Hot! This is Your Sign

If you’re waiting for a sign that this is your year, here it is.  Nothing will stop you from making great things happen if you’re clear on what you want to accomplish and you focus on execution.

One way to ensure you can turn those dreams to reality is to make every goal a SMART goal, says our friend Jen Bilik, founder of Knock Knock, which produces the best line of humorous paper products.  SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timed—are easier to execute than pie-in-the-sky dreams.  Execution will determine your success.

“All big goals can be broken down into SMART goals that will lead you to achieve the big goal,” says Jen. “Goals that aren’t SMART tend not to get done.”

So true.  Good intentions don’t always lead to solid accomplishments.  Instead of hoping you make things happen, use this simple strategy to ensure you make things happen.

For example, “Increase sales” isn’t a SMART goal, but “Through online business development, identify 50 new sales prospects by [date]“; “Develop three targeted sales pitches by [date]“; ”Make 50 sales calls by [date]“; and “Analyze results of calls to assess best route to customer conversion by [date]” are.

Use this formula to get SMART now.

Specific: “Make more money” is not specific.  “Increase revenue by $50,000 in six months” is very specific.  “Get media coverage” is not specific.  “Secure a biweekly column in my local newspapers” is very specific.  Get specific.  Focus on something tangible not aspirational.

Measurable: How will you measure your progress on the path toward fulfilling your goal?  If you want to double your annual revenue, what kind of results must you achieve each month to meet your target?

Actionable: What specific steps must you take to realize your goal?  How many calls and to whom? How many events and which ones? How many blog posts and what content?  If you don’t know quite clearly the actions you must take, then you’ll never have a fighting chance to fulfill your goals.

Realistic: The SMARTest goals are realistic for you to achieve and they’re very closely related to your short and long term vision for your business.  These aren’t the pie-in-the-sky goals, which, by the way, are fine to pursue, but that’s outside this SMART strategy.  If your goal is to debut your first book as a New York Times bestseller this year, but you don’t have a topic, an outline, a manuscript, or even a clue about the publishing process, then it’s not realistic right now.  Writing the book or securing a publishing contract are probably more reasonable goals to pursue at this time.

Timed: Let’s face it: no deadline usually means no action.  We’re conditioned to put off what we don’t have to tackle right now.  So if you really want to realize the SMART goals you’re setting, then assign deadlines for each action step and stick to them—or else.

Go ahead, SMARTie pants: Tell us one of your 2012 goals.  Declare it here so can help hold you to it.

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