Problems vs. Solutions: SMART goals

SMART is an acronym of adjectives related to goal setting. Each letter represents something your goal should have.

  • S is for specific
  • M is for measurable
  • A is for actionable
  • R is for realistic
  • T is for time-bound

It’s amazing how easy it is to set a goal that isn’t SMART.

Like Lose 10 pounds or Make more money this year.

Do you see the problem with these goals?

Lose 10 pounds isn’t SMART because your goals need a due date. It’s not enough to say Lose 10 pounds. You need to be explicit with a deadline: Lose 10 pounds by July 30th.

If you make a dollar more this year than last, did you accomplish your goal? A dollar is probably not what you meant when you said “make more money this year.” This goal isn’t SMART because it’s not measurable.

I’ve heard some say goal setting is passé. Or that SMART goals, in particular, are too rigid.


Setting a goal announces to the universe: I want THIS for myself. And setting a SMART goal means you’re giving yourself the greatest chance for success in actually achieving what you want.

Let’s vet a goal you have to make sure it’s as SMART as it can be. Get a goal in mind that you have for the coming year.

Is your goal specific? Are you crystal clear about what you want to accomplish? Improve my life is a not a specific goal. Read 24 non-fiction books in 2017 is specific.

Is your goal measurable? This is about making it clear when you’ve accomplished your goal. “Reading more books in 2017” may make you smarter overall, but that phrasing is not a SMART goal. Quantify your goal to make it measurable.

Is your goal actionable? All your goals will require action and your language should reflect that. You want to start your goal with an action verb.

Is your goal realistic? I’m all for stretch goals that are motivating and inspiring. At the same time, your goals should be realistic and attainable so you set yourself up for success.

Is your goal time-bound? This means giving your goals a due date. An explicit deadline will keep you on track and make clear where you stand in terms of achieving your goal.

Think about the outcomes you want in the coming year. Are your goals as SMART as they can be?