"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?" Alice speaks to the Cheshire Cat.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don't much care where," said Alice.

"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.

It's that time of year again -- time to look back on how your numbers and accomplishments stack up against the goals you had set for the year. Of course, it's also time for setting goals for the upcoming year, as well as revising your three-, five-, and ten-year goals. But to get where you want to go depends on more than just setting goals. The kind of goals you set also have a bearing on when and if you achieve them.

Much too often, businesspeople set goals that fail to be specific enough to be effective. For instance, to simply say that one of your goals for next year is to have more sales is almost fruitless. Other than comparing your monthly and/or quarterly numbers with those from the prior year, there's little you can do with this. However, with SMART goals, you evaluate your progress throughout the year and make any necessary adjustments.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. By having your goals include these characteristics, you are much more likely to achieve them. Let's take a look each of these.

Specific goals answer one or more of the following four W's -- "who," "what," "when," and/or "where." It some cases, they may also answer the two other W's -- "which" and/or "why."

To be measurable, your goals must answer "how" as in "How much income?" "How many sales?" "How often?"

Unless your goals are achievable, none of this matters. You definitely want to stretch your abilities, but setting goals that are out of reach is counterproductive. First, when you know that you have little opportunity to achieve your goals, you may disregard them. Second, you are setting yourself up for the demoralizing feeling that comes with failure. Instead, be sure that your goals are ultimately within your reach and do what it takes to get there.

This one is simple. If you are setting goals that are not relevant to what you are trying to accomplish, then they probably are unnecessary. Do not fall into the trap of setting goals just for the sake of doing so. Make certain that they are helping you get to where you want to be.

Without defined timetables, you run the risk of allowing your goals to languish. Think about it. How powerful is a goal like, "Increase revenue by 10 percent"? Not very. This could mean in the next month, year, five years, or even "whenever." You want to be able to evaluate your progress, and that is not possible without timetables.

Once you have your goals, determine what it takes to reach those goals and carry out those plans. On some occasions, you may develop subsets of goals that are steppingstones to your major goals.

Remember to be S.M.A.R.T. and then periodically reassess and revise your goals as necessary. Then you have the greatest opportunity to succeed!

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of "101 Ways to Attract More Clients" at =>