SMART Goal Setting: How To Actually Achieve Any Goal

SMART Goal Setting: How to actually achieve any goal

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SMART is a modern approach to setting goals. The SMART goal setting has helped thousands of people to achieve the desired result. Many successful entrepreneurs have built their business due to in-depth analysis and the right criteria for formulating tasks.

The term SMART first appeared in 1981 in an article “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives” by George Doran.

Many people who become familiar with this program almost immediately realize that they have a fundamentally incorrect attitudes to their aspirations. They revised their values, and completely changed their approach to the choice of tasks.

If you decide to put this knowledge into practice, then SMART technology will become for you an effective tool for everyday life. Successful people who allow themselves to spend a lot of time on hobbies will cease to amaze you. You yourself will begin to achieve significant results without breaking into unnecessary things.

There are many programs and techniques that allow us to achieve our goals. They all have varying degrees of effectiveness and are used by many people. However, there are not so many methods to help determine these very goals. SMART is the most effective of them.

What are the goals?

Goals are future-focused achievement. Almost always its a long-term process.

Although achieving goals of any kind is almost always beneficial, ordinary goals have several drawbacks. On the one hand, they are often arbitrary, which means that even if you achieve your goal, it may not bring significant benefits to your life.

In some cases, people set goals that are truly unattainable. These goals can still inspire a person to develop, but more often they lead to disappointment when they are not achieved in the end.

Ordinary goals can also be difficult to measure, making it sometimes difficult to determine if you are really making progress.

Finally, if the goals are not limited in time, it is too easy to be in a state of uncertainty. In such a situation, goals never leave the horizon and are never achieved.

SMART goals eliminate the flaws of ordinary goals.

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SMART Goals – definition and examples

The word “SMART” is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based. Each of them means a criterion for the effectiveness of goals.

By writing down the SMART goal, you work through each of these concepts. It is important to set a goal that is clear what exactly you want to achieve, when it should be done, and how to understand that you have succeeded.

In this convenient setting technique, there is no room for generalizations and conjectures. That’s why you know exactly what result you are striving for and how to track your progress and tasks.

Consider each criterion of SMART goals in more detail.


We specify the desired effect in our personal lives, making it understandable and achievable. Instead of dreamy, general formulations, it is necessary to write down concrete consequences at the exit.

Good goals can’t be ambiguous. You need to have a clear, concise goal. For example, instead of saying “I want to look better,” you could say “I want to lose 5 kilos by the summer.” Obviously, the last example is much more specific and therefore more appropriate as a goal.

According to the SMART principle, goals should be with one specific result.

  • Try to be more specific about what you want to do.
  • Determine what you expect from the rest.
  • Use less common words and use action verbs.

Include in your tasks answers to specific questions: who, what, when, where, who, and why.

Wrong goalCorrect goal
Create several articles for publication on the blog.Prepare five educational articles that will be published on the blog with an interval of three days.
Learn French.Watch French movies in the original.


SMART goal setting involves controlling progress towards a goal. For this, it must be measurable.

  • Determine which indicators you will use to understand the relevance of your goal.
  • Highlight specific timelines by which to measure progress.

Each criterion of the SMART method transforms and refines the goal. The same goals with the criterion of measurability will become more specific.

Wrong goalCorrect goal
Create several articles for publication on the blog.Prepare five educational articles for the blog, each of which will attract up to 1000 readers per day.
Get in better shape.Run 3 days per week.
Become financially independent. Have an income of $ 5,000 / month.


Too many people fall into the trap of setting impossible goals. Although unattainable goals can move you forward a bit, you will almost certainly end up abandoning them. Instead of impossible goals, set difficult, but achievable.

Achievability criterion means that the goal is already within your power or is in the growth zone. You have enough knowledge and skills to achieve it, or it will take a little work on yourself to cope with it.

You can step by step imagine what needs to be done, and every step you can do. It may be difficult for you to achieve it, but it does not scare you. The goal can be doubtful, but does not paralyze the will.

If the goal seems unattainable, it’s best to set an intermediate goal that is accessible to you. If the goal is set and you put it off – you need to set an easier goal.

  • Think about whether you have the necessary tools and skills to achieve the goal.
  • Make sure that achieving this objective is within your means.
  • Check all uncontrollable factors, if any.
Wrong goalCorrect goal
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This criterion for the SMART goal method requires an analysis of the question “Why do I want this?”.

Not all goals are as important as others. If the goal does not match your overall plan for life, achieving it may not give you anything.

To make the goal useful, make sure that it is worth your time, its achievement will bring positive results to your life, and also that this goal is at least to some extent consistent with your other goals.

You can lead a healthy lifestyle in different ways: run, eat right, swim, play volleyball. You need to check what suits you best. Examine yourself: what you feel, going the different ways of a healthy life.

If the goal is complex and you are not sure that you want to pursue it, I recommend setting an intermediate goal for the experiment. Walk part of the way and see how it is – is there any desire to continue to strive for it?

  • Analyze if the goal is practical and results-oriented.
  • Check if it is related to your skills and qualifications.
Wrong goalCorrect goal
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Become a software engineer. Understand whether you like working with code or want income, like a software developer.


A goal without bounds is doomed to failure from the start. Creating an accurate time frame motivates, serves as a reminder, and helps to maintain a given pace.

In management, this is an important criterion for each goal.

  • Indicate the time period when the task should be completed.
  • Set dates using days, months, quarters.
Wrong goalCorrect goal
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SMART goals examples

  • Start earning $ 5,000 monthly at your current job by October 1, 2020.
  • Take a painting course and draw 3 paintings by July 1, 2020.
  • Buy a house before December 1, 2020.
  • Lose weight by 5 kg by July 1, 2020.
  • Spend 3 weeks in Barcelona at a 5-star hotel in the city center from May 1 to 20, 2020.
  • Take a free training “Personal growth” until October 31, 2020.
  • Buy a new Toyota Land Cruiser Prado by February 2021.
  • Read 12 books over the next six months.

Benefits of SMART Goal Method

The ability to set SMART goals helps not only in business. The concept of goal setting is used by ordinary people for personal purposes. The SMART system provides clarity in the implementation of tasks.

Consider the main advantages of SMART goals:

Clear direction.

If you have SMART goals, then you have a clear direction for completing your tasks. If you have a business, these goals help and simplify the decision-making process every day.

Help in planning.

By learning to set goals, you will reach a more advanced level of task planning for both your business and personal everyday problems.

Getting a quick result.

Properly formulated SMART goals help you quickly achieve your goals. It will take you less time to perform unproductive activities.

Means of motivation.

If you have a big goal, then it will become an instrument of motivation for you.

Final thoughts on SMART Goal Setting: How To Actually Achieve Any Goal

The SMART system is useful both for strategy development in a large company, and for personal purposes.

SMART goals are a great option for short-term planning. Long-term planning has little to do with SMART technology. For example: “I want to buy a house in 20 years” – this is not the goal for planning using the SMART technique. But you still can make a list of small goals using the SMART method that will help you to achieve such a big goal, like buying a house.

It’s important to understand that the SMART goals will work only if there is a presence of active actions to achieve the stated goals. If you know in advance that there is a goal, but there are no actions – you can not expect a big effect.

SMART goal setting will be useful for your own planning. Just don’t waste your time – right now find a piece of paper, take a pen and test the SMART technique personally or get a convenient worksheet below!

Cover Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

SMART Goal Setting: How To Actually Achieve Any Goal

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