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Super Successful: How To Go About Setting SMART Goals

Updated: Dec 18, 2020

crossing the finish line

Setting a goal aids in keeping track of your performance, this helps you stay focused. This article gives a detailed step by step approach to achieving this.

The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.

– Bill Copeland

"Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."

-- Winston S. Churchill

Have you ever felt that all your hard work is not yielding any significant results? It could be that you are not setting SMART goals in your endeavors. Setting SMART objectives allows you to know exactly what your goal is and how to go about achieving it.

Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, manage your time effectively and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.

SMART Means What?

SMART is an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting.

Its criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives concept in his 1954 book, The Practice of Management. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Since then, others have written substantial articles on it.

So SMART stands for:






Professor Rubin also notes that the definition of the SMART acronym may need updating to reflect the importance of efficacy and feedback. However, some authors have expanded it to include extra focus areas; SMARTER, for example, includes Evaluated and Rewarding.

Applying the SMART Module

Paul J. Meyer, businessman, author, and founder of Success Motivation International, describes the characteristics of SMART goals in his 2003 book, "Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond."

1. Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise, you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions:

What do I want to accomplish?

Why is this goal important?

Who is involved?

Where is it located?

Which resources or limits are involved?


Let's say you are a sales executive and you set a goal of achieving 20,000 USD in sales by the end of the week. This is specific.

2. Measurable

It's important to have measurable goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

How much?

How many?

How will I know when it is accomplished?


In the above goal, 20,000 USD can be measured

3. Ambitious

Your goal also needs to be ambitious meaning it should be greater than what you normally would achieve without going the extra mile in order to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an ambitious goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it and it should be achievable.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:

How can I accomplish this goal?

How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?


If 20,000 USD is much higher than the average weekly sales then it is ambitious. The next question will be, is it achievable.


Beware setting goals that someone else has power over has its limitations but you have to prepare yourself and do what is required to get the opportunity to achieve the goal.

4. Realistic

You have to ensure that your goal is realistic, matters to you, and is also aligned with other relevant goals. We all require support in achieving our goals, but retaining control over them is also pertinent. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone toward your goal, but that you're still responsible for achieving it.

A realistic goal should answer "yes" to these questions:

Does this seem worthwhile?

Is this the right time?

Does this match my other efforts/needs?

Am I the right person to reach this goal?

Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?


You might want to achieve the 20,000 USD sales in a week, but is it realistic based on the products and services you offer, and is the current economic situation conducive for the goal to be achieved.

5. Time-bound

Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work towards. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:



In the goal above the deadline is a week, so the goal is time-bound.


SMART is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus, and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It also improves your ability to reach your goals by encouraging the definition of your objectives and setting a deadline. It can be easily implemented by anybody and in any scenario.

Of course in achieving any goal in life you are bound to encounter objections from other people. Read our article on How To Overcome Objections.

SMART is an effective tool with quite a number of interpretations of the acronym's meaning, the most common one is that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Apply the SMART tool in your life to aid you in achieving your goals within a set timeline. It helps with keeping you focused, easily track your performance, and keeps you motivated.

That's all folks.

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