The Easy Guide: What are SMART Goals and How to Set Them Correctly

Studies show that only 8% of the people who set resolutions on New Year’s Eve achieve them.

Setting goals sounds like a simple enough task, but it’s so easy to make mistakes.

Here’s an easy guide to show you how to set goals the right way and accomplish them.

Part 1

How to Set Goals That You’ll Actually Follow: The S.M.A.R.T Method

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

George T. Doran introduced the concept of S.M.A.R.T goals in 1981. While he was working as a consultant for the Washington Water Power Company, he tried to come up with a tool that would improve the productivity of employees and help them complete tasks more effectively.

The acronym stands for:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Relevant
T = Timely

Let’s explore each of these and see how we can make the most of the process of setting goals.

Part 2

How to Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

  1. Specific (S): Set Specific Goals

    One of the most important things when setting goals is to ensure that they are specific. For instance, instead of saying that you want to “get more customers,” you could say that you want to “drive 50 qualified leads through your ads each month.”
    One simple way to set specific goals is to answer to the five ‘Ws’: who? what? when? where? why?Who: Who do you need to involve in the project to achieve your goals?
    What: Determine what you want to accomplish down to the smallest detail.
    When: Set a specific time frame during which you want to achieve your goals.
    Where: This question doesn’t always apply, but if your goals are tied to a location, then make sure to include it.
    Why: What is the reason behind your goal? Be careful, though: you can’t give superficial reasons. For example, if you want to launch a business just because you want to get rich, you may not find the right motivation to commit to this purpose. You need something that speaks to your values and system of belief.

  2. Measurable (M): Ensure That Your Goals Are Measurable

    How will you determine if your tactics were successful? What metrics are you going to use to measure your efforts? To ensure that your goal is tangible, find a way to track and monitor your progress.

  3. Achievable (A): Set Goals That You Can Actually Achieve

    Sure, every entrepreneur would like to drive tens of thousands of customers during their first months, but that’s not very realistic. Dream big, but make sure that your goals are, in fact, attainable. If you set the bar too high, you might get discouraged by how slowly you’re advancing and give up before you can make a significant change.

  4. Relevant (R): Set Goals That Are Relevant

    Make sure that your goals are relevant to your business or project.

  5. Timely (T)

    You need to set a clear time frame for your goals. Otherwise, you may never feel the pressure to achieve them. Don’t just say that you want to lose 25 pounds. Commit to achieving this goal in a specific time frame, for example in the next eight months.

Part 3

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Example

Let’s imagine that you plan to launch a new project. Following the S.M.A.R.T. method, your goals should look something like this:

  • Specific: “We will launch a mobile app by the end of Q2 that will make it easier for prospects to shop our online store. The process will involve the software development, design, and marketing teams.”
  • Measurable: “We want to get 1,000 downloads in the first three months.”
  • Achievable: “We will build the app in-house and launch it by the end of the second quarter.”
  • Relevant: “Ensuring that our customers have a flawless experience regardless of the device they’re using is vital to the success of our business.”
  • Timely: “To get 1,000 downloads in the first 3 months, we will need to focus on creating a sound digital marketing campaign that will help us promote the new app.”


Here’s a metaphor that could help you understand the importance of setting goals:
Imagine that you’re in a small rowboat and you are trying to get from one side of the lake to the other. The rudder on the boat allows you to set the direction and determine where you go. If you stay focused and keep the rudder steady, then you’re going to move forward. But, if you just move it chaotically, you’re going to end up rowing in circles.

As you’ve probably realized, the rudder represents your goals. If you commit to goals, then your chances of advancing and accomplishing your objectives are significantly higher. But, if you switch between goals and aren’t clear about what you want to achieve, then you will never follow through with them.

But there’s another important element that will help you get on the other side of the lake: the oars. While the rudder determines your direction, the oars are what help you make progress. So, if the rudder represents your goals, the oars represent the system that helps you achieve them.
Smart goals is that system.