rather, you may find yourself repeatedly taking two steps forward and one step back. If so, don’t be discouraged! Keep referring back to your “roadmap,” and stay the course. Remember that any progress is worthy of celebration, and most setbacks are temporary.

How You Can Set and Track SMART Goals

Here are just a few examples of how you can develop the right goals for yourself, and then track your progress:

  • Vision boards. Think about what’s most important to you, either personally or professionally. Create a collage of images or words that represent your aspirations, and keep it in a spot that’s highly visible for you — like your office, or the background on your phone or PC.
  • Strategic planning. Every once in a while, engage in some strategic planning. For instance, create a plan at the start of each year for what you want to accomplish, and then check on your progress at the mid-point of the year. This is a best practice that we consistently implement at The Doyle Group.
  • Calendar dates. Select specific dates on your calendar as focal points. Define which goals you’d like to accomplish by each date.
  • Set an image or word or feeling as your “theme” for the year. This is what best represents what you hope to accomplish for the year.
  • Host a family or friend session to set goals together. Discuss with those nearest and dearest to you. This is a great way to stay accountable, and you can even ask them for honest feedback on your progress.

At The Doyle Group, we strongly encourage the use of SMART goals for short and mid-term improvement and BHAGs for long-term achievement. If you need a reliable partner to help you achieve your professional objectives, reach out to our team today to see how we can help. Finally, keep aiming high; and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

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