S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals to Clear the Path Ahead

What’s the big deal about S.M.A.R.T. Goals anyway?


When what we want to achieve exists so far outside of our common day-to-day habits the path to change is covered in an impenetrable fog. It’s a haze that makes it hard for us to see much further than a few missteps into the future. What’s worse is it blocks us from seeing the very real danger of inevitable failures that are easily avoidable if we knew they were coming. How can we possibly see the dangers and failures in our path?


The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Not Assessing Goals

While a visualization is necessary to get a feel for where you want to go. Stopping there means we are way more likely to lose steam. Three or four months in resolutions will start to fail, if they haven’t already. This is because at some point we are going to stumble in our progress. When that fall happens it creates an immediate and visceral drop in our self-confidence.
We begin to question the ultimate direction we’ve chosen to take. Even if we recover from this first fall, several more are likely awaiting us. The trick is to prepare for them. If we don’t, when they hit us, we are more and more likely to quit each time. The goal we were so sure of suddenly appears much further away than we thought. Our motivation and all progress dies.


Everyone has challenges, those who achieve do so in spite of life’s imperfections.


This is the inevitable downfall of a goal if we haven’t validated where we want to go is even possible. We ultimately can’t achieve, not because we’re incapable, or unskilled, but because any number of other elements that were always going to keep our achievement out of reach. Then we hit the wall that was always going to stop us, we become frustrated, discouraged, and often give up when all we really needed to do was realize the wall was there in the first place so there isn’t a haze surrounding it and we see that it can just be walked around.


A Quick Start S.M.A.R.T. Goal Assessment

To handle these easily avoidable speed bumps we are going to implement the S.M.A.R.T. goals assessment to any goal we want to achieve. Before the assessment break your resolutions down into the categories 5 year, 3 year, 1 year, and 13 weeks.


Start this process in a very specific mindset:
“My goal in it’s current form is not S.M.A.R.T. goals assessed. No matter how much time or effort I’ve already put into it.”

We want to think this way because doing so will help us practice thinking critically around this idea! A practice that will increase your ability to do so in every situation where you want to make sure what you are doing is S.M.A.R.T.

Through the entire process of thinking about a goal  we are going to ask ourselves one question over and over again.

“Is this goal S.M.A.R.T; or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based?”


Note: Each letter of S.M.A.R.T goals have variations on what they stand for, syntactically people have created their own preferences for terms to used. At some point you’ll develop a favorite variation too. We encourage you to make it your own and allow this skill to develop with the definitions that make the most sense to you!

Definitions of S.M.A.R.T Goals

To assess a goal examine it through each of the parameters of S.M.A.R.T goals individually. Start with the first letter and work through to the last.

  1. Specific- To be specific the goal must have parameters defined related to a singular aspect of the overall goal. This parameter should be the most impacting and motivating  parameter for you personally.
  2. Measurable- To be measurable the goal must have a finite aspect to it. Such that you can look at the compiled data and once you get to a certain point definitively say “I did it”!
  3. Attainable- To be attainable the goal must not be hindered by anything in your current environment. You should have all the resources, items, and support surrounding you to tackle the goal. If there are hindrances that exist in your environment you need to address these first, or have a plan on how to deal with them when they inevitably arise.
  4. Realistic- To be realistic the goal must not be so far outside of your circle of experience or skill sets to be considered unreasonable. This isn’t the time to be prideful or overly judgmental of yourself. This is the time to allow yourself to be honest of what you are capable of and, in doing so, find where you can expand yourself just a little more past your perceived limits.
  5. Time-Based- To be time-based the goal should have an end date that allows you a reasonable amount of time to accomplish the goal.

Thinking about your goals in this context will help you clear a path ahead to them even when sidetracked so you can remain on the path to where you set out for.



Looking for a way to Commit to Change? Join the members only community!

bestself inner circle

Community support, tools, and methods you need to make your resolution into reality!


Smarter Together

One of the most incredible things about all of us is for all the differences in our journey, the more we consider the path of those who surround us the more success we find.

The greatest among us will freely admit that they stand on the shoulders of giants. That their innovation is not the exclusion of ideas, but the inclusion and re-imagining of them. When we connect the dots of ideas to preexisting concepts in ways others have not seen we create amazing things. 

So, we ask that as you complete your assessment of a goal, drop it into the comments below show us what dots you’ve connected– because together we can go far!


What Next?

Back: Overcome Indecision with a Visualization Exercise

Ahead: Tame the Wild Rapids by Finding your Why

  • Martin Lindeskog

    I appreciate the work that the pioneer of goal setting theory, Dr. Edwin A. Locke, is doing in the field of self development. I have developed my personal version during the years.

    • Shameer Shah

      Hey @martin_lindeskog:disqus I’d be keen to know what your version of SMART is? Thanks