Welcome to Digital Homesteading.

This collection of resources from 9 Clouds helps you build your business and community.


Why You Should Set SMART Professional Goals at Quarterly Reviews

SMART Professional Goals

When you’re setting professional goals, be SMART about them.

SMART goals are key to improving performance at work. At 9 Clouds, we set SMART goals during our quarterly reviews to give us a benchmark for success — something to strive toward as we continue to learn and develop as digital marketers.

Here’s why you should set your own SMART professional goals during quarterly reviews.

What Are SMART Professional Goals?

We aren’t capitalizing SMART to shout the word at you (although it is a good word to emphasize).

SMART is an acronym used to help people narrow the purpose and scope of their goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: What exactly do you want to accomplish with your goal? (Who? What? Where? When? Why?)
  • Measurable: What metrics will you use to determine whether you’ve met your goal? (How much? How many? How well?)
  • Achievable: Do you have the necessary skills and resources needed to attain your goal? (Is it realistic? Is it possible?)
  • Relevant: Does your goal align with the broader goals of your company or client? (Why are you doing it? Does it matter?)
  • Time-based: By what date will you have accomplished your goal? (How will you know when you’re done?)

A great professional goal considers all five of these elements. Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

Increase our monthly site visitors (specific) by 5% (measurable/achievable) by July 31 (time-based) to help us generate new leads (relevant).

Many goals stop at “Increase our monthly site visitors,” but that’s not enough. To really know whether you’ve improved your web traffic, you need to focus your efforts.

Goals are no good if you can’t accomplish — let alone define — them with a certain amount of ease. Our brofounder, Scott Meyer, suggests hacking your goals if they seem too daunting at first.

What Type of SMART Goals Should You Set?

At 9 Clouds, we establish two different types of SMART goals: professional and personal.

The purpose of professional goals is obvious. You’ll deliver better results, become better at your job, and hopefully find more satisfaction at work. Your employers will probably be pretty happy, too.

The purpose of personal goals is more nuanced. While they might not directly impact your company’s bottom line, they directly impact your personal life — which, in turn, impacts your professional life. When you set goals for your own education or fulfillment, you become a happier, more well-rounded person (and employee).

Plus, personal goals can be relevant to work. For example, writers on our staff have set personal goals to take creative writing classes or compose creative writing pieces. Those goals might not seem related to 9 Clouds initially, but as digital marketers, we do a lot of writing — and as creatives, well, we need to be creative. Sharpening our creative writing skills thus sharpens our digital marketing skills.

Creative Writing | Personal Goals

How Often Should You Set SMART Goals?

Determining how many SMART goals to set — and how often to set them — is a bit of an art form. You don’t want to overdo it and stress yourself out, but you also don’t want to become complacent by not challenging yourself enough.

That’s why we establish goals during our quarterly reviews at 9 Clouds. Every three months, employees sit down with our CEO, Sarah Carnes, and have a very non-intimidating talk about our progress at the company. We review our job responsibilities to pinpoint what went well and what could be improved. It’s important to identify both wins and areas of development so that staff members feel valued and inspired to achieve.

During our reviews, we discuss potential SMART goals for the next quarter. From those ideas, employees submit three professional and three personal goals each, and Sarah either refines or approves them. She even offers bonuses for two of our professional goals once they’re completed.

We then have the next three months to accomplish our goals. While we’re supposed to work on them using our own time, we keep each other accountable by attending a monthly “goals lunch.” Although this is basically just an excuse to get together and eat food, it does serve as a great reminder (a.k.a. kick in the butt) to get our goals done.

It’s also a good idea to take a general inventory of your goals once a year. During this annual review, be honest with yourself about how the year went, both professionally and personally. Reflecting deeply like this will help you discover what really matters to you — and what measures you should take to ensure you’re honing in on those core values in the year to come.

Need Help Setting SMART Goals for Your Business?

Maybe you don’t need to set SMART goals for yourself — maybe you need to set them for your business.

If you need to revamp your company’s marketing goals, you need to be specific. While SMART goals might seem pretty formulaic, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your digital marketing efforts. You need to establish goals that work for you — no one else.

If you aren’t sure what those goals might look like for your company, request a free audit from 9 Clouds. We’ll take a look at your website, compare it to your competitors, and let you know how you could improve. Together, we’ll come up with goals that are both smart and SMART.