Professional Development

How to Set SMART Goals

Many people have goals that they aspire to, but often they do not achieve the goals they set for themselves. Years pass, and even though the desire to attain the goals remains strong, they still never manage to achieve it. Usually it is not a person’s actions that prevent them from achieving a goal, but rather it’s the goals they set for themselves that are the problem. Many people set goals that are too vague. These types of goals, such as “earn more money”, are not specific enough to be attainable.

Setting SMART Goals

There are five criteria that a goal must encompass, in order for it to be successful.


Goals that are specific are much more likely to be achieved than generic goals. When writing a goal, consider exactly what it is you want and how you are going to go about achieving it. An example of a vague goal is “increase my earnings”, whereas an example of a specific goal would be “increase my income to $50,000 by gaining the necessary qualifications for a career in medicine”.


When working towards a goal, you need to know how to keep track of your progress. In other words, your progress towards your goal needs to be measurable. An example of an immeasurable goal would be “lose weight”. An example of a measurable goal would be “lose fourteen pounds” or “drop a dress size”. Those two goals are measurable because you have a set number to work from. If you weigh yourself and you have lost fourteen pounds, you know you have achieved your goal. Similarly, if you can now fit into a smaller size in clothes, you know you have reached your goal.


When you set a goal, you need to know that you can attain it. The problem many people have is that they set a goal, and then realize that the goal requires more effort than they initially thought, and it overwhelms them. When setting the goal, think of what you would have to do to achieve it. You may need to break some goals down in order to achieve them.


You should never set goals too low for yourself, but they must be realistic. It must not be a goal that sets you up for failure. If you set an unrealistic goal, and you fail at it, this can damage your motivation. Instead, set smaller goals, that you know you can reach, and update the goal at each milestone.

Time Framed

Many people do not put dates on goals, as people think that dates make failure more likely. Putting a date on a goal gives you a deadline to work towards. It can also help to keep you motivated and makes the goal seem more urgent.