Lifehacker linked to an article/posting from Goal Setting Guide. S.M.A.R.T. - Specific - Measurable - Attainable/Achievable - Realistic - Timely.
Specific - keep it simple. Keep it focused, no rambling. CLEARLY define what you are going to do. What, why, and how are the questions that should be answered in this section of your goal. What do you ultimately what to accomplish? How are you going to get there.
Measurable - ahhh...my favorite part. What gets measured gets done. If you aren't going to measure it people, don't bother doing it. If you are just starting out using S.M.A.R.T. keep things simple. You can get fancy later by adding progress points into the goal. (Have a quarter of the lawn mowed by Monday, half by Tuesday, etc.) Don't feel pressured to go nutty with this though. Make sure that you have your measuring criteria CLEARLY defined BEFORE you start out towards your goal. According to the Goal Setting Guide:
When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.Well...that and it can also show you where you are failing miserably and point to the specific points of derailment. Don't let that deter you though. Figure out where it went bad, fix it, redefine the goal (if needed) and hit it.
Achievable - Don't pad your goals. At the former company, we used S.M.A.R.T. goals except everyone padded. They didn't stretch. I naturally didn't pad and struggled mightily to achieve the goals I set for my crew. A goal needs to stretch you where you will have to COMMIT to it. If you have been producing 20 widgets a day for the last 20 years, don't come in with "21" as your goal. Come in with 30! And tell me how you're going to get there!
Realistic - doable. Not easy. See above. From the site:
It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization. A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn't break them.Timely - every goal MUST have a timeframe. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target. No timeframe means you are not COMMITTED to the goal. No time limit means no urgency.
Read it, know it, live it.