What are SMART Goals? How to Set Goals You Can Achieve

Do you struggle with reaching that impossible dream?

Ensure your success by setting Smart Goals. Developed in 1981 by George Doran for Management Review magazine, the SMART acronym became so beloved it is still in use today.

SMART stands for  Specific, Measurable, Achievable/Attainable, Relevant, Time Based Goals. It is a simple formula for ensuring that your goals can be reached. It can also help you distinguish between a goal and a vision.  Let's look more closely at each letter.

SPECIFIC: A goal should be specific. Think about those old movies in which someone makes a contract with the devil, and loses their soul on a technicality . . . You're making a contract with yourself to achieve your goal, so the more specific you can be about the vision of what you want, the more easily you will be able to focus your energies into success.

Does your goal answer the five Ws (who, what, where, why, when, or other constraints)? "I want a raise" is not specific. "I would like to receive a raise from my boss, paying me $60,000 salary for my current job as an executive assistant at Arthouse Designs by December 1st this year so that I can pay off my student loans in full before next year." This statement very clearly outlines who will need to be involved, what needs to change, why it is important, where this is taking place, and when it needs to happen. The speaker also clarifies that the raise is contingent upon her current job. These details are important when crafting a goal. What is your goal?

MEASURABLE: Ideally you want to be able to measure the progress toward your goal. If the success of your goal is based upon outside luck, then you either need to re-format how you are trying to achieve your goal, or you need to change your goal. For example, if the speaker above intends to get that raise by performing well and simply hoping she will be called in for a positive review, then her goal is not measurable, and she needs to reformat how she looks at it.  Write down the steps needed to complete your goal.

ACHIEVABLE: How can you make your goal happen? If you have a goal outside of the realm of your comfort, it's likely that your goal entails many steps. So begin first with the achievable goal underneath that umbrella.


If our speaker above was a regular assistant who had just begun a week ago and had never held an assistant job before, then the leap to execute assistant is a large one. Most likely she would need to do a number of tasks to become the person capable of holding the position she targeted. SMART goals traditionally encourage you to put aside the big dreams so that you can grow into them slowly.

From a Reiki standpoint, I'd argue that you only live once in this life. So it is more important to look at who you are, what your track record says you are capable of attaining, and how badly you want something, before deciding whether or not your goal is truly achievable. Make sure the steps needed to complete your goal are all achievable by you. If you require the help of the Dali Lama but you don't have access to him, then rewrite the pathway to success so that you no longer require the Dali Lama, and your action items are achievable.

RELEVANT: Does your goal really matter?  When you look at the larger scope of your life and all that you want, will this goal get you closer to that?  If not, re-think whether this is the SMART goal for you. Another word I like to use here is resonant. Does this goal resonate with your spirit, with who you are at this time, or who you would like to become?

TIME BASED: To make your goal truly SMART, give it a time line. The speaker above created an end date for the goal of a raise, but did not specify a timeline.  Take time to add work times and deadlines (or lifelines) next to your goals. This brings your goal out of the realms of dreams and possibilities, and right into your working calendar!

Next time I will cover what makes your goals S.E.X.Y. And as LMFAO knows, Sexy is for both men and women. . . ha ha!

Go Forth and Prosper!

blessings! ~Dailey


© 2012 Dailey Little. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided you do so in its entirety, including the copyright and this blurb: "Dailey Little is a Reiki Master and active practitioner. She teaches Reiki & other fun stuff through her private practice in Santa Rosa, CA. Join her joyful community for ReikiShares, Free Clinics, and eco-activism by signing up at her website, www.SantaRosaReiki.com"

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