Fool-Proof Your Success with SMART Goal Setting


How many times have you set a goal and then didn’t achieve it? Do these sound familiar?

  • I want to lose weight
  • I need to save money
  • I should call my Mom more often
  • I should be nicer to strangers

How do you feel when you don’t achieve your goals – terrible, right? Well, what if you knew you couldn’t fail? What if you had a system that you could use that would increase the probability of your success? And more importantly, increase your confidence in your abilities. Most often, it’s not that YOU are a bad person, it’s just that your goal setting system sucks. That is where SMART goal setting comes in.

SMART goals are really quite simple. They are:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

We have adapted this from Attitude is Everything by Paul J. Meyer.


Specific – If you make your goals too general, you have a very small chance for success. Ask yourself the five “W” questions:

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where: Where is the location for your goal?
  • Which: Which are the requirements and constraints?
  • Why: Why are the specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal?

Measurable – Make sure you have concrete criteria for measuring progress toward each goal you set. If a goal is not measurable, how will you know when you achieve it?

Measuring progress is supposed to help you stay on track, reach target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement.

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable – To be excited about a goal, it should stretch you to achieve it, while not making it impossible or extreme. That is, the goals are neither out of reach nor below standard performance, as these may be considered meaningless. The theory states that an attainable goal may cause goal-setters to identify previously overlooked opportunities to bring themselves closer to the achievement of their goals.

An attainable goal will usually answer the question:

How: How can the goal be accomplished?

Relevant – Focus on goals that are most important to YOU. A Doctor’s goal to “bake ten cakes by noon” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound, but it lacks relevance!

Relevant goals drive you forward. A goal that aligns with your other goals (or family) would be considered a relevant goal. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them.

A relevant goal can answer yes to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Are you the right person?
  • Is this acceptable for correction?

Time-Bound – Without a timeline, there really is no goal – it must have a target date. If you desire to make a million dollars, but don’t set the timeline for it, it won’t be motivating. A deadline too far in the future is too easily put off. A goal that’s set too close is not only unrealistic, but it’s also discouraging.

Long Term Goals: long term goals are simply a description of what you want for yourself in the future — say about 3 to 5 years out.

Then set short term goals to reach that plan. Use the process of working your long term goals backwards into TODAY’s activities in order to achieve them.

  • What can I do 6 months from now?
  • What can I do 6 weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Think about your life. What goals do YOU want to achieve? How can Sprott Shaw help you attain those goals? It may be a good time to visit with one of our Career Advisors to help you make sense of all the information that is out there. And more importantly – to make a plan!

Need assistance?

Our advisors are happy to answer any questions.

Search Posts

Input your topic to begin your search:

Affiliations and Associations

Contact an Admissions Advisor for More Information Today!

Interested in taking a program at Sprott Shaw? 

Interested in taking a Program at Sprott Shaw?