How to Create S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

I have noticed over the years that I have been more productive and more successful throughout the year when I have written down my goals. Writing down my goals gives me a blueprint for where I should be going and where I should be focusing my time for the year. It’s a way to set my priorities.

I hear from too many people that their goals are either too overwhelming or they have goals but they are in their head and not written down. Or goals just don’t work for them.

Setting S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals can increase the likelihood of completing what you have set out to accomplish. Goals should support growth and achievement and push you outside of your comfort zone.

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Here’s how to set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals.


Goals need to be detailed, focused, and clearly written. Goals should not be broad in scope or too vague. What do you really want to accomplish? Try answering questions like who, what, where, when, why, and how.


Goals need to be clear and concrete in order to clearly determine if they have been accomplished. Goals should not be ambiguous. If your goals are not measurable, how will you know they are complete? Don’t set goals too high that you can’t achieve them but don’t set them too easy so they don’t push you. Remember, goals should feel a little uncomfortable. 


Goals need to be actionable. They should be big enough that there are steps involved. Goals are not things that could or might just happen to you. And they should not be something you just write down and forget. Spend time writing them down and thinking about some of the actions you might need to do so you can achieve these goals.  They should get you excited and get you to move towards completing them. 


Goals need to be possible under current conditions and be practical, reasonable, and achievable. Goals should not be too far out of reach. Set goals that are just outside your comfort zone. How do you know they are just outside your comfort zone? When you think about your goal does it make you feel a little uneasy? If you work hard and apply yourself will you be able to accomplish your goal? If you answered yes to these questions, then you are on the right path. If you don’t feel uneasy at all and it won’t take you much effort at all to accomplish your goal, then the goal is well inside your comfort zone. If your goal goes way past making you feel uneasy and requires not just effort but a miracle, then you may be well outside your comfort zone. Take some additional time to think about the goal you have set.


Goals need to have a time frame and a completion date. This will give you structure, allow you to monitor your progress, and eventually complete your goal. Goals should not be created without an end date because they will never get done. Set a date and create a sense of urgency. 


Goals need to be frequently reviewed and evaluated. Goals should not be written down and never looked at again. Not every goal works out how it was envisioned when it was written down. Take the time on a weekly and even a daily basis and evaluate how you are doing and ask yourself if accomplishing the goal is working out as planned. If not, what can you do to get your progress back on track?


Goals need to have rewards. This will help reinforce completing your goals. Goals should not just be completed and never thought about again. If you are taking the time to write down your goals and they take time to complete, then take the time to celebrate your accomplishment and reward yourself. The reward should match the effort it takes to complete your goal.


The above is just a basic introduction to goal setting. This type of information is useless unless you apply it and write down your goals for the year.

Oh, and if you are reading this blog post and it isn’t December or January, that is no excuse to not write down your goals using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal setting method. You just need to start, no matter what day of the year it is.

This article is a part of a series about how to successfully plan your year with intentionality.

What goal will you set using the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal method. Write your goal below.

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  1. […] #4 Set your goals. I use the S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goal method and I don’t set more than 5-7 goals at a time, otherwise, it could become unwieldy and overwhelming. If this is all new to you then I wouldn’t have more than 5 goals at any one time. And the goals you set should not be easy to achieve. They should push you outside your comfort zone and move your life forward in the direction you want it to go. Use the results from the Wheel of Life assessment to decide on what categories of your life you want to improve and also incorporate your word of the year. Click here to read more about all the details of SMARTER goals (4 minute read). […]

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