How to Set Attainable Goals: The SMART Strategy

As you look to transform your life through the achievement of your business and personal goals, you want to be sure that your goals are both meaningful and achievable. To do this, you need to be sure that you are creating your goals in the most effective manner. One of the ways that you can be sure your goals are effective drivers of forward motion is to utilize the SMART strategy.
You may have heard the term “SMART goals” thrown around as a buzzword, but the SMART strategy is much more than a passing workplace trend. It is a framework that you can use in the office and in your personal life to create attainable goals that give you tangible and intangible sensations of success.

Essentially, SMART goal setting provides a framework you can use as a solid foundation for anything you want to achieve. For a goal to meet the SMART criteria, it must be:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Achievable;
  • Relevant; and
  • Time Bound.
By meeting these five criteria, you can ensure that your goals move from the planning page into reality. Here are a few pointers on how to use each part of the SMART framework when setting attainable goals.

1.Get Specific

Being specific with your goals drives achievement because you spell out exactly what you want to achieve. Vague goals don’t drive you because there’s not enough direction in them to sustain extended effort. The more precisely you state your goal, the more likely you are to end up where you want to be. This is why “Pick up three sacks of trash from the park” is more effective than “Clean up the neighborhood” as a goal statement.


How do you know when you’ve completed a goal if you’re not measuring along the way? Use numbers, dates, and other tangible mark points to identify your end goal and track your progress along the way. That way when you meet your goal, you will know exactly what you have achieved.

3.Focus on the Achievable

When setting SMART goals, or any other kind of goal, you want to be sure you are pushing yourself while still remaining in the real world. Your goals need to be realistically achievable in order to truly attainable. Don’t set low hurdles, but be aware of your own limitations and the economic forces around you when you set your goals. You won’t push yourself to achieve a goal you secretly feel is impossible, but neither will you value a success that comes too easily.

4.Stay Relevant

To be relevant, your goals need to correspond with the direction you want to move in your work and personal life. You may have always dreamed of being a professional singer, but working toward that goal doesn’t help you achieve the promotion you want at work. Identify what is the most important to you, and ensure that your goals align to those priorities.

5.Use Time Boundaries

Like the measurement aspect, having time bound goals is another way to mark off your progress and realize your success. Without a timeframe, you have no deadlines to motivate you, and the lack of an end date also robs you of a chance to measure your progress and adjust your work as needed to meet the mark.

Using the SMART System in the Real World

After reading through the framework, setting SMART goals may seem like a fair bit of extra effort. However, they can make the difference between intentions and attained results.

Take the example of a business goal to bring in more revenue for the company.Standard goal statements:

  • Sell more products.
  • Get new clients.
  • Work harder to build accounts.

SMART goal statements:

  • Create three new sales packages by Wednesday to present to XYZ client to get additional product sales.
  • Instead of going for coffee at 10, use the time to call one new prospective client each day for the next month.
  • Analyze the existing accounts list to determine which 20% of the clients are bringing 80% of the revenues for the firm. Realign service priorities by year end to ensure those clients get the most attention to secure revenue flow going forward.
Which goal statements stand a better chance of actually being attained? The fluffy, vague, and unachievable goals, or the specific, measureable, and time bound goals? It’s a simplistic illustration, but you can see how using the SMART strategy helps with setting attainable goals. Now, see how it can change your achievement levels by taking the time today to ensure your top personal and business goals are as SMART as they need to be.