How to make SMART goals for a meaningful life ?

Posted: 2018-01-10
Written by: EU Network
Category: Battle of ideas
Tagged: s.m.a.r.t. smart goals life life-hack future

Do you ever feel like you're working hard but not getting anywhere?  Many people spend their lives drifting from one job to another or rushing around trying to get more done while actually accomplishing very little. Goals are part of every aspect of life: how you conduct your relationships, what you want to achieve at work, the way you use your spare time etc. Everything comes down to priorities, and what you would like to accomplish in every aspect – whether you make a conscious choice or go with subconscious preferences.


Without setting goals or objectives, life becomes a series of chaotic happenings you don't control. You become the plaything of coincidence. Accomplishments are the result of a goal that was set at some point. A vision that was charted and realised. Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about your contentful  future, and for motivating yourself to turn your vision of this future into reality. The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life.

Researches show that most people usually set goals for self-improvement (changing bad habits, being healthier, etc), improving relationships, and to achieve something in the bigger picture of life.

A useful way of making goals more powerful is to use the SMART  tool. The first known use of the term occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T.


SMART goal setting brings structure and trackability into your goals and objectives. SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal's attainabililty. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. brought closer to reality.

Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.


In corporate life, SMART goal setting is one of the most effective and yet least used tools for achieving goals. For example, instead of having "to sail around the world" as a goal, it's more powerful to use the SMART goal "To have completed my trip around the world by December 31, 2020." Obviously, this will only be attainable if a lot of preparation has been completed beforehand.



1. Specific


Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it.  When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions: What exactly do you want to achieve? Why is this goal important? Who is involved? Where is it located? Which resources or limits are involved? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you'll get exactly that. Example:  imagine that you are currently a marketing executive, and you'd like to become head of marketing. A specific goal could be, "I want to​ gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of marketing within my organization, so that I can​ build my career​ and lead a successful team."


2. Measurable


It's important to have measurable goals. Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You'll need concrete evidence. Being happier is not evidence; not smoking anymore because you adhere to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and fat only once a week, is. Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want, too. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach. A measurable goal should address questions such as:  How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? Example: You might measure your goal of ​acquiring the skills to become head of marketing by determining that you will have ​completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within five years' time.


3. Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. The goal  should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as: How can I accomplish this goal? How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?


4. Relevant

Is reaching your goal relevant to you? This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it's important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you're still responsible for achieving your own goal. A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions: Does this seem worthwhile? Is this the right time? Does this match our other efforts/needs? Am I the right person to reach this goal?
Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?


5. Time Bound


Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward.Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install dead lines  for yourself and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible. A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions: When? What can I do six months from now? What can I do six weeks from now? What can I do today?

SMART is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It can also improve your ability to reach them by encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.


Writing your goals down is an essential part of the goal setting process. In today’s digital age, many of us have forgotten how useful it can be to record things on paper. Keeping a goal setting notebook will be very useful in helping you stay focused, motivated, and on track. Writing your goals down gives you a road map of sorts for achieving them. Remember to always write your goals in positive terms.

It is extremely important to see the obstacles and difficulties you face as challenges. When you look at such things as challenges, you will find it much easier to maintain a positive, motivated attitude. Additionally, you will enjoy the process of working towards your goal much more than you would otherwise. As you overcome each challenge, you will feel progressively more empowered and capable. Your self-confidence will soar. The harder you work for something, the greater you will feel when you achieve it.


Sintija Bernava
International Program Director, Non Governmental Organisation ‘’Donum Animus’’ (Latvia)
Non Governmental Organisation ‘’Donum Animus’’ is the only  organisation from Latvia holding Special Consultative Status of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations


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