This is part three and four in our five part series looking at setting SMART goals. If you’ve missed part one , or two, you may want to take a moment to read through them. If you’ve been following along thus far in the process you should now have goals that are specific and detailed as well as ones that you can quantify and measure so you know if you’re making progress or not. Now it’s time to take a look at your goal and ask yourself “Is this really attainable?” SMART Goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Time Sensitive

Today’s Focus: Attainable and Realistic
These two go hand in hand when using the SMART formula for goal setting. What you’re asking yourself is “Are my goals stretching me enough, while being realistic in what I can accomplish?”.  This is the hardest step in the goal setting process. Set your goal too high (unrealistic) and you will be kicking yourself on a daily basis for being a failure. Set a goal that is too low and you may reach it, but at what opportunity cost? You’ll be constantly wondering if you could have done more.

Assessing Yourself is Difficult
What makes this step even more difficult is that it takes looking objectively and honestly at your own skill set and abilities, be that hard or soft skills. You may want to grow your sales by 50% this year, but are you lacking the necessary skills to grow at such a high rate? Only you can answer that question.

Piggy Back Your Goals
I have found that when it comes time to look inward and decide if I have set a goal that is attainable and realistic given my situation, I usually find a couple more goals.  So I may say I want to grow sales by 50%, but I know that just isn’t realistic for me at this time because I need more direct sales training…BINGO, another goal that I CAN accomplish…Attending XX classes on sales training in the coming year. Can you see how this process of “piggy backing” your goals on top of each other can work to your long term benefit? Go ahead and make goals dependent on each other. If you believe that growing 50% is what you really want to do, and you can if you get more sales training, maybe write a SMART goal like the following: I will grow my sales by 50% in 2009, if I complete 5 sales training classes in the same time frame.
You’re basically saying if you can accomplish one goal, you believe you can accomplish the other. This is a good way to keep your current limitations from hampering your long term goals.

Questions to Ask Yourself
Are you setting a goal that is enough of a stretch to actually act as a goal?  It needs to be far enough out of your comfort zone to push you, but not so far that it becomes a discouragement.

Given your knowledge, skills, and abilities have you set a goal that is realistic?  If it isn’t realistic, can you set another goal to get the additional skills/resources/training so that it becomes realistic?

Tips for Success
Try to find a balance between pushing yourself and overestimating what you are able to do. If you find your goal to be unrealistic, ask yourself why and then see if you can fashion a SMART goal around the issue that is holding you back. The more accurately you assess your own skills and abilities the more chance you will have of setting a goal that is both attainable and realistic given your circumstances. Personal Preference: Lean towards pushing yourself a little farther than you think possible as opposed to underestimating what you can do.

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