Using SMART Goals in Your Job and Life

Whether you are setting goals for your job or your personal life, learning how to set them properly is the key to success. Poorly defined goals lead to failure, whereas properly defined goals can lead to success. SMART is an acronym that can help you create and reach your goals, making sure they are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

Creating goals that follow these terms could set you up for success in a host of areas in your life.

Specific Goals

A goal worth attaining should be specific. Think about the world of online marketing for a moment. Saying your goal is to “create a blog that brings in income” is not specific because it leaves too many questions unanswered. Instead, set a goal to create a blog that will draw 1,000 readers a day and bring in $100 a week in ad revenue.

Measurable Goals

A goal that can’t be measured can’t be reached; without a clearly defined endpoint, it’s difficult to know when you’ve actually completed your goal. In the earlier example, saying you will “create a blog that brings in income” is not measurable. How much money is defined as income? It doesn’t take many days in the online marketing world to understand that sometimes money comes in a few cents at a time. Would a 5-cent payment be defined as income in your mind?

Attainable Goals

Before you set a goal, do some research in your field to see what is attainable. A student studying for a bachelor’s degree may set a goal of completing it in two semesters. While this would be nice, it is not something a student can actually attain. A bachelor’s degree, even in an accelerated or online program, takes longer than two semesters from start to finish. Identifying attainable timelines in which to meet your goal will allow you the appropriate amount of time to complete the tasks outlined.

Realistic Goals

No matter what your goals are, you’ll need to be realistic. Part of the job of a goal is to help you spur yourself toward success, but if a goal is too lofty, it could diminish your enthusiasm and energy. However, “realistic” is not a synonym for “easy.” Your goal should push you to achieve more than you have before, but it should also be reasonable and practical.


Goals provide the most motivation when they can be reached in a short, measurable period of time. This is often seen in the education sector. A student may have a goal to attain a degree by a projected graduation date, and he will work hard for several semesters to achieve that goal. In online marketing, your goal may be to reach a certain income or traffic milestone at the end of a month of hardcore marketing efforts. The sooner you can reach a milestone, the sooner you can feel that sense of satisfaction that comes from successfully completing a SMART goal.

Using the SMART method to set, work toward, and meet your goals can give you the structure and guidance you need to make positive changes in your life. There’s more than one way to fulfill your aspirations—but building a plan is the first step to success.

  • John

    Hey Jesse,

    I think setting attainable goals is the most important out of the 5 you’ve listed here. It doesn’t make any sense trying to set a goal that is impossible to reach. Then when you don’t reach your goal it can damage your confidence and make you start doubting yourself.

  • Margaret

    Nice post with really beneficial tips. Surely one can bring significant improvements his life by following your tips. Its a great truth that effective initial planning is necessary in order to achieve the goals. When the plan is fixed then executing the goals will be much easier.

  • Terence

    I agree with you that goals have to be realistic and achievable. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    • Marlo Morrison

      So true, goals have to be realistic and achievable. Sometimes, it’s going to be tough and it will test your determination to achieve such goals, but remembering them as a challenge would encourage you to go through and will help you know what’s best for you.

  • Vernette Carbon

    I love your post. you have precise Ideas that I did easy catches up and I would love to impose that on everyday living. thanks!

  • Robert

    Very inspiring post, living life without a goal is worthless. Everyone should have an aim in life and should try their best to achieve that.

  • BuySellWordpress

    I prefer placing only realistic goals and try to achieve them in time. But I know so many people who prefer unrealistic ones, and they are always upset when they don’t get them… I can’t understand the reason of it

  • Marina Lane

    I think you don’t really have to categorize the goals that way. I think, goals should be simply be attainable, specific, measurable, realistic and timely for you to achieve all of them. If it does not fit the category, it will just turn out to be a dream– something you will never be able to reach.

  • Katie Woodard

    I have 2 career goals at the moment. One is to have my blog receiving at least 1000 views per day in the next 2 months. (I’m at approximately 400/day as of now). Also, I play poker for a living and my goal is to make at least $1200 per week from that starting next week. All this goal making gets me excited and feeling ambitious. lol

  • Amanda Silver

    setting your goals correctly is a matter of knowledge and organization, working to achieve them is a matter of passion and finally meeting them is the result everybody wants

  • Strategyard

    We use SMART goals at work, but using it in your personal life may be an overkill.

  • Mika Castro

    Thanks for the article. This is such a good tutorial on creating lasting success through goal setting.
    Keep up the good work

  • Michelle

    I have been thinking of ways to enhance the success of completing my goals. I admit that I have many goals that I failed to accomplish last year. I think I made the mistake of not making them more realistic. Right now I have a specific goal in mind; my strategy is to break it down into monthly goals to lessen the complexity. I am very optimistic this year and I am glad to have learned SMART.

  • executive gifts

    As a leader, you’re used to setting goals. But are the goals you’re setting really as powerful as they could be?

    Goals help us to cut through the clutter of a crowded mind and keep our thoughts on the things that matter most. They help us focus. To be effective, you can’t just set random goals the way many people do—long lists of wishes that pop up at random and eventually fall away. You can be smarter than that with your goals; wiser.

  • executive gifts

    Think big. Your goals should inspire you to stay on the path to your dreams, not lock you into a pattern of ticking off bite-sized action items from here to retirement.

    This may be the biggest differentiator between SMART and WISE thinking. Spending too much time and energy boxing your objectives into a hard and fast formula can squeeze the life right out of them. Some examples:

    SMART Goal: Schedule team building and strategic planning off-site by end of January.

    WISE Goal:Transform my staff into a team of inspired, empowered partners.

    SMART Goal: Leave work by 7 p.m. three times a week, organize my office and find new planning system within one month from today.

    WISE Goal: Feel in control of my life.

  • Bayard Coulombe

    Wonderful and inspiring post! I also believe that goals must be written and divided into short term and long term goals. If we write them and also write whether we were able to achieve them or not we will be able to judge whether we have set a realistic goal.

  • Maiah

    Hi Jesse,
    Interesting post about goal setting. Not too many people actually set their goals in life, not even for their jobs. But if they only realize how important it is to set realistic goals, they’d know how powerful it could be to attain fulfillment in their job and in their life.

  • Misha Krasnotsvetov

    I think the last goal is one of the most important ones. More damage is done by indecision, than by a wrong decision. Just execute your strategy on time, because in a few weeks/months it will not be useful.

  • Gagan Arora

    to set a proper goal in our life for mange job is very much helpful for everyone…..

  • Smarty

    Exactly, goals have to be S.M.A.R.T! Lot’s of people keep forgeting especially the R-realistic. Great reading, thanks.

    • Feye Johnson

      You’re right smarty, people tend to forget to be realistic in setting goals and be more of idealistic but makes it harder to achieve them. I know it’s tough to get what you planned but keeping a move forward and adopting to constructive changes in business trends will help you think what’s best for your business. SMART mindset is a big help!

  • Kee G.

    Yes! I agree! Hard work will be worth less if it has no direction.

  • Healthcare IT solutions

    Thats a nice post Jesse.In order to run a successful business, setting up a goal is very much essential.The person should know where the company is at present and where he sees it in future.
    There should also be short term and long term goals .Based on them strategies and planning should be done.

  • Online Chemist UK

    Effective and informative ideas for goal setting. Goals are always the key to achieve success. It is also compulsory to know where we are going. Goals are really more then just starting point. If we don’t decide our goals how we struggle to hit it?

  • OsCommerce Hosting

    Thanks for sharing your insights! I have there are no unachievable goals, you can get whatever you want if you work hard and really want this!

  • Joe

    I’ve been trying to get my goals accomplished for years now. In the beginning, I laughed at systems like GTD or daily tracking, but I’ve come full circle and realized the old quote is true, “what gets measured gets done.”

  • Zia Courtney

    Great insights and I am most agree of you here. Goal setting is the first thing to consider in achieving thins we want in life. This is truly smart and thanks for sharing this!

  • Rajkumar Jonnala

    Well when i first entered blogging i have set some of the goal which will be full filled only when i make some good income through it. Although your second paragraph is very inspirational as iam pursuing degree bachelor.

    Thanks for the awesome share.

  • Aaslin

    thanks for the valuable quotes. getting into a job has to be noted for some reality concerns, you have exposed them more convincingly. promoting your blog also has to be thought of some goals that are measurable. thanks again for your share.

  • Kyla

    Yup a goal should be achievable and realistic. And thanks for telling the abbreviation of SMART. I never knew that it had an abbreviation,