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How to Set Realistic Association Goals

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For associations and chambers, goal setting isn’t always easy. And achieving goals is even trickier. In the current environment, knowing where to even begin goal-setting can be absolutely mind-boggling.

By taking it one step at a time, the goal-setting process for member-based organizations can go from overwhelming to very manageable.

There are broad goals and short-term goals. Often, a broad goal can be achieved with a series of short-term goals. The key to association success is to set a solid foundation from the beginning.


Enter the SMART goal process.

S = Specific What do I want to accomplish?

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The goal should be clear and concise. Think of the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Why, and Where. A specific goal has a greater chance of being achieved than a general goal.

M = Measurable How will I measure success, and how will I know I achieved it?

There should be a way to track your progress. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Plus, keeping track and seeing progress can be motivating.

A = Achievable Can I realistically achieve the goal in the time provided?

The goal should be realistic and attainable. It’s okay to push yourself, but don’t make it impossible.

R = Relevant How does the goal align with my overall objective?

Linking your goal to something important ensures that it is rewarding and results-oriented.

T = Time-based How much time should I allow to reach my goal?

Your goal should have a time frame with a target date. Use the target date to plan backward, outlining how much time per day, week, month, etc. you will dedicate. A time frame helps with motivation and keeps you accountable.

Following the SMART principles of goal-setting increases the probability of association and chamber success.

Editor’s note: This article was originally posted on March 27th, 2018. It has been updated.
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