How to Set Achievable Goals for Your Business

Goal setting is vital to the success of every team, and thus to the success of every leader and business manager. If you know how to make goals that work, you’ll help your team — and thus the organization itself — perform at its best.

The brain sees a goal as an extension of itself; it takes ownership of the goal and the accomplishment. Neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin are released in the brain as goals are set and worked toward. If the brain truly desires the goal, it is rewarded along the way to the achievement by the release of these chemicals. However, if the goal is not achieved, these chemicals are withheld and the individual feels bad. The brain therefore makes every effort to reach its goals.

The goal-setting process is simplified by the often-used process of writing SMART goals. The SMART approach is linear, logical, and very left-brain oriented. Those teams that think in a left-brained format appreciate this type of goal setting. It's easy to track and measure goals that are created by this approach.

The following characteristics make up this acronym:

  • Specific: Each goal specifies your target exactly. For instance, increasing sales may be your goal, but it’s not specific enough. Increasing sales by 10 percent is much more specific.

  • Measurable: One of the big problems with setting goals is knowing when you have met them. In other words, you must be able to evaluate your success. Increasing sales by 10 percent is measurable if you have the data on present sales.

  • Achievable: A goal that is within your reach increases motivation and those brain chemicals that keep you and your team motivated. If you wanted to increase sales by 50 percent, your sales staff may see that goal as impossible to achieve and give up before they begin. The 10-percent mark, however, may be very possible for the sales team if they have a reasonable amount of time to achieve it.

  • Realistic: A realistic goal is one that your team has the resources to realize. If the team has the skills it needs to increase sales, you have enough of the product to sell, you have plenty of customers in your sales area, and you have time to get the job done, the goal is realistic.

  • Time: SMART goals are written with an end in mind. Increasing sales by 10 percent by the end of the next fiscal year provides a deadline. If you don’t have a deadline, the goal is too vague and the target is unclear. Time is a motivational factor in achieving goals. (I want to lose ten pounds is a goal. But I want to lose ten pounds by Christmas provides a deadline.)

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