In setting up a SMART goal, which criterion is the most important? How do you rank each criterion?
SMART goals originated in a business setting back in 1981. If you are applying the concept of SMART goals to something other than a business or work situation the most important criterion will likely change.
I would likely rank the 5 criteria or elements of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based, as follows:
#1. Specific. Without specificity/clarity you have no idea what you are truly trying to achieve. This would hold true no matter what type of goal you are applying this system to.
#2. Achievable. You have to at least believe it is possible or else you would not do it. It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks. Think of Kennedy’s Man on the Moon speech. How many people actually thought it was possible at that time?
#3. Measurable. So you know if you actually came close to, achieved or exceeded the goal.
#4. Time-based. Going back to Kennedy or even Elon Musk and putting humans on Mars. Does there really have to be a deadline? Yes, but only so you can measure progress and push toward some result. It helps, immensely. But timelines can change. As long as we don’t punish ourselves over missing the mark, I think I would rank this one a bit lower.
#5. Relevant. It has to be relevant to you in some way or else why would you do it? You might have other motivating factors than the thing itself. Like if you do it you will get $1M but the thing itself has no relevance to you but the $1M does.