Every new year, people and organizations intentionally or unintentionally create resolutions. They set goals to plan what they want to achieve in the year. However, more often than not, these goals are abandoned or strayed away from. This is why it is necessary to adopt a proven and tested methodology to assist you in goal-setting for 2020. SMART is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound”. This methodology can help you create an actionable plan for the New Year and work towards it. Let’s analyze each element of the methodology.

S: Specific

The CFI describes this as well-defined, clear and unambiguous. When setting goals, you do not want to have fuzzy ideas or plans. You should aim for clear and particular targets in the year. It should answer the relevant W questions:  Who: Who is involved in achieving this goal?  What: What am I exactly trying to accomplish this year?  When: When do I need to achieve this goal?  Where: Where do I have to be to accomplish what I have set this year?  Why: Why am I doing this? For example: If your goal is to travel abroad for your masters, your SPECIFIC goal would look like, “I would like to be prepared to begin my M.Sc in Petroleum Engineering in USA/UK by July 2021 to improve my professional skills and get a better paying job”.

M: Measurable

Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, is often quoted with the saying, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. This is particularly true because if you are unable to determine your progress, you would not be able to ascertain where you are and determine areas of improvement. If your goal takes a few months, it would be advisable to set some milestones as you work towards the said goal. Objectives and Key Results (OKR) are a good goal measurement and management tool, so they would be inculcated here. Utilizing the previous example, Goal (Objective): I would like to begin my M.Sc in Petroleum Engineering in USA/UK by July 2021 to improve my professional skills and get a better paying job. Milestone/Key Result 1: Obtain at least 7.5 in IELTS by September 2020. Key Result 2: Submit applications to 5 universities in the USA and the UK by December 2020. Key Result 3: Prepare all necessary documentation and essays for the MSc by October 2020.
The idea behind this, once you have been able to achieve Key Results 1-3, you would have accomplished your goal/objective.

A: Achievable

More often than not, people set goals that are unrealistic. There is a common saying that, “If your goal does not scare you, it is not big enough”. It is always nice to have a lofty goal that serves as a sort of inspiration, but if that said goal is simply unattainable, what you have succeeded in doing is creating a plan that may weigh you down because of the sheer size. You need to be able to back up your goals. Here, you answer the “How”. How would you achieve this goal? If you are unable to answer this question, there is a high probability that that goal will not be met that year. For example: If you are planning an M.Sc in Petroleum Engineering in 2021 and are still in your first or second year in the university, it is not realistic. If you are planning to get the M.Sc in 2021, and you want to start a business, learn a new language, learn how to play the piano and learn to code whilst working a full-time job in 2020, that is simply unattainable.

R: Relevant

The University of California defines relevance as “focusing on something that makes sense with broader business goals”. This is more in-line with the milestones/key results (discussed under M: Measurable). When setting those, you should ask yourself if they fit in with what you intend to achieve that year. You need to prioritize. If your only personal goal for 2020 is to prepare to begin your MSc in 2021, learning how to play the piano 5 times a week is not a top priority and should be shelved, especially if it affects you trying to reach your target in the year. Remember, your free time would probably be sent reading for your exams and writing the necessary essays for your application.

T: Time-bound

It is necessary to have a timeframe for any goal you set, because not only does it make you more focused, it lets you know when you are lagging behind. Robert Herjavec best put it as, A goal without a timeline is just a dream From the example provided above, whilst preparing to go for your masters, if you do not put a time to certain events like IELTS exams or application submission, you would miss important deadlines that would defeat the entire point of setting this goal.
It is essential to plan, but it is more prudent to have a SMART goal; a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goal.

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