Measurable goals and objectives are key for calculating progress in project management and are a critical part of your planning process. Today, we will be learning more about what goals and objectives are and how to put a plan into motion to help you reach your short-term and longer-term goals.
What Are Goals and Objectives, and What's the Difference?
Many people think that goals and objectives are the same thing, but there are critical differences. A goal is a broad, overarching idea or vision of where you want to end up in a certain time frame. Objectives are the specific stepping stones or milestones that pave the path towards reaching the goal. Objectives are important because they keep the goal alive and are the smaller, time-bound steps that get you closer to the specific result you want.
For example, a business goal could be to acquire 100 new customers by the end of the year, while an objective could be to increase sales by 25 percent in the first quarter of the year or to hire two new sales representatives by the end of the quarter.
It's one thing to understand the importance of clear goals and objectives, but it's another thing to put a proven system in place that will help you get there.
The American poet Bill Copeland said, ‘The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.’
In 1981, George T. Doran developed the S.M.A.R.T. goal planning acronym to make goal-setting more practical. It’s been widely adopted across various industries. The planning process was made popular by Peter Drucker's publication, Management by Objectives.
The S.M.A.R.T. goal process is broken down into five core steps. Goals should be:
Let’s make this practical. Here's an example of what a well-designed vs. poor S.M.A.R.T. plan might look like.
Good S.M.A.R.T. goal: We will have a 20% increase in sales by the end of the year.
Bad S.M.A.R.T. goal: The company will increase sales this year.
Now, let's take a look good examples and bad examples of applying the S.M.A.R.T. goal template.
Do you see how the S.M.A.R.T. goal planning process breaks the lofty goal down into a series of objectives so it becomes attainable? Using this method can help you reach business or personal goals and keep you on track over time.
The bottom line is that results take time to achieve and big goals aren't realised overnight. It takes time, dedication, persistence and hard work to reach large-scale goals for both large businesses and individuals.
Get started today by developing your own S.M.A.R.T. goal plan and get one step closer to fulfilling your professional and personal goals.
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