Be SMART about your goals

by DrDarko

New Years Eve is not the only time for making resolutions. Best time to decide on a success is right now, and best way of setting your goals is the SMART way!

Deciding and planning for success is something you should be doing all year round. While deciding might look easy, planning is definitely not.  If you are serious about planning for success, you first have to understand the difference between goals and wishes. This is true for all of us, regardless of our profession or personal preferences.

The best way to learn the difference between wishes and goals is to use the SMART strategy of goal setting. S.M.A.R.T. goal is SpecificMeasurableAttainableRealistic and Timely. Wish, on the other hand is usually found lacking one of these six qualities.


Your goal must be specific. “I want to lose weight” is not specific and thus, remains a wish for most of us. To set a specific goal you must answer 6W questions:

  • Who: Who needs to do what?
  • What: What will you exactly be accomplishing with your goal?
  • Where:  Where is a location where everything will happen?
  • When:  What is the time frame for accomplishment of this goal or when will you perform all the necessary activities?
  • Which:  Which requirements are necessary for accomplishment?
  • Why: What are your reasons and purpose of accomplishing the goal?

So, the wish of “losing weight” might be converted into goal by asking these six questions and arriving at the full goal of:

I (who) want to lose 10 lbs (what) in 3 months (when) by going to gym (where) two times per week (which, when) so that I can feel better about my body and my looks (why).


Measuring Tape
Measuring Tape

Your goal must be measurable in some way. If you can’t measure something, there is no way that you can improve it. By establishing specific measurable properties of your goal, you can start measuring your progress along the way.

Ask questions like how far, how much, how many, how long and similar, so that you can easily define your specific measurable qualities.

In this “losing weight” example, you might say that you want to lose 3 lbs on your first month and 3.5 lbs a month during the following two. This would give you opportunity to measure your progress in time.


In defining your goal, you need to identify which attitudes,abilities, skills,and financial capacity are necessary to reach it. You must realize that, in order to reach your goal, you must grow. Figuring out the ways to accomplish your goal will change your self-perception and self-image.

Goals that now seem out of your reach can become attainable because you are capable of growth. You do not need to shrink your goals; you need to expand to match them. When you list specific details of your goal, you will build your future and successful self.


Any goal has to be realistic. If you set your goal too high,and are not both willing and able to work toward accomplishing it, you will find yourself living in the bubble. Still, try to avoid setting your goals too low since you might end up simply not motivated enough to work on them.

The only person who can decide if the goal is realistic is you. There is no reason why your goal cannot be high and realistic at the same time. Some of the highest achievements of your life can look simple because you are willing to exert any effort necessary in working on something you love.



Your goal must have a time limit. If there is no sense of urgency and need to get something done by a specific time/date, it will end up postponed. “Some day” will probably never come,and vague time frame will set your goal up for indefinite postponement.

Anchoring your goal within a specific period will make it much more likely to succeed. If you say that you just want to “lose 10 lbs,” it will allow you to postpone almost any visit to the gym. When you say that you want to “lose 10 lbs in three months time,” you do not have time to have second thoughts and a deadline will make you push yourself much harder than some indefinite time frame.

Here are just a couple of more tips to help you on your journey towards success and power...

Awards and small steps of success

You should award every success, no matter how small. Whenever you accomplish one of your goals, or even if you just measure up to your planned progress, you should give your self some kind of an award. Rewarding yourself for success creates positive mental attitude and keeps you motivated.


By setting a string of smaller goals, you can make your high-end goal much more attainable. By using the same SMART strategy for setting a string of smaller goals, your success is always just one small step away.

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Updated: 01/24/2012, DrDarko
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johnloberiza on 10/21/2014

This is a very comprehensive and practical guide in setting and achieving your goal. Thanks for sharing.

AndyGerenraich on 03/03/2012

I'm struggling with this concept. It's practical and realistic and I don't doubt I could be more specific and smarter about achieving goals, but I don't know; I can't help feeling like it's so sterile. Don't you think that ambition comes more organically? I'm honestly not sure...

pkmcr on 01/06/2012

Very good explanation and very timely for many. I have always set myself SMART objectives and have found them a good way to hold myself to account throughout the year.

katiem2 on 01/06/2012

Very smart tips, what a good plan to have a realistic plan and really put it down on paper, that makes sense to me, the ah ha moment, brings it all together and makes it happen. Thanks for the motivation. Katie

dustytoes on 01/04/2012

What a great page! You are so right about setting a time limit. I can do so much more when I know I've got limited time. I love your whole paragraph under the title "Attainable". Expand, learn and grow to match your goals... Yes! I practice that and although it takes time, it does work.

sheilamarie on 01/04/2012

Goals are so important if you want to get anything done. Thanks for the practical advice.

DrDarko on 01/04/2012

Thank you for this comment. I just love your idea of having a goal sheet right in front of you all the time. It is really a great advice.

I have to get a pin-board as soon as possible.

Marie on 01/04/2012

You write some very inspiring and practical articles. I love setting myself goals. I have a huge pinboard just above my computer where I have goal sheets printed out so I cross things off as I do them. It really motivates me and I find that I complete my goals quicker that way.

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