Lee, JarrettAbout the Author: Jarrett Lee is a Research Associate Intern working with me at Lighthouse Research. His research focuses on case studies of companies that successfully deliver results on their talent and learning transformation projects. He is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Communication Arts as well as a Master’s of Science in Human Resource Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. 

Goal setting is one of the most popular and talked about HR topics. Goal setting is unique in that it is directly involved in all aspects of life. Goals can be career-based, family-oriented, or even personal. Larger goals such as career goals may take years or even your lifetime to accomplish, while smaller goals may only take weeks or days. Regardless of whether it is professional or personal, all successful people set goals.

So what is goal setting? Goal setting is the process of identifying something you want to achieve and an end result you will reach. How do you go about setting your goal? One commonly used tool for setting goals is the mnemonic SMART.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

The Six W’s of Goal Setting

Specific goal setting refers to the six “W” questions: who, what, when, where and why. Setting specific goals can increase your chance of accomplishment and help the make the goal real to you. Your goal must also be measureable in some way to determine accomplishment. It is also best to track your progress continuously. This will help keep you focused on accomplishing your goal and show how much you have already accomplished.

When setting your goal, make sure it is attainable. Goals will only be accomplished if they are realistically possible. Setting unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for failure. Goals should also be relevant to your situation. Inconsistent or irrelevant goals will not provide any real benefit, even if you accomplish them. Lastly, your goals should be time-bound; setting a time specific deadline will create a sense of urgency and help keep you motivated to accomplishing to your goals.

Take Action on Your Goals

Using these five components of goal setting help you specify a goal, determine if it’s attainable and realistic, measure your progress and set a deadline for achievement. It is also important to remember while SMART goals can help you set your goal, it takes determination to accomplish your objectives. Goal setting is an ongoing process, and while your end goal may not change your steps to accomplishment just might.

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