Set Objectives With Your Finish Line In Mind

Posted by Greg Smith on September 13, 2012

“Begin with the end in mind.”

Stephen Covey’s philosophy is so simple that it seems complicated. But what the author, educator and motivational speaker means is similar to the philosophy we strongly embrace at Mitchell of “looking through the turn.” Focus on where you want to end up rather than on the obstacles that lie in the way of reaching your goal.

One way to do that is to set objectives for every project you undertake. And when setting objectives, use the SMART method.

  • Specific: Do your objectives specify what you want to achieve?
  • Measurable: Can you measure whether you are meeting objectives or not?
  • Achievable: Are the objectives you set achievable and attainable?
  • Realistic: Can you realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you allotted?
  • Time: When do you want to achieve the set objectives?

What are some examples of SMART objectives?

  • To increase client engagement: Objectives can be set for your team to work with a certain number of clients during a time period (e.g., engage with 100 different client contacts by year end).
  • To raise money: Put a specific number out there for all to work toward: Raising $10 million within the next 12 months.
  • To grow: The organization may set an objective to grow by 15 percent every year over the next five years.
  • To increase brand awareness: Raise awareness among a target audience by 5% during the holiday campaign.

These examples show the simplicity of Covey’s philosophy. Think about where you want to be in six months, two years, five years, and set some realistic goals.

The key is to be honest. You must set the missions or goals or your objectives to be reasonably achieved within the expected timeframe and with the available resources. It does no good to set a goal of doubling revenue over the next 12 months if such an idea isn’t feasible.

In general, objectives are broader in scope than goals, and may in fact contain several goals. Objectives are the most basic planning tools underlying all projects. By "looking through the turn" using SMART objectives, you can reach your goals while avoiding the obstacles along your path.

How SMART are your current objectives? Share your thoughts on creating your goals and objectives in the comments below, or tweet us using the hashtag #mcgblog.