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SMART Goals Part 2 – Measurable Goals

This is the second part of the 5 part series on how to set SMART goals – that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Measurable – how will you know you’ve met your goal?

When someone says that you need to set measurable goals, it’s easy to think “sure, seems obvious”. Yet it amazes me that it’s so easy to miss. Goals can sound great, but be missing this vital ingredient. To make matters worse, some things are inherently tough to measure.

Some poor examples of measurable goals:

“I want to increase traffic to my website.”

“I want my business to make a real difference in people’s lives when we perform service x”

“I want to be good at doing push ups”

“I want a high level of quality in our space travel technology”

Some of these are fairly specific but are not measurable. How will you know when you’ve made a real difference to people or are good at push ups or have an acceptable level of quality? How much extra website traffic defines success?

Some of the above examples are easier to make measurable than others eg

“I want to increase traffic to my website to an average of 10,000 page views per day”

“I want to be able to do 50 push ups in a row”

However, how do you measure the more “fluffy” things like “making a difference in people’s lives” or increasing quality?

Some things are difficult to quantify which means that it’s hard to prove that you’ve actually
succeeded. This can be a very tough aspect of goal setting to get right.

When you can’t think of an obvious way to measure success, the temptation is to simply say “I’ll know it when I see it”. That’s WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! You have to try harder! How will you know it? What will you look for to know that you’ve achieved your goal?

Back to the examples… How do we know if our business has made “a real difference in people’s lives when we perform service x”? What can we measure to know that we’re making a difference? We could measure number of compliments or customer testimonials that are offered. We could ask at least some customers to complete a short survey. Depending on what service x was, we might expect a high percentage of customers to return for more if they valued what was provided. The point here is that there may not be a single perfect metric but we can probably think of some that are close or even a couple of different metrics that would indicate the goal has been achieved.

So the goal may be “I want my business to make a real difference in people’s lives when we perform service x” “I want to my business to achieve an average of 8 out of 10 or higher on customers surveyed about service x and have 50% of customers return for more service x”

What about the quality of our space program. Quality is another thing that is hard to measure. I recommend focusing on what the outcome of good quality will be rather than trying to define detailed parts of quality. Eg rather than arbitrarily demanding that less than 1 out of 20 parts is rejected due to quality issues, define the desired outcome:

“I want a high level of quality in our space travel technology” could become “I want to put a man on the moon and return him safely”. Can’t do that if the quality’s not there!

What are some of your goals? How can you make them measurable? Have you got any tough ones that are hard to measure?

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