We all know how it goes. We start the new year with goals based on where we want to be at the end of the year. We are eager and all in… until life happens. There are various reasons our goals fail to come to fruition. Humans are known for setting unrealistic goals. All too often, we bite off more than we can chew. We’re known for setting goals that we believe we need to achieve based on societal standards, and then we don’t have the passion behind them. Even though there are 644,000,000 google results for “S.M.A.R.T. goals,” we don’t often follow this well-known practice from George T. Doran.
This will not be you this year! We have the ultimate tip to take your goals from overwhelming and unattainable to S.M.A.R.T! Now, we’re not advocating for breaking up with your goals, but we are advocating for breaking up your goals.
Make your goal as usual, but don’t stop there. Take your goal and break it up into checkpoints. Where do you need to be at the end of each quarter to achieve your goal? Each month? Each week? Maybe even each day, depending on your goal. This additional step to your goal-setting routine can satisfy every aspect of S.M.A.R.T. goals.
The practice of breaking up your goals into smaller chunks will not only test the specificity of your goal, but will also force you to create specific checkpoints.
For example, if your goal is to post more on Linkedin, you will have no idea what that means for your monthly or weekly checkpoints when you break that up. You will be forced to think about what is workable in a month and a week. You determine that 5 posts a week is feasible. Now, your goal is to post on Linkedin 5 times a week for one year.
Or, maybe your goal is to create a Standard Operating Procedure for onboarding employees. This is a classic example of a goal we set that is nearly impossible to achieve without checkpoints. The first quarter could go by before working towards this goal, and then often, we feel overwhelmed with how to accomplish our goal in time. When you break this up into monthly and quarterly checkpoints, it could look like this:
January: Interview 3 managers to gather information about what is needed for successful onboarding. Create a document with input grouped by step in the process.
February – Interview 3 new employees for feedback on their onboarding process. Create a document with input grouped by step in the process.
March – Utilize current onboarding documents and information gathered to create a rough draft of the onboarding process.
Q1: Have a rough draft of the onboarding process outlined and ready for review by a leader.
And so forth. Interviewing 3 people sounds much more doable in a month than looking at your goal of creating a full Standard Operating Procedure.
By creating your quarterly, monthly, and weekly checkpoints, you’ll have a precise gauge of your goal. Each month completed is 8.3% of your goal; if you complete your checkpoint for each month of the quarter, you’ll be 25% closer to reaching your goal.
Breaking your goals up into checkpoints gives you a different vantage point. When you look at your daily or weekly breakdown, it’s much easier to gauge if that is attainable in that specific time frame. For example, creating a Standard Operating Procedure in a year sounds doable, but when you break it up into checkpoints, you may realize you need to delegate certain tasks to someone else.
This is one of our favorite outcomes of this practice. When we create our big yearly goals, they are sometimes built on hopes and dreams. It’s where we hope to be at the end of the year. When you look at what you need to do weekly to hit that goal, your gut will tell you if this is a relevant goal for you. Does the weekly checkpoint fire you up? Are you excited to do the work because you know the ultimate goal? If not, this may not be the goal for you. Always trust your gut!
You will complete your goal by the end of the year because you’ll have a feasible amount of work you are fired up about achieving each week, month, and quarter!
Remember, it’s never too late to set goals for the year. Some goals don’t even need 52 weeks. Some goals come to light throughout the year. Regardless of when you set your goals for the year, we encourage you to add in this additional step to set yourself up for trackable success!