SMARTEST Goal - Goal Setting - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely, Exciting, Shared, Tuned Up

What’s Your SMARTEST Goal?

Why is it that almost as soon as we set goals, we abandon them? It’s because they aren’t SMART.  I’ve been thinking about how to define a SMART goal for my life and career, and have realized this goal needs to be more than SMART, it needs to be a SMARTEST goal. I thought I made this up but the almighty Google showed me that others had similar ideas, although my version is slightly different.

SMARTEST goals are big and will take more than a single year to achieve. Your SMARTEST goal is your “future self” or for a business, the vision of what that business will be in 5 or 10 years.  When defined well, this goal becomes the filter through which you make all decisions and you will make continual progress over time. 


First, SMARTEST goals are specific.  If this is a business goal, it might include a geographic area or a description of your ideal customer.  Are you focused on achieving your goal internationally, or within a defined country, state, or locality?


SMARTEST goals are measurable.  You need to be able to pinpoint the moment that you reach that goal.  Avoid subjective and relative terms (i.e. “best”) and focus on what can be clearly defined.  If you can’t tell when you’ve achieved your goal, you will waste a lot of time and energy.


It may sound contradictory to say your SMARTEST goal is big, but at the same time, it needs to be achievable.  This doesn’t mean thinking small but thinking about what is truly within your control to accomplish.  For example, you may decide that you open a fast-food franchise on Mars. That is definitely a big goal.  But unless you are Elon Musk, it’s largely out of your control if and when humans get to Mars and establish enough infrastructure to make your goal viable.  Think about what you have direct control and influence over to make your goal achievable. 


Your SMARTEST goal should be relevant to you, your business, your customers, and your industry.  You could set a goal to be the top-selling VHS seller in your region. This is specific, measurable, and achievable but how relevant is that when everything is now streaming and digital?  Make sure your goal is something worth doing. 


You need to set a timeframe for achieving your SMARTEST goal.  If your goal is to “someday” do something, you’ll never do it.  There’s no urgency and you’ll just put off doing the work that needs to be done to get you to that goal.  If you say you are going to do something within 5 years, you can lay out a path of what you need to accomplish each year to build up to that goal.  As you experience incremental successes, you will stay motivated to achieve that 5-year vision.    


Your SMARTEST goal needs to be exciting for you, your staff, and your customers. People like to feel like they are a part of something bigger.  If you are not excited about achieving your goal, you’ll have a hard time staying motivated to do the work that is required.  If your staff and customers are not excited, they won’t work hard to support you in your efforts.


Building on the idea that your SMARTEST goal should be exciting, it also needs to be shared.  It needs to be known to others (i.e. friends, family, staff, customers, etc.).  Telling people your goal creates accountability, which in turn creates motivation. A shared goal means that there is common agreement and acceptance of this goal from the leadership and staff.  If your whole team isn’t in agreement on the company’s big goal, you will never accomplish it. Big goals take the work of the whole team!      

Tuned Up

Lastly, your SMARTEST goal needs to be tuned up occasionally, just like any high-performance machine.  The world is constantly changing, technology comes and goes, consumer buying patterns and preferences change, pandemics and natural disasters happen.  Goals need to be reviewed regularly to make sure they are still relevant and achievable.  Measurements need to be reviewed regularly to make sure you are making progress in the right direction. 

Adjust your goal as needed to reflect changes in social and economic conditions.  Adjust your tactics if your measurements show you are heading in the wrong direction.  During any given flight, the plane is off course 99% of the time (albeit by small margins) and the pilot’s job is constantly to make corrections to account for this.   Your goals are not something to “set and forget”.  You need to make course corrections at regular intervals to get where you ultimately want to go!