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Mentoring is all about communication and having clear objectives. As a mentee, you shouldn’t expect much from mentoring if you don’t have goals. Likewise, as a mentor, you can’t expect your client to reach their goals without help setting them correctly. This is why you’ll want to use SMART goals. Mentoring effectively is a lot easier using the SMART goal framework. Here, we’ll explain what this is, how it helps you be a better mentor, and share nine examples of well-designed goals to show you how they work.
(Side note: One of the best ways to get what you want from life is to create and set SMART goals. To get started, check out this post, which provides a step-step blueprint on setting SMART goals.)
What You Will Learn
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are great for achieving your primary objectives. However, to use them correctly, you should first understand what they’re based on. “SMART” is an acronym for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.”
When a goal features all of these characteristics, failure becomes almost impossible. Even one missing component, however, may lead to a loss of motivation or a lack of meaningful progress.
Broad goals without a strategy to achieve them may seem too difficult. But after you break them down into milestones and clearly define the steps you need to take, achieving them becomes much easier. Let’s take a closer look at each of the SMART goal criteria to better understand how they work:
Goals are different from objectives or dreams. The main distinction is that objectives and dreams are broad, vague concepts. You may strive to become a great communicator, but your objective will remain incomplete without a plan. Goals are a strategy for reaching your objective. They should clearly define how you will achieve it, the timeframe, and serve a specific purpose. Your goals should be detailed and answer the questions “Who?” “What?” “When?” “Where?” and “Why?”
Think of how you will track your progress. Without a way to measure, you can’t determine how close you are to achieving your goal. Reaching milestones helps to maintain motivation and allows you to adjust your actions according to your progress. For example, instead of saying “I will lose weight,” say “I will lose 10 pounds.”
An achievable goal is reasonable considering your resources, skills, knowledge, timeframe, and other factors that may affect the goal’s fulfillment. One of the most common reasons people fail is by setting unattainable goals. Becoming the manager right after getting an entry-level job may be ideal, but you are unlikely to achieve that without a clear plan and enough time to execute it. Unachievable goals lead to frustration and loss of motivation.
What is your purpose in life? Why are you striving to achieve your goal? Always think of the broader picture when setting goals. If accomplishing your goal doesn’t get you closer to your main objective, you may have wasted your time and effort. So, while breaking down large objectives into smaller goals, keep the destination in mind. This will help keep you motivated and prevent you from being distracted throughout the process.
There’s no need to give yourself extremely tight, challenging deadlines. However, a complete lack of deadlines makes you lose any sense of urgency. You may feel that you have your entire life to fulfill your dreams, but the clock never stops ticking. Setting a specific timeframe ensures that you don’t procrastinate and that you take consistent action to approach your main objective.
The SMART goal framework is beneficial not just for mentoring. It can be applied to any part of your life, from finding your true purpose to advancing your career. Check out our ultimate SMART goal guide if you’d like to learn more about setting practical, achievable goals, check out our ultimate SMART goal guide.
Why SMART Goals Are Important for Mentoring
A study conducted by professor Dr. Gail Matthews from the Dominican University of California found that participants who write down their goals have a 42% higher chance of achieving success. Again, science is hard to argue with.
The main objective of mentoring is to help a person find their purpose and become the best version of themself. However, these broader objectives are unachievable without first defining your weaknesses, setting specific goals to overcome them, and taking action to complete them.
A good mentor should be empathetic, self-aware, and know how to communicate and ask the right questions. Like any profession, mentoring requires constant skill development for career progression.
SMART goals make your objectives clear and achievable, help to maintain motivation, and fight procrastination. When the steps are specified, the progress is trackable, and when the deadlines are defined, you have a much higher chance of mentoring successfully. These SMART goal examples for mentoring will help you understand how to set goals effectively.
9 SMART Goal Examples for Mentoring
1. Over the next two months, I will improve my sales job by improving my communication skills. To reach this goal, I will write down essential factors in my successful conversations with customers and define which approaches help make a sale.
S: This is a specific goal – you will improve your sales and communication skills by reviewing conversations with clients that have led to a sale.
M: Each noted and reviewed conversation is a milestone towards completing your goal.
A: This is an achievable goal, provided you are dedicated enough.
R: This goal is relevant for your bigger objective – becoming a better professional.
T: This goal will be completed in two months.
2. Over the next three months, I will find a hobby I’m keen on by trying something new every weekend.
S: This is a specific statement – you will find a new hobby by trying out new things.
M: Every new hobby you try is a step towards achieving your main objective.
A: This is an achievable goal; you’re bound to find something you enjoy in that time.
R: This goal is relevant for any mentee wishing to improve their life quality, learn something new, and find a long-term activity they enjoy.
T: This goal will be achieved within three months.
3. Over the next four months, I will improve my quality of life by quitting smoking and replacing it with exercise. I will track my progress using a dedicated phone app.
S: This is a specific statement – you will improve your quality of life by getting rid of a bad habit and replacing it with a new, good habit.
M: Every day without smoking is a step towards your main objective of becoming healthier and happier.
A: This is an achievable goal, albeit a particularly challenging one.
R: This goal is relevant for anyone wishing to become healthier.
T: This goal will be completed in four months.
4. Over the next six weeks, I will become a better senior employee mentor by improving my industry knowledge. To do this, I will complete a six-week course and obtain a new qualification.
S: This is a specific goal – you will become a better professional by improving your industry knowledge and obtaining a qualification.
M: Each lesson of the six-week course is a milestone towards completing your goal, with the qualification being the final milestone.
A: This is an achievable goal and an excellent idea for a dedicated mentor.
R: This goal is relevant for mentors wishing to advance their careers and become better at helping senior employee mentees.
T: This goal will be completed in six weeks.
5. Over the next four weeks, I will develop my leadership abilities by reading a new book on leadership every week.
S: This is a specific goal – you can become better at leadership by educating yourself on the topic.
M: Each book read is a step towards achieving the goal.
A: This is an achievable goal, requiring only that you spend enough time reading to complete a different book each week.
R: This goal is relevant to any mentee who wishes to develop leadership skills, particularly to progress their career.
T: This goal will be completed in four weeks.
6. Over the next three months, I will become a better person by helping in an animal shelter every weekend.
S: This statement clearly defines how you’re planning to become a better person – by helping those in need.
M: Every weekend spent in the shelter and every animal helped is a milestone towards achieving your goal of becoming a better person.
A: This is an achievable goal; all it takes is some time on the weekends.
R: This goal is relevant for mentees wishing to learn to take care of others build empathy.
T: This goal will be completed in three months.
7. Over the next six weeks, I will improve my communication and presentation skills to advance my career in our company. I will do this by speaking up at every weekly meeting.
S: This statement clearly defines how you will improve your communication skills and why you wish to do it.
M: Every work meeting where you speak up is a milestone towards achieving your goal.
A: This is an achievable goal, requiring just that you push yourself to be more confident.
R: This goal is relevant for your bigger objective – progressing at your company. Improving your communication skills will turn the management’s attention towards you and help with problem-solving.
T: This goal will be completed in six weeks.
8. Over the next four weeks, I will become happier and reduce my anxiety by improving my work/life balance. I will do this by turning down overtime and creating a leisure plan for every evening and weekend.
S: This is a specific statement – you clearly define what you should do to become happier and reduce anxiety.
M: Every evening or weekend spent without doing extra work is a step towards becoming a happier person.
A: This is an achievable goal, requiring only that you plan your leisure time better.
R: This goal is relevant for any mentee wishing to improve their quality of life and become happier.
T: This goal will be completed in four weeks.
9. Over the next two weeks, I will become a better mentor by learning to help my mentees identify bottlenecks in achieving their objectives and set the right goals. I will do this by spending one hour every evening studying the SMART goal framework. This will help me obtain more positive reviews and advance my career.
S: This is a specific statement – you define how you’re planning to become a better mentor and why you want to do that.
M: Each hour spent studying is a step towards completing your goal.
A: This is an achievable goal, taking just one hour each day to complete.
R: This goal is relevant to your main objective of becoming a better mentor and progressing your career.
T: This goal will be completed in two weeks.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Mentoring
Now you should have a clear understanding of how to set SMART goals. Mentoring isn’t straightforward without a plan, but once you get everything on paper, your far-away objectives start to seem much closer. If you’re a mentor and would like to help your mentees set their goals the right way, consider checking our SMART goal worksheet templates.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, then be sure to check out this post that provides a step-by-step blueprint for setting SMART goals for all seven areas of your life.