Using Tools To Measure Your Goals

There are several ways to measure your goals, ranging from simple to complex and free to expensive. Sometimes it makes sense to spend money on tools, but when setting goals for your own purposes, keeping it low cost makes sense.

For instance, use a spreadsheet when first starting out. Most people associate Microsoft Excel with spreadsheets, and that costs money. However, there are free alternatives, such as Open Office Calc. The Open Office suite of products is available on multiple operating systems. This software is fully functional and compatible with Microsoft products. The best part is it is free.

Sometimes, you will need more sophisticated tools. For instance, when you work on multiple projects simultaneously and there may be dependencies associated with some of the goals, you’ll need to have a better method than a spreadsheet to manage these. This is also true when you have multiple people that you need to measure their contributions to the projects.

While you could use spreadsheets for this, they are not meant for collaborative activities. The reporting features are lacking in a spreadsheet program. A program such as Microsoft Project gives you more control over these types of features.

Other factors to consider when measuring goals is workflow. When someone on your team updates a document, you want the whole team to know about it simultaneously. Otherwise, you will need to constantly coordinate changes to documents or other assets within the project. This can become a full-time job by itself.

Keep in mind the tool should not be used as a means to run the projects for you. They have their uses, but the responsibility rests with you, or the project manager. Also, you have to consider some flexibility in the measurement as not every item will go according to plan. You may need to make some adjustments along the way.

Being too rigid with the plan can cause problems within a team. Strict adherence to a tool will make the projects rigid, by definition. On the other hand, you do need some ways to accurately measure the goals. It’s a delicate balance that requires compassion as well as firmness.

When choosing a tool, try to get your team involved, so they know what to expect. This isn’t always possible as some companies already have solutions implemented. If this is the case, you will need to manage the expectations of the team and provide any training and assistance needed to make the tool work for them.

Help Your Manager Discover SMART Goals

Your manager determines what course you are to take. This is based on organizational goals or tasks that he or she has been given. Many managers are not adept at setting goals for themselves, let alone for other people. This can lead workers astray and is something that SMART goals can help with.

If your manager is not familiar with the concept, try to become an advocate. This is going to require you learning what it’s all about. It’s not a bad idea to take some training on the concept. There are courses available online, and you can start by searching for the term on YouTube.

Keep in mind that YouTube videos can be posted by anyone, so make sure you scrutinize the videos carefully. If someone sounds like they don’t know what they are talking about, move on to another one.

There are also paid courses that you could take. Try to get your manager to take a course with you. This can help you get him or her to accept the concept. There are several companies that specialize in training. Usually, it falls under the categories of motivation and coaching.

If your manager is not initially on board, you may need to take the initiative and start using the concept for your own goal setting. It’s much easier to convince people when you are successful with the concept. Trying to convince them from a purely theoretical perspective is not as effective. Managers want results and are afraid to try something that is not proven in their minds.

You may need to negotiate to position your ideas in a positive light. For instance, you can suggest that by setting goals using a SMART framework, you can get more done. Therefore, tell your manager you are willing to take on more responsibility to prove out the concept to him or her.

If your manager is not yet ready to accept this concept, at least you have planted the seeds. It’s likely he or she will look up the concept online based on you suggesting the idea. This will create an atmosphere of familiarity. When you bring it up again sometime in the future, your manager will be more receptive to the idea because it’s not a foreign concept.

One last means of getting manager buy-in is to document your experience with it. For instance, you could set up a journal and show how you used the framework to get your personal goals accomplished. It’s difficult to argue with success when it is recorded for your manager to read.

Applications Of SMART Goals

Having tips about SMART goals is great. However, sometimes it helps to solidify the concept by describing some applications of its use, which are described here. For clarification, the acronym is taken to stand for, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based.

Exercise Program

Goal: To work out every day for 20 minutes per day and achieve a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20. I will use the X System to attain that goal.

Explanation: The specific part of the goal is to achieve the Body Mass Index of 20. It is measurable as I can take a BMI reading throughout the period to compare. It may be attainable, assuming I believe in the X System or have used it before. It is realistic in that if I go to the gym and the assumptions are true, I will reach the goals. For time-based, I have given it three months and 20 minutes per day.

Save for College

Goal: To save $50 per month in a 521 account and continue to do this until my child is ready for college as the cost of college keeps rising.

Explanation: Based on historical trends, college costs rise every year. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that they will continue to rise. The specific goal is to use a 521 account, which in the United States, allows for tax breaks when saving for college. My bank statements will allow me to measure whether I am saving enough each month and make the necessary adjustments. These goals are attainable as long as I can continue working. If I made some projections based on the number of years before needing the money, this plan is likely to be realistic. However, the best course of action would be to compare alternate plans to see which would give the best return. The frequency (time-based) is monthly over some years.

As you can see from these two applications, there may be conditions that you need to consider when making these SMART goals. You have to make assumptions that may not always turn out to be correct. Therefore, you should always try to factor in alternatives whenever possible. It’s not a perfect system but it is a useful guideline to help you come up with a solid plan.

The ideal situation is to be able to address each of the five components of SMART. Don’t worry if you find some overlap. As long as you can work from your plan, it won’t make much of a difference.

Of course, you will certainly be aware that setting and achieving goals requires a lot of self-discipline, so if you want to learn about growing your own self-discipline then download the featured resource below which is a free report all about the power of self-discipline; download it, read it and take action 😊

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