SMART goal setting can make 2018 your best ever, so take some time this holiday season to plan for the year ahead.

The concept of SMART goals has been around for awhile, so you’ve probably heard of them before. It’s a proven system that can help you gain the clarity and focus you need to achieve your dreams – but only if you follow through!

First, determine where you’d like your business to be this time next year. Making more money? Gaining more clients? Creating a new product or offering a new service? Freeing you to take more time off?

Sorry, but that’s not enough to get you there.

You need SMART goal setting!

Your goal will need to be:

SPECIFIC. Exactly what do you plan to achieve? Why do you want this outcome? Who can you partner with to make this happen? Which resources will you need to have available?

MEASURABLE. How will you know if your efforts are producing results? You will need to set milestones and review your progress periodically to stay on track. Be ready to change course if something isn’t working.

ACTIONABLE. Break your goal into the steps you will need to take to achieve it. This is the key to the entire system. Every activity you take on to reach your ultimate goal keeps you motivated to continue, builds confidence – and gets you closer to where you want to be!

RESULTS-BASED. It’s important that your goals are relevant to the stage of development your business is in. Stay focused on the results of every action you take toward reaching the final outcome.

TIME-BOUND. Set time limits for various stages of the process. Keep track of your target dates to be clear on the progress you’re making.

The most important part of crafting SMART goals is to have a process that you will follow through on.

Develop your 2018 plan of action by focusing on a single meaningful, achievable, realistic goal. Break that down into the steps you will take to reach daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and semi-annual milestones.

A significant component of this process is to begin with your big hairy goal for the year and work backward to develop an actionable task list.

So you want to [fill in your goal here!] in 2018.

You will need to be clear on where you must be halfway through the year to get there. The procedures you’ll need to implement will have to be spelled out in detail. And then broken down again into ever smaller pieces until you have a complete plan of action devised specifically to meet those markers of success.

One caveat: It’s been said that planning SMART goals is inflexible and forces you to follow rigid guidelines you’ve set without taking roadblocks into account. That idea couldn’t be farther from the truth!

SMART goals are attainable simply because they are well-defined and purposeful.

Setting SMART goals gives you the freedom to switch up your plan of action on the fly since you are able to review and revise it by tracking daily, weekly and monthly progress. You’ll know you’re not going to meet that quarterly goal well in advance, and have plenty of time to correct course.

Keep these guidelines in mind when SMART goal setting in 2018 and beyond. You’ll be glad you did!

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