Saturday, 26 October 2013

SMART Goal Setting

Ever heard of SMART goal setting? If not, I recommend that you read on. 
Without a doubt, goal setting, particularly early on in a career will give you much needed direction and something to work towards/achieve. Unfortunately, not all managers can be relied upon to set goals or objectives, so instead check out this quick guide and set them for yourself! 

SMART goals are:

Time bound

As a guideline use SMART to set your goals, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. I’ve found goal setting to be integral to the early stages of my career. Every six months I set myself goals, aim to achieve them and review them. In my role particularly, I have found it important to set goals. Unlike other media roles, a PA doesn’t have an assumed progression like say a marketing assistant to a marketing executive. Instead, I set myself goals, to give me some direction and encourage my thoughts about how I would like to progress in the future. Even if your role is not like mine and does have a specific career path to follow, goals are still important to progress and develop in an organisation. 

However, if you're going to start setting yourself goals, you need to ensure that you set them correctly (using SMART). If there’s one thing you need to understand about SMART goals it's that they need to be specific and should be based on the ‘how’ not the ‘what’. That is the difference between goal setting and SMART goal setting. Here’s an example of what I mean. A goal that wouldn’t be considered SMART is ‘I would like a career change’. It is not specific enough as it only starts with the ‘what’. Instead think about the ‘how’ you are going to get there, e.g. ‘to work with people in departments x, y and z, to establish myself and get my name recognised’, could be one aspect of how you are going to achieve that greater long-term goal of a career change. Thus, aim to make your goals as specific as possible.

Once you have a specific goal, the rest of the criteria should be relatively easy to check off. Next, measurable just means how are you going to measure your goal or how are you going to know that you’ve achieved it. Then, as long as the goals are achievable and realistic there’s only one criteria left to cover - time bound. It’s vitally important that each goal set is timed. As I’ve already said, I like to set my goals every six months, so after six months I review them, check them off if I’ve achieved them, or cross them off if they’re no longer relevant.

Once you're happy with your goals (don't set yourself too many), commit to them and don't forget about them!  After your chosen time period, review them, celebrate any achievements and then create more goals. The great thing about setting SMART goals is that they give you something to aim for and achieve. It encourages you to think about the direction of your career, which is crucial to starting out in any organisation.

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