Work SMART er, Not Harder

Many of us grew up hearing the phrase Work smarter, not harder, which is a concept of thinking about things before you actually take action. In construction they say, measure twice, cut once. In arguments they say, think before you speak. Throughout business and throughout life, the wiser among us have been trying to impart this wisdom. And with 2021 now HERE, let’s take the time to strategize where we are individually, as a team, as a company and as a world. So how do we set these SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Be Specific with Goals


What do you truly want to accomplish, specifically? Like writing a mission statement for your company or putting a title on a paper, this is the Title of your goal. To assist you in  formulating these specific goals, let’s think about it in terms of these six questions.


  1. Who should be involved to achieve these goals? This is especially important if your whole team is involved.
  2. When do you want to complete these goals? More about this under ‘Time-Bound‘, but it’s prudent to have a broad timeframe before you get to the next steps.
  3. What are you hoping to accomplish? Be detailed and specific.
  4. What problems may arise? Identifying potential hazards can really help determine if a goal is even possible.
  5. Where will this take place? If location is an important piece of the puzzle
  6. Why are you doing this? What’s the purpose of the goal? If you’re self-employed, the answer will probably be to drive the business forward. But try to make this a more-specific objective. For example, ‘to grow profits by 5% each month’ or ‘to add 5 new leads each week’.



Set Measurable Goals

Measuring Goals Graph

It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to keep your focus, meet deadlines, and feel the excitement of progressing closer and closer to achieving those goals.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s the quantity?
  • How do I know when it is accomplished?

The question of ‘Is this measurable’ is important because it defines the goal as something you can, in fact, complete. This keeps abstract or undefinable goals out, and helps you to streamline your goals more efficiently. For example, saying ‘My goal is to be stronger,’ is a good goal to have, but how do you measure that? Making sure the goal is measurable is saying, ‘I want to be stronger based on how much weight I can lift. So, I want to be able to bench press 200 lbs.’

Make Achievable Goals

Achievability is found between dreams and reality

We need to be SMART. Achievable goals focus on what you can do to make it attainable and whether these goals are even possible. (I shouldn’t set my goal of becoming Mr. Universe right now, I don’t even have any visible muscle yet.) The goal is meant to inspire motivation, not discouragement so don’t overset the bar. Think about how to accomplish the goal and if you have the tools/skills needed. If you don’t currently possess those tools/skills, consider what it would take to attain them and whether attaining them is possible within your set timeframe.

Ask yourself:

  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as physical ability, mental awareness and financial factors?
  • How can I accomplish this goal? (Make a plan and stick to the plan, diverting only when absolutely necessary.)


Set Relevant Goals

Relevance locally and worldwideThis piece is about making sure that these goals matter to you or your company, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals currently being pursued. We all need support and accountability in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control of them. And in the case of team goals, make sure that the plans drive everyone forward, and that each person remains responsible for achieving their particular goals. Relevant Goals help us focus on SMART more than any other part of the equation.

A relevant goal answers “YES” to these 5 questions:

  1. Is this goal worthwhile?
  2. Is this the right time?
  3. Does this match our other efforts/needs/vision?
  4. Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  5. Is this goal applicable in the current socio-economic climate/environment?


Set Time-bound Goals

Calendar based ClockAnyone can set goals, but if it lacks realistic timing, then you will be setting yourself up to fail. Providing a target deadline is imperative. Ask specific questions about the deadline and what can be accomplished within that time frame. If the goal is going to take three months to complete; define what should be achieved at fifty percent completion of the process. Providing time constraints also creates a sense of urgency.

Set time-bound goals by answering these questions:

  • When is the Deadline?
  • What can you accomplish within six months of now?
  • How far can you get within six weeks of now?
  • What can I do today?

Using these SMART tools for goal setting you, as an individual and your company as a team can be better prepared. Set goals. See results. Look forward to a brighter tomorrow.


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