7 SMARTER Ways to Reach Your Goals

Do you ever wonder why some people seem to succeed at almost everything they do? The answer is simple; they make a plan and set goals. Whether their plan is to lose weight, quit smoking, get married or get a promotion, they set goals. They get creative by putting pen to paper and formulating a plan to achieve their goals. Not just any goals but SMARTER goals.

SMARTER stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time limited, evaluate, and review. Goal setting is an important and powerful component to health and success when implemented with care.  Let’s take a closer look at the seven components of SMARTER goals…


1. Goals Should be SPECIFIC

Having vague, undefined goals makes success extremely difficult to achieve. How will you know you have achieved your goal if you can’t define it? An example of a vague goal would be to get in shape. A specific goal is more detailed and addresses the 6 “W” questions; who, what, where, when, which, why.

An example of a specific goal would be: I will lose 25-pounds in 3-months by joining a women’s fitness gym, working out 3-days a week, and reducing my caloric intake to 1200-calories per day. Your goals should be well defined and clear. They should reflect exactly what you want to achieve.

2. Goals Should be MEASURABLE

Each of your goals should be broken down into specific, measurable outcomes. You need to write down exactly what you will need to do to achieve your goals and what you will see and feel once you have achieved them. What concrete evidence will you need to be able to proclaim victory?

You need to be able to measure your progress to know whether you’re on track or need to make adjustments. The goal of getting in shape is too vague to measure. Losing 25-pounds is a measurable goal. However, if you want to lose 25-pounds in 2-days it’s neither realistic nor achievable.

3. Goals Should be ACHIEVABLE

Make sure the goals you set are attainable. They may meet all the parameters of SMARTER goal setting but may not be achievable. Sometimes all it takes is one small adjustment to transform your goal into something attainable.

For instance, you may have a goal of losing those stubborn 25-pounds before your sister’s wedding but you may not be able to do so because the wedding is this weekend. Therefore, you may want to change your immediate goal to purchasing undergarment shapewear for your sister’s wedding and then give yourself 3-months to lose those 25-pounds.

4. Goals should be REALISTIC

You’re setting yourself up for failure if your goals are unrealistic. This in turn can play havoc on your self-esteem and discourage you from further attempts. If you plan to quit your pack a day habit, forget the bottle of wine at dinner, go vegan and run your first 10-kilometer marathon all starting tomorrow, you’re in for a shock.

Sudden change even if it involves replacing bad habits with good ones, is hard on your system. In fact if you have any underlying cardiovascular disease, making such extreme changes all at once can prove dangerous to your health. Don’t skip the smaller steps on the way to the bigger prize and don’t forget to pace yourself.

5. Goals should be TIMELY

Goals need to have a completion date otherwise they’re nothing more than pipe dreams. A deadline lends a sense of urgency to your plan and helps motivate you. It gives you something to strive towards and focus on. Telling yourself you want to lose those extra 25-pounds ‘one of these days’ is a sure way to keep it firmly planted on your derriere for many more months to come.

Writing down on paper that you want to lose 25-pounds in 3-months by October 25 elevates your goal to priority status. This will help keep you on track and prevent you from being led astray by the normal distractions of day to day life.

6. Goals should be EVALUATED

On your completion date, you should take a good hard look at your results. Did you achieve your goal? If you did, then congratulate yourself on a job well done, but don’t leave it at that. Write your next SMART goal immediately.

Don’t put it off otherwise you may stagnate instead of growing and blossoming.  If you didn’t achieve your goal, ask yourself why not? Was it specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely? Be honest. Did you bite off a bit more than you could chew? Don’t be discouraged. Use this as a learning opportunity to get on the right track.

7. Goals should be REVISED

This is where many people fall short. They’ve done all the hard work of thinking through and writing down their SMART goals then file them away and never look at them again. The completion date comes and goes, the goals are forgotten somewhere in a desk drawer and nothing worthwhile gets done.

Don’t let his happen to you. It may be helpful to share your goals with a friend or relative who can track your progress and keep you accountable.  Once your completion date arrives, pay attention. Evaluate your results and revise your goals. Have fun and feel confident as you create your success plan for the future.


Debbie McGauran

Debbie has been a registered nurse for over 25 years with experience in geriatrics, medicine, surgery and mental health. For the past four years, she has practiced as a crisis nurse in the ER. Debbie lives on a farm with her family, two dogs, a cat, and four horses.