One of the transferrable skills I’ve picked up through my day job is the idea of SMART goals. It’s a method of setting goals (for yourself, for your group) that are easier to achieve. It’s something I use, consciously or not, all the time. It’s a skill I hope that we can use in the organization to make the changes we want to make happen.
What is it?
SMART is a mnemonic device, an acronym to help you visualize and order all the steps necessary to set realistic goals.
Each of these ideas adds to the overall picture of what your goal is going to be. Again, it sounds like corporate mumbo-jumbo and new-agey ideas but it works.
Goals need to be specific and the more specific the better (for the most part). Vague goals become harder to achieve because you’re never really sure what you’re supposed to be doing.
You need to have a way to track your progress. Humans are wired to respond to progress and to lose interest when there’s lack of it.
You need to know that what you’re setting out to do is something you can do. Sometimes you need to break larger goals into smaller pieces to make them attainable. When excitement hits you can easily want to do something big, then you’ll feel like you’re not making progress (see above) and then you’ll lose interest and be harder to motivate. Keep your dreams realistic and build smaller pieces to put together for a bigger whole.
The goal has to fit into your overall vision or strategy. If your overall goal is a healthier lifestyle (for example) then having a goal that you’re going to learn to switch out a carburetor isn’t relevant. It’s cool and might fit into another strategy (like say learning to be more self-sufficient) but it doesn’t fit what you’re doing now.
The goal has to have a realistic time limit/frame. It helps to boost your confidence to know you’re on schedule on a project and it let’s you know when you’re done.
So how about an example?
That’s a great idea. So let’s look at something I’ve been doing since I took this office (or trying to) which is to improve the overall health and culture of the organization. That’s a huge goal and thus needs to be broken down into SMART Goals or else I’m going to see a lack of progress, become discouraged and stop caring. We’ve all seen that in action.
I am specifically going to do something to celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Week. We are a volunteer organization and while we often give prestige, for this time of the year I’m going to do something different. I’m going to send Thank You Cards to every domain (if your domain coordinator did not receive one ask them if they gave me their address for mailing them). That’s the specific goal – send thank you cards to the DCs.
I had cards, now I don’t. It is a tangible measure of where I am with the goal. They were here, then addressed and mailed out. Physical measurables are awesome that way 🙂
How much are the cards? How much is postage? Do I have mailing addresses? What to put inside it? Can I get it translated in time? When I realized that the answers to the questions I had were all “I can do this” then I knew the goal was attainable.
Is sending cards ever relevant in the day of email and social media? I think so. It’s the extra step(s) of getting the address, writing out the address and mailing a physical thing that’s important. It’s not a lot of time but it is time someone took to go an extra step to say thank you. That should never stop being relevant.
Send them by the end of April was my time limit. I ended up a bit delayed as I waited for them to come back from the printers but that was outside of my control. Still setting a specific time limit did help me to not put it off.
What does it mean?
Well, hopefully people liked getting the cards. There’s still more to send since some DCs didn’t send their addresses and some domains have folded but I’m getting another batch ready shortly and will send those out. Additionally maybe the next time I have an outside the box idea – like a motto contest or something – people will be more inclined to take part because we’re accomplishing what we say we’ll do. That in turn increases member involvement, which impacts member enthusiasm, which adds to a healthier club culture and environment.
That’s my plan anyway. Small steps = big rewards.