Get SMART About Your Goals

“Many people fail in life, not for lack of ability or brains or even courage, but simply because they have never organized their energies around a goal.” – Elbert Hubbard

Get SMART About Your Goals

By Andrea Novakowski

I like to experiment and my favorite petri dish is myself. Over time, I’ve played with annual goal- setting along the entire spectrum, from creating SMART objectives to not having any specific goals at all. If your usual approach to goal setting hasn’t produced the results you want, you may be interested in my key findings:

Experiment #1.
There have been years I’ve elected not to make concrete goals for my business. I like to think I was curious to see how I’d do without a formal structure, but more likely it was my inner two-year-old stamping her feet and saying “no!”

It felt freeing, but it also felt ungrounded. I accomplished a few things, but I was never quite sure what I should be focusing on. Over time, I lost touch with what was important to me.

What I learned:
With so much stuff coming at all of us on a daily basis, we need specific goals to help remind us what really matters.

Experiment #2.
More often, I’ve followed the standard template for creating SMART goals. There are several different variations of this acronym, but for me, the one that resonates the most is:

S – specific
M – measurable
A – achievable
R – relevant
T – time bound

I had an easier time focusing on my objectives. I drew up a plan with milestones and regular check-ins, and this enabled me to fine-tune (or use a sledgehammer) as needed. When I used this methodology, I generally reached about 80 percent of my goals by the end of the year. Perhaps more importantly, I felt more grounded. This process helped me keep my bearings. I felt like I made better decisions about what to pay attention to and what to ignore!

What I learned:
Creating SMART goals can help ensure your goals are a reflection of what you really want and aren’t just something you came up with to appease the Goal Masters of the Universe.

Experiment #3.
This year, I’ve chosen to focus on the one aspect of SMART goals I continually have the most trouble with. That item would be R, for Relevant. I’ve noticed that in years when my goals really fit me, I was excited and energized. When I paid less attention to relevancy and tried to power through anyway, I lost my momentum midway through the year and ended up falling short.

Result and what I learned:
I’m looking forward to finding out!

If you’d like to experiment along with me this year, and you want to feel increased excitement and energy about your goals, choose one of the SMART goal descriptors that particularly challenges you or one that you’ve been avoiding.

Maybe Measurable is the part you struggle with. Maybe you never get around to creating benchmarks, and instead you tell yourself you’ll know it when you’re there. Play with this for a moment. Add a measurable aspect to your goal. It might be a certain number of new clients, a revenue target, or a new website launched on a certain date. A sample measurable goal could be:

I will acquire three new clients for my business within two months by asking for referrals, launching a social media marketing campaign, and networking with local businesses.

This measurable component might provide just the inspiration you need to keep going.


Read over the SMART goal descriptors above. Which item presents the biggest challenge for you? Instead of skimming over it, embrace it. Pay special attention to it. Notice if focusing on that step changes your behavior and your results.

Haven’t started on your goals yet? Download your Goal-Setting Kit to get started.