You probably set goals for yourself every day. Whether they’re short-term (“get to work on time today”) or long-term (“lose 10 pounds by Memorial Day”), goals are a way of planning your time, directing your efforts, and reflecting on your accomplishments.
Creating a good goal isn’t always simple. Many elements go into crafting a target that will actually provide some form of validation of your effort and planning. In fact, they can be boiled down into an acronym: SMART goals.
Because it’s an acronym, you know that SMART doesn’t mean “not stupid.” (Although that helps.) Here’s one version of what it does mean (there are others):
So what do these words mean for you? Let’s take them one at a time.
- What exactly do you want to do? You must be able to clearly define your desired outcome, or you won’t know whether you got there.
- How will you know when you achieve your goal? Can it be defined by some metric or other measurement, or is it too nebulous to be tracked?
- Can you reach your goal? Even if you’ve been specific and chosen something measurable, maybe it’s too far of a stretch. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
- Does this goal actually matter? Is it relevant to your workflow or your business, or are there other areas that are more important to prioritize?
Goals are meaningless without a due date. When—specifically—do you plan to complete your goal? Even if your deadline is self-imposed, it will give you incentives to finish, or at least it will set a time to check in and see how you’re doing.
Now that we have some definitions, let’s try an example. We’ll turn the non-SMART Goal (“I want to get better at Revit”) into a SMART goal by addressing each of the acronym parts (not necessarily in order).
I plan to become an Autodesk Certified Professional in Revit at or before Autodesk University in December. (Specific and Time-Bound.) This will be measured by passing the certification exam, which tests Revit knowledge with hands-on use of the product. (Measurable.) Becoming a Certified User will help my professional development by helping me keep my skills up to date. I will also be able to use it in client proposals as an example of my qualifications. (Relevant.) To study for the test, I will use a variety of resources, including Revit training books, free classes on certification from Autodesk University, and Revit-based blogs and discussion forums. By keeping up on current developments and learning about new and classic features, I am confident that I will be able to pass the test in the fall. (Attainable.)
See? That wasn’t so hard. Sure, it’s more work than just saying “I want to get better at Revit,” but by putting a little more effort into your goal-setting, you’ve already got the beginnings of a plan to help you reach your goal.