Beyond Traditional SMART Goals

Update Your Goal Setting Strategy to Encompass Smarter Execution

To achieve the best results in business, teams must establish and accomplish SMART goals.
••• Ariel Skelley / Getty Images

Once upon a time, in a business management world that seems more remote with every passing day, SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals) were enough to support business success. No more.

Just as the annual performance appraisal, tied to the year's accomplishments and the annual raise, is a dinosaur, so are SMART goals as traditionally defined in goal setting exercises. Now, don't misunderstand.

Goal setting is critical to both personal and career success. It's a significant factor in business success. Goal setting allows all employees to hop on board the company mission and vision and it provides purpose and direction.

Goal setting is the foundation for both personal and business success. Ideas such as setting goals, selecting a theme for your year, committing to New Year's Resolutions, and picking one area of your life to work on all year provide direction for how you spend your time.

A professional consultant who teaches about the art of achieving your goals and dreams is a deeply committed practitioner of selecting a theme for her year each year. She has had her Year of Imagination, Year of Alignment, Year of Radiance, and Year of Flourishing. She makes her annual plan around her theme.

Any practice of this type shines a light on how you make decisions about what's important. When many activities call to you throughout your day, your written goals govern where you should expend your time and energy. They tell you what you need to accomplish first. They are informed by your personal vision statement.

Experiment with different possibilities for prioritizing until you find the one that works for you. Here are additional thoughts on successful goal setting.

Write Down Your Goals

Yes, written goals. Just like a ​meeting didn't exist unless it has minutes, you have not deeply committed to your goals and resolutions unless you have written them down. The very act of writing out your goals is a means to hold yourself accountable for their accomplishment.

You may surprise yourself, too. When I was younger, I didn't write out my goals but I made an annual habit of writing a sentence that described what I wanted to accomplish in areas such as income, career, health, and eating. Cleaning out a drawer a couple of years later, I found my cards and had vastly exceeded accomplishing all of my stories. You can, too.

Beyond writing down your goals, your annual story, or your resolutions, whichever you prefer, it is time, too, in the business environment existing today, to expand the meaning of SMART goals.

And, perhaps, one word per letter is no longer enough to define a useful acronym. Stretch your imagination with me and relook at the words that define successful goals in goal setting.

SMART Acronym Newly Defined for Goal Setting

  • ​S means that in addition to specific, don't you find that stretching, systematic, synergistic, significant, and shifting round out the picture?
  • M means measurable, but I also recommend meaningful, memorable, motivating and even, magical.
  • A is an achievable goal but it also needs to stand for action plans, accountability, acumen, and agreed-upon.
  • R means relevant, but it also stands for realistic, reasonable, resonating, results-oriented, rewarding, responsible, reliable, rooted in facts, and remarkable.
  • T means time-based and it also represents timely, tangible, and thoughtful.

Fast Change Requires Direction: Goal Setting

So, do you need to desert SMART goals in the current work environment? Not at all. But, you definitely need to expand their meaning if the goal-defining acronym, SMART, is to serve you well in the current and upcoming business climate for goal setting.

Events in the workplace are moving faster and faster. To stay competitive, you must shift direction, based on customer requirements, sometimes daily. Your goals need the same flexibility.

In a performance management system, this is why you review goals, at least, quarterly. Hop on the new SMART goals express-train because, as Alice said to the proverbial Cheshire Cat:

"'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where--' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat."

In today's competitive business climate, it does matter which way you go. The redefined SMART goals for goal setting will help you get there.

"It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?" --Henry David Thoreau

What do you plan to be busy with this year? Set your SMART goals. They will enable you to accomplish your goals and dreams. They will elevate you to levels you may have never dreamed you'd reach. Best wishes for a happy profitable journey.

More Resources for Goal Setting