What Are Smart Goals?
How to Write Smart Goals?


What are smart goals? An effective goal setting technique that helps translate a specific aim or aspiration into a concrete path to its fulfillment.

How Do Smart Goals Work?

Writing smart goals helps maximize the benefits of goal setting by sending a crystal clear message to the subconscious mind. They allow us to specify our exact aims.

The clearer the message our subconscious mind receives, the more easily its resources are mobilized to achieve the results we want.

Dispelling vagueness is a key benefit of smart goal setting. There are many more goal setting benefits to this technique.

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What Are Smart Goals? The Acronym...

S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for five ingredients of effective goal setting. Smart goals are...

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Trackable (or time sensitive)

You can use these exact categories in your goal setting journal. Following is an explanation of the five key elements to writing effective smart goals.

Smart goals and objectives need to...

Keys to Writing Smart Goals:
Be Specific

To ensure effective goal setting you don't want to frame your goal in general terms. You want to be specific.

If your goal is to lose weight, for example, your smart goal statement won't be 'I want to lose weight'. A specific target might be to lose 40 pounds. That's your smart goal.

Being specific also means specifying a location or circumstance where you can see yourself - goal realized. It could be a new years eve party, a birthday, on a flight to a desired destination - anything at all that provides an inspiring context to your goal.

Now that you've specified an aim to shoot for it's time to make it measurable in a concrete way.

Keys to Writing Smart Goals:
Be Measurable

What are smart goals that are measurable?

So your specific aim is to lose 40 pounds. But how will you measure it? How are you going to know you've achieved your goal?

For the specific example of weight-loss, you could measure your results in some of the following ways:

  • Use a scale.

  • Use an old pair of jeans (or other clothing item) that you used to be able to fit into, but no longer can.

  • Use your belt. Aim for a specific tightening hole on your belt.

  • Use your eyes. If you're really aiming to lose a lot of weight, your visual target may be to see the top of your feet. If you're aiming to get back your 'beach body' by cutting your muscle-to-fat, you can use 'seeing my abs' as your visual que.

Be creative. Make sure that your measurement of choice inspires you.

Stepping onto the scale to see your weight-loss-target achieved, may not be as inspiring to you as the image of being able to fit into a favorite old pair of jeans.

What you desire most - will inspire most. Choose accordingly.

Remember: inspiration leads to realization.

Keys to Writing Smart Goals:
Be Attainable

What are smart goals that are attainable?

Your smart goals and objectives should be specific, measurable and attainable. Obviously, right? But sometimes it may be hard to gauge exactly what qualifies as an attainable goal and what doesn't.

Your goal should be a stretch - but you don't want to stretch too far, too soon. The difference between having a good stretch and a pulled ligament can be a fine line to walk. You most definitely want an inspiring goal to shoot for, but you also want to pace yourself.

Given the right circumstances, and enough time, almost any goal is attainable. With one caveat - if you want it badly enough. You need to know yourself and have a good idea of what attaining your goal actually requires. 

As Sun Tzu says in 'The Art of War'...

"Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories."

What's an attainable goal for you will depend on knowing your own natural strengths, weaknesses and inclinations. Knowing what inspires you to the core, also factors in. This is knowing thy self.

The other part of the equation is knowing thy 'enemy'. This is to make a clear-headed assessment of what achieving your goal really entails. This usually requires extensive research and/or true-to-life experience with your goal.

Know yourself and your goal (San Tzu would tell us) and victory is virtually guaranteed.

The next step in writing smart goals helps further solidify the attainability of your goal...

Keys to Writing Smart Goals:
Be Realistic

Being 'realistic' can be tricky.

If you've ever had a dream, ambition or goal in life that 'threatened' to take you 'beyond your station', you've definitely heard the admonition: 'you need to be realistic.' Bang! Your dreams, goals and ambitions shot down.

People offering this form of advice are usually well-meaning, not often realizing just how limited their view has become. This is not the 'realism' we're looking at here!!

You don't want to detrimentally limit yourself. You want to set smart goals that end in realization, not defeat.

What are smart goals that are realistic in a true sense? Realistically setting smart goals is something that only you can determine. It is an inside-out assessment. Nobody else can do it for you, however well meaning and caring they may happen to be.

Being realistic in this case means taking an honest look at two things (this assessment assumes you already have a fairly good idea of who you are and what your goal truly entails, as outlined in the 'be attainable' section above): 

  • What is your level of will and determination? 

    Determination and willpower come easier when you're truly inspired. In fact, what masquerades as indomitable willpower and determination can prove a hollow shell without the backbone of inspiration to draw strength from.

    Ask yourself: How badly do I want this? Am I willing to do what it takes... for as long as it takes? Does my goal exact a price I am ready, willing and able to pay? How inspired am I by the mere thought of achieving my goal?

    Being truly inspired by a goal means that whether or not we actually achieve it, we've decided that it's a goal unequivocally worth striving for. Your determination and willpower will be there to back you up.

  • What are the objective circumstances you're currently operating from? 

    Do current circumstances allow you to pursue your goal in the way you want? If yes, your goal is realistic.

    What happens if you determine that your circumstances will most likely prevent you from pursuing your goal to its conclusion - your inspiration, willpower and determination notwithstanding?

    In this case you have two choices. You can modify your goal to make it realistic for the circumstances you're in. Or, you can choose to change your circumstances to better accommodate your goal.

Completed the above? You have made a comprehensive assessment of your smart goal and are satisfied it's realistic and most definitely within reach. Now give yourself a timeline for the achievement of your goal...

Keys to Writing Smart Goals:
Be Trackable

What are smart goals that can be tracked?

Trackable goals are time-sensitive, meaning that they indicate a specific point in time at which your goal is achieved.

Giving your goals a deadline helps set your commitment in motion. It sets the stage not only with a measure of urgency, but also with the excitement that comes from knowing when your desired result will be yours.

It allows you to 'taste it' as the deadline draws near. It also reminds and motivates you to put things into action sooner, rather than later.

Now let's see how the final smart goal that ran the course of this article might look like...

Putting It All Together

Let's put things together now, taking the five key elements to construct an example of what a completed smart goal might look like.

Using the goal running the course of this article as an example, your final smart goal might read something like this:

"It's September 27th, 2016. It's my 45th birthday and I'm fitting comfortably into my favorite pair of jeans for the first time in 20 years! Celebrating with family and friends I look and feel fabulous. I am at peace."

Now that's a smart goal!

From Inspiration to Realization

Remember to bring inspired creativity to your smart goals - not only in writing them, but also to their pursuit. Inspiration leads to realization. Realistically speaking, it's the only path to follow!

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