Smart Kick-off for Lawyers and Law Firms: Defining 2011

Be Smart with SMART Goals this year!  The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t write them down, or ever seriously consider them as real.  Most business planners talk about SMART goals, and there are many variations on what that means. At Catalyst we like: Specific, Motivating, Agreed to, Realistic, and Thoughtful. 

  • Specific – The goal has to be clear. Just to say that I am going to lose weight is a goal but not a very good one.  Instead I would say that this year I am going to lose 50 pounds. If the goal is not specific I have limited accountability. 
  • Motivating – the significance could be enough motivation.   For example, losing weight is a great goal, but what is the significance?  How about my artificial knee will collapse if I don’t lose weight! Now that is motivation. The goal can be more motivating if a reward were attached. Motivation is the driving force which causes us to achieve goals. I like a reward system but it could also be a consequence.
  • Agreed to – you had better get the agreement from your support group.  I do a lot better at losing weight if the person that cooks my meals is part of the program.
  • Realistic – if you quickly figure out that the goal is impossible the goal is gone.  I didn’t decide to just lose 50 pounds; I decided to lose a pound a week, which gave me a two week buffer.
  • Thoughtful – exhibiting or characterized by careful thought.  I like this better than the original timely or time based because it implies that all aspects of the goal was thought out.  The goal can be timely and also relevant.  With my weight loss goal I considered the impact on others, how long it would take me, and how I would accomplish the loss.

Fancy acronyms are nice but the key ingredient to success is execution or action.  I am all for defining business goals and even new year’s resolutions as long as there are some plans of action.  That helps with the realistic part.  How did I plan to lose weight?

Now that you have the goals defined, tell the world that you are ready to engage.  Even if you have a well-defined goal it won’t do any good if it is hidden away. A little visibility will go a long way to producing accountability.  The result of action is progress, learning and life.  Goals, be they SMART goals, business goals, resolutions, or dreams are in the future.  To reach your goal you must take the first step.  Between the first step and your last, you gain experience, memories, relationships, opportunities and clarity.  It is fair game to modify your goal as you gain knowledge or take advantage of new opportunities.  You have to take that first step.

Now take out your business goals or new years resolutions and see if they are SMART goals.  If you have not written anything down yet, it is time to get started.