It's that time of year again – the one some of us think of as the mid-year motivation slump. Whether we're managers or employees, newcomers to our organization or old hands, many of us would rather take a nap right now than check off the items on our to-do lists.
Productivity research shows that workers are most productive in the autumn, once they're back from their summer vacation. But what about right now? What better time is there to set some goals to motivate yourself and your team?
Organizations can take a fresh look at defining their objectives and breaking down how they'll achieve them. Meanwhile, employees can set individual targets for what they want or need to get done over the next stretch of time.
Goals are a great way to measure progress, define priorities, and expand a knowledge area or skill you're passionate about. But it's so easy to think about what we want to achieve in ambitious, nebulous terms rather than defining the specifics. How do we set goals that matter? How can we make sure that we achieve what we set out to do?
Take our quiz, How Good Is Your Goal Setting? and then read on to discover how you can make your goals SMART – and use them to energize yourself.
George T. Doran pioneered the SMART goal setting approach in 1981. SMART can stand for a few slightly different sets of words, but Mind Tools uses the primary terms outlined below. Our SMART Goals article has more advice on this type of goal setting.
In short, SMART goals are concrete objectives that make sense in your real-life context. So how can we use them today?
The specific aspect of the SMART framework is about being detailed. Rather than aiming to "write some blog posts" this quarter, I might set a goal detailing the blog posts I'll write, what they'll focus on, and where and when they'll be posted.
Setting a measurable goal involves putting a number to your goal. How many blog posts will I write? What dates and deadlines am I aiming for?
An achievable goal must be something within your capacity to do, taking scope, resources and abilities into account. Let's say I want to create video content but have never done so before. I might need training before putting a video together, and I'll likely not be starting with an hour-long montage!
Relevant goals are ones that matter to you and connect to your context. I might want to learn line dancing, but that's unlikely to be an appropriate goal for my job. A more relevant goal might relate to my organization's overall objectives.
Time-bound goals, like measurable ones, take numbers into account. In this case, it's the timeline and a clear end date. Quarterly goals are one example of this, as they're typically accomplished within a set amount of time (the quarter).
Along with making sure that my goals are SMART, I've found that the following considerations are also important when setting goals at work.
When setting your own goals within an organization, consider both your own development and the company's overall aims. What do you want to learn? On the other hand, what does the organization (or your team) aim to achieve? What skills can you offer to help them do this? Seek out overlaps between the two lists – between what you want and what the organization wants.
Some organizations differentiate between goals related to personal development, such as learning to use a new form of software, and individual goals related to company aims, such as helping to make sales or create new products. When setting your own goals, try to address both domains. It's important both to support your team and to continue growing and learning.
When setting goals, it helps to bounce ideas off others who know you well. You might discuss goals with your team or manager before finalizing them. Other people offer fresh ideas and a reality check when needed.
Some goal-setting processes have feedback baked in. But if your process is more solitary, try seeking out others to collaborate with and learn from.
Wishing you the best of luck with your goal setting!
What SMART goals will help to re-energize you? What else can you do to get over the mid-year motivation slump? Share your ideas in the comments below!
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