February 21


How To Use S.M.A.R.T. Goals

By Robert Grossman

February 21, 2017

goal setting, Goals, SMART goals

The other day, I was leading a group through a goal setting exercise. The attendees were given the instructions to create three goals they wanted to accomplish in the next 90 days.  The goals must be specific, attainable and measurable.

A few of the participant’s goals were anything but specific, achievable and quantifiable.  They shared their three goals in long drawn out sentences with a lot of emotions, hopes and a lack of clarity. When asked “how will you know when you’ve accomplished their goals,” they really could not articulate a means of measuring, specifically, if they won or not.

I left the meeting realizing it was not too long ago when my goal setting muscles were pretty weak.  I also realized even though I am much better at setting goals today,  I still needed to work those muscles out regularly and collaborate with a coach to challenge me and to overcome obstacles getting in my way.

It Starts With Visioning

When you have a vision for your life, it makes everything easier, from goal-setting, prioritizing actions and day-to-day activities to making tough decisions. Also, when your goals align with the vision you have for your life – and what’s most important to you -I bet you’re more motivated.

It’s a rewarding process to identify your overarching vision and then chunk that vision down into smaller, more meaningful goals for you to move forward. These visioning exercises help you to envision and set the scene for a bigger version of your life, as well as to provide essential input to the goal-setting process.

What Are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for:

  • Specific (the more specific you are, the easier your goal is to achieve)
  • Measurable (so you know when you have reached it)
  • Action-oriented (i.e., you can DO something about it! Is it within your control?, i.e., Winning the lottery is not a “SMART” goal)
  • Realistic (Goals need to be both challenging to inspire you AND realistic, so you set yourself up for success)
  • Time-Bound (has a deadline)

Once you’ve written down your SMART goal, here are questions which will dramatically increase your success rate of achieving the goal.

  • Motivation
    • Why I want this goal?
    • What is the pain of not achieving this goal?
    • Achieving this goal will also help me in other areas such as…
  • Obstacles
    • What obstacles can I foresee which may sabotage me in reaching this goal?
    • What is the benefit to me of NOT achieving this goal?
  • Set Goal Level
    • Minimum
    • Target
    • EXTRAordinary
  • How will I need to BE different (a worthwhile goal often requires us to look at/do things differently)?
    • I will start doing…
    • I will STOP doing…
    • I will need to be someone who is…
  • Moving Forward (e.g., people, personal qualities, information, knowledge, skills, finance, etc.)
    • Resources available?
    • Resources I will need?
  • Taking Action (make these things EASILY achievable, so you feel good about taking action!)
    • Three steps I will complete in the next WEEK that move me closer to my goals (By When?)
    • Three steps I can complete in the next MONTH that move me closer to my goals (By When?)


Stated in the POSITIVE.  Whenever we say “I want to stop biting my fingernails” our brain has first to build a picture of what you DON’T want – bitten fingernails – in order not to do it. Try NOT thinking of an alligator biting your toe…


Eg. “I have healthy fingernails” rather than “I want to stop biting my nails.”

Eg. “I weigh 150lbs” rather than “I want to lose 20lbs.”

Stated in the PRESENT TENSE. This helps the brain to assume you will be successful!


Eg. On 30th September I have healthy fingernails/have a new job/am running a mile in 8 minutes

I would love to read your comments about this article.  If you found it valuable, please share it with your social networks.

Robert Grossman

About the author

Robert S. Grossman is a business growth consultant, trainer/facilitator, coach and speaker with decades of experience. Having achieved success in both the corporate world and as an entrepreneur, Robert has helped hundreds of companies with high-performance strategic consulting, training and communications. He coaches business leaders, CEOs, presidents, entrepreneurs and sales professionals.

Robert brings 30 years of experience as a business owner, executive coach, Vistage chair and an award-winning communicator.

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