Goals: SMART goals, Part III

Setting goals is an important method of personal growth and today we will use an acronym, SMART, to help us achieve the impossible!


  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

Specific. Successful goals are as specific. Instead of, I want to lose weight, say I want to lose 10% body fat by October 1 (This is your target outcome). Simply wanting to lose weight gives you nothing to work towards. The more specific you are, the better.

Some other examples:

  • Instead of, I want to get strong, say, I want to perform 10 pull-ups by July 31.
  • Instead of, I want to save a lot of money, say, I want to save $30,000 by May 2012.
  • Instead of I want to eat healthy, say,  I want to eat 2 Paleo meals per day by May 1 and 21 Paleo meals per week by June 1.

Do you see the difference from vague and ambiguous to specific and targeted? I want to save money could mean you want to save $1000 or $1,000,000, but until you are specific you have nothing to work towards.

Measurable. How will you know if you are getting closer or further away from your target? Successful goals are measurable so that progress is readily apparent and you know exactly where you stand.

With the above example goal of Perform 10 pull-ups by July 31, the measuring tool will be how many total pull-ups I can perform before I begin my action plan and again on July 31. If I can perform 2 pull-ups now and only 3 on July 1, I know that my pull-up program is not working so well. I probably should try something else.

If, however, I can perform 2 pull-ups now and 7 on July 1, I know I am right on track to complete my goal of 10 pull-ups by July 31.

There is some way of measuring any goal. It may be as simple as finishing a book – your measurement is, have you read every page? or as complex as an end test to determine your understanding. If your goal is to run 5Ks in a certain time frame, the measurement is how fast you ran the 5K.

No more guessing. Take the time to measure your progress.

Attainable. Are your goals attainable with the time and resources you have to complete them?

I have a goal of making my current income online by May 2012. This is attainable with the time I have to devote to my online projects each week – about 10 hours. It would be unrealistic to have a goal of making my current income online by May 2011, just two weeks from now.

This doesn’t mean that you don’t make BIG goals that YOU don’t think are possible – like sailing around the world. It simply means that you either a) devote or make the time to complete it or b) ensure the resources are available from somewhere to achieve it, like making a sacrifice on your fast food every day to fund your music lessons.

Realistic. Branching off “achievable”, prioritize your goals according to what is realistic. Again, this does not mean that you don’t make BIG goals. It simply means if your goal is to sail around the world and you do not have a boat, don’t know how to sail and do not have time to learn this year, it is unrealistic to set that goal for 2011. Follow?

Time-sensitive. This is a biggie. Deadlines are everything. It is vitally important that you set a deadline for each of your goals. This makes your goals tangible and holds you accountable to a certain date.

Deadlines are motivating because, again, you have a end to work towards instead of wandering aimlessly.

In summary, SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, & time-sensitive. Taking the time to think through each of these SMART objectives allows you to visualize your target, where you want to end up when all is said and done. There is no reason to waste your time setting goals if you do not know if you progressed towards a target.

Next, we will talk about an Action Plan for our goals. This step turns paper into action!


  • Laura

    Reply Reply April 22, 2011

    Enjoying the goal articles! Nothing like the feeling you get when you conquer a goal, especially exceed it!

    • admin

      Reply Reply April 22, 2011

      Thanks Laura! 🙂

  • Great post Gerilyn. I’d like to recommend a goal setting tool at http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

    • admin

      Reply Reply April 26, 2011

      Thanks, Jasmine! Your app looks like a useful tool also. I like the ease of use.

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