One of the most frustrating things in life and business is setting a goal and not seeing that goal realized over and over. The constant trying and failing can cause a person to lose motivation and hope as they see their dreams of a successful life or business get further and further away. While there are many reasons why people fail at their goals, one of those reasons may be because they set those goals incorrectly in the first place. Perhaps, those goals were so unattainable that they were nearly impossible to accomplish.
You have probably heard of the SMART method of goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each element of the SMART framework plays a crucial role in goal setting, making it a widely adopted strategy in various industries.
Today, we’ll look at the “A” that appears in the acronym and how you can make your goals more attainable, thus, more likely to be reached.
Understanding Achievable Goals
The “A” in SMART goals stands for “Achievable”. Think of it as a reality check for your goal-setting process. A good practice to have is to make sure your goals are challenging. However, the goals should still be attainable for the resources and time you have available to give to those goals. Achievability balances ambition with practicality. This will make sure that your goals are not set so high that they become demotivating or so low that they fail to inspire any real progress or development.
By setting achievable goals, you can focus your business’s efforts on something within its reach. This realism is crucial for maintaining motivation and commitment. Many entrepreneurs feel as though their businesses have potential. However, “potential” is a vague term. While it may be reasonable to set a goal for $10 million in revenue, it may not be something attainable within the first 24 months of the startup’s existence.
When goals are perceived as attainable, people are more likely to invest their time and resources. It creates a belief that their efforts will lead to success. Conversely, unachievable goals can lead to frustration, decreased morale, and the eventual abandonment of objectives.
When a goal is realistic, it’s easier to break it down into smaller, manageable tasks and milestones. This step-by-step approach enables consistent progress and provides opportunities for evaluation and adjustment along the way. Achievable goals also help in resource allocation, ensuring that time, money, and other resources are used efficiently.
Setting achievable goals contributes to personal and professional growth. Remember, while they should be realistic, they should also stretch abilities and encourage learning and development.
Achievable Goals Examples
Now that you understand the concept a little better, let’s take a look at some examples of goals that are overly ambitious and contrast those with more attainable goals. Overly ambitious goals. Overly ambitious goals are targets that are significantly beyond current capabilities and resources. They tend to be very unrealistic within the given timeframe and context. Usually, these types of goals potentially set up individuals or organizations for failure.
- Overly Ambitious Goal: Increase company revenue by 500% within one year.
- More Attainable Goal: 20-25% increase in company revenue over the next year by expanding into new markets and optimizing current sales processes.
- Overly Ambitious Goal: Become the market leader in a highly competitive industry within six months.
- More Attainable Goal: Aim to increase market share by 10% over the next 18 months.
- Overly Ambitious Goal: Launch 10 new products within the next year.
- More Attainable Goal: Launch one or two high-quality products over the next year.
- Overly Ambitious Goal: Expand globally, opening offices in over 20 countries within two years.
- More Attainable Goal: Identify 2-3 key international markets for expansion over the next two years.
- Overly Ambitious Goal: Achieve 100% customer satisfaction ratings across all products and services within the next six months.
- More Attainable Goal: Work on improving customer satisfaction by setting a target to increase the current satisfaction rating by 10-15%.
Overly ambitious goals may overlook the practical steps needed for achievement. Trying to achieve them can get frustrating over time and kill motivation.
How to Set Attainable Goals
Evaluate Your Ability to Reach the Goal
Setting achievable business goals begins with a realistic evaluation of your current capabilities and resources. It’s essential to assess the skills, manpower, technology, and financial resources available to you. Understand your strengths and weaknesses, both as an individual and as a business. If you have a goal to reach 100,000 social media followers in a year, you need to look at your ability to create content, your social media marketing budget, and your team’s availability to focus on social media growth.
This self-awareness helps in setting goals that are challenging yet attainable. For instance, a small startup with 7 people setting a goal to dominate a global market in a year might be unrealistic.
Instead, they may want to focus on more achievable targets like increasing local market share. Also, it is important to analyze the external environment. This includes market trends, competition, and economic conditions. It is not only about your capabilities, you also need to look at factors outside of your control as these factors can significantly influence your ability to achieve your business goals.
Set Fewer Goals
One of the mistakes entrepreneurs make when setting business goals is setting too many of them. Of course, entrepreneurs should have some level of ambition. However, this scattergun approach can dilute efforts due to too many objectives. Setting fewer, more focused goals ensures that attention and resources are concentrated where they can make the most impact.
To make your goals more achievable, set fewer of them. When you have fewer goals, you increase the likelihood that the goals you set are actually important. Each goal should align with the core mission and strategic vision of your business. Prioritize goals that will drive the most significant growth or improvement. This focused approach not only makes goal achievement more manageable but also allows for more meaningful progress tracking and adjustments.
Give Yourself Enough Time
Patience is a big part of the entrepreneurial experience. However, human nature drives the feelings of wanting something now. This feeling can cause leaders to rush their goal setting as well as when they want those goals to be reached. An essential aspect of setting achievable goals is taking your time in setting those goals and also giving yourself enough time to accomplish them. Unrealistic timelines can lead to undue pressure, rushed decisions, and ultimately, subpar results.
When establishing timelines, consider all the factors that could affect the progress. This would include resource availability and market conditions. You should also give time for the learning curve for any new skills or processes that need to be developed.
If you’re a new entrepreneur, you cannot expect to have the experience, knowledge, and resources of an established business. As a result, you may not be able to reach a goal as fast as a more established business or seasonal entrepreneur. Even if those goals are the same or similar.
Buffer time should also be included to account for unforeseeable delays. A well-thought-out timeline encourages steady progress and reduces the risk of burnout for yourself or team members.
Make Room for Setbacks
There are a lot of ups and downs when running a business. At times it may seem as if nothing is going your way. Because of this, you need to give yourself time for setbacks and roadblocks when setting your business goals. This will help those short-term and long-term business goals more attainable.
Rarely does the path to achieving a goal run smoothly without obstacles or delays. Anticipate potential challenges and plan contingencies for them. This could mean setting aside additional financial resources, having backup plans for critical processes, or simply adopting a flexible mindset.
Being prepared for setbacks ensures that when they do occur, they don’t derail the entire effort. Instead, they become part of the learning and growth process.
Learn from Past Failures
If you do not learn from the past, you are doomed to repeat it. This is true in life and business. If you have set goals in the past that you should’ve reached but were unable to, learn to go back and learn why those plans failed.
Was the goal unrealistic? Were there insufficient resources or poor planning? Did external factors play a significant role? This introspection helps in recognizing patterns that may impede success. Use these insights to refine your approach to goal setting. Learning from past failures not only helps in setting more achievable goals but also enhances overall strategic planning and decision-making capabilities.
Break Goals Down into Small Chunks
Breaking goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks is a highly effective strategy for setting achievable business goals. Large, ambitious goals can often seem overwhelming and distant. It is important to have big business goals and a plan to achieve them.
However, without breaking those goals down, it makes it challenging to maintain focus and motivation. By dividing a big goal into smaller steps or milestones, the path to achievement becomes clearer and more structured. Each small victory builds momentum and confidence, making the overall goal seem more attainable.
For example, if the goal is to increase annual revenue by 20%, break it down into quarterly or monthly targets. This approach allows for regular progress checks and adjustments, ensuring that the business stays on track toward achieving the larger objective.
Make Goals Meaningful
The significance of setting meaningful goals cannot be overstated. Goals should resonate with the values and vision of the business. They also need to be meaningful for the individuals working to achieve them. Meaningful goals inspire and motivate. They also provide a sense of purpose and direction. When team members understand the importance of a goal and how it contributes to the larger mission of the business, they are more likely to be committed and put in the necessary effort.
Furthermore, meaningful goals can positively impact employee morale and satisfaction, leading to a more engaged and productive workforce. Therefore, when setting goals, consider not just the financial or strategic benefits, but also how they align with the broader purpose and ethos of your business.
The importance of the SMART goal-setting method cannot be overstated. Each step in the process is as important as the previous step. This means that if you hope to accomplish your goals, you must make them achievable in some way. Setting achievable business goals can sometimes be an involved process. Doing it right requires a balance between ambition and realism. However, when done right, businesses can set themselves up for success.