How SMART Are Your Goals?

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery (though in dispute)

The most successful people in life, whether in business, family, finances, or job search, are goal-focused. But just having a goal is not enough. You need to create a plan to reach your goal.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
– Alan Lakein

They key to creating the right plan to reach your goal, is to have the right goal to begin with. That is why you want a SMART goal;

Image courtesy of digitalart at

Image courtesy of digitalart at

SMART as in intelligent and intentional, but also SMART as in:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

– Specific. The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it.

A goal to “have more money” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having enough money to retire” is not specific enough.
A goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire” is better, but
a goal of “having $500,000 in a retirement account so I can retire at age 70” is best.

For Job Seekers, a goal of “finding a job” is not specific.
A goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank]” is better, but
a goal of “finding a job as a [fill in the blank] with one of these three companies” is best.

– Measurable. How will you know when you reach your goal? The more specific the goal, the easier it is to measure.

If you want to have $500,000 by the time you retire at age 70, simply calculate how much you need to save each year until retirement.

If you want a job as a [fill in the blank] and you get offered another job instead, you can decide whether to accept the job relative to your goal (is it the same type of position but with another company? Or a job with a target company but in another role? Or simply what you can get for now, but you’ll keep looking?).

“What gets measured gets done.”
– Tom Peters

– Achievable. A goal that is out of reach, no matter how well planned, will never be met.

Saving $500,000 for retirement might be achievable, but $5Million may not be.

A goal to be a surgeon because it looked cool on “Scrubs,” but you cannot maintain grades to qualify for medical school, may be out of reach. But perhaps you would be satisfied with another role in a hospital or clinic.

– Relevant. A goal that is not relevant to your values, your interests, and your lifestyle, no matter how achievable, will be an empty victory.

Saving enough money to buy an RV Camper, but you don’t like to drive (or to camp) would be a wasteful purchase.

– Timely. When do you want to achieve your goal? How much time is there between now and then? What do you need to do at each time point? And what do you do if you start to fall behind?

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
– Napoleon Hill

SMART goals will help you create an actionable plan, and greatly increase the chances that you can achieve what you want.

What are your experiences with goal-setting? Please share in the comments below!

Connect with me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Success doesn’t come to you. You go get it.


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