A simple platform for goal setting, by using these 5 basic criteria, anyone can achieve their goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.
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Specific (precise, distinct, definitive)

Measurable (quantitative, calculable, gaugeable)

Achievable (attainable, feasible)

Relevant (practical, rational, reasonable)

Timely (Timeframe, Time-based)


Why are SMART Goals so effective?

Because it is a tried and true method of achieving goals since 1981 when George T. Doran wrote a paper called There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.

You can download the original pdf of this paper by clicking on the link below

There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.


Why was this S.M.A.R.T. method so effective?

Because it followed the Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) principle. 

When you provide a guide that is easy and simple to follow, not only do more people have the capacity to do it, but they will be more willing to stick to it. 

By setting up a simple platform for goal setting, by using these 5 basic criteria, anyone can achieve their goals.



This is the starting point, you need to determine exactly what the goal is that you are trying to achieve. 

Specific means that your goal should be precise, distinct, or clear, so that you know today, tomorrow, or next year what you’re striving for without any ambiguity.


Bad Example of Specific:

I want to be successful

This is a bad example because it is too vague. You need to be able to answer a few questions first so that you know exactly what success is to you.

What does it mean to me to be successful:

  • Is it the amount of freedom that some more money in the bank can give you?

  • Is it a certain job title or position in your company?

  • Is it a certain lifestyle?


Good Example of Specific:

I want to have enough money in the bank so that I no longer am living month to month.




You cannot set a goal without the ability to measure or track it

If your goal is too vague and not specific then it will be very difficult to measure.

Once you have a specific goal you now need to create progress steps, metrics, or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so that you can track the progress, manage deadlines, and plan.


Bad Example of Measurable:

I want to have enough money in the bank so that I no longer am living month to month.

How much money in the bank will ensure that you are no longer living month to month


Good Example of Measurable:

I want to “make” enough money “$50,000 every month” so that I no longer am living month to month.




Unless your goals are actually achievable, realistic, and/or attainable, you will be setting yourself up for failure.

This is the part of your goal setting that requires due diligence. 

Yes, you should be aspiring for greatness, you should be reaching for the clouds, but there is a point where that is not helpful.

If my goal was that I want to physically be able to fly by the time I am 60, then that would be specific and measurable. 

But it is not achievable because it is virtually impossible for human beings to fly physically. 

But this goal can be altered so that it can meet the criteria of achievability. 

I could say that I want to create a device that can make me physically fly by the age of 60. 

This is now an achievable goal because it is quite possible to create a device that could accomplish that feat.


Bad Example of Achievable

I want to make $50,000 every month so that I no longer am living month to month.

What’s wrong with this example?

The problem with this example is that you did not answer how much you actually need to make in order to stop living month to month. I am sure that you do not “need” $50,000 every month. So you should ask yourself:

  • How much do I need to make in order to stop living month to month?

  • In my career field, job or business, does that number actually make sense?


A good example of Achievable:

I want to make “$10,000” every month so that I am no longer living month to month.



This part is all about the “WHY”.

When you are attempting a BHAG or Big Harry Audacious Goal, there needs to be relevancy to it in order to ensure that over time you can maintain motivation to complete it.

If I said my goal was to buy a Lamborghini one day, that is great. 

But for me, there is little relevance because the goal wouldn’t be to buy a Lamborghini, it would be the ability to buy a Lamborghini.

Over time I may actually buy something else like a Ferrari or a Tesla or I may not even buy an exotic car and may just invest the money. 

Over time the relevance of buying a Lamborghini fades away.


So for this scenario, the bad example would be:

I want $10,000 in the bank every month.


A good example of this scenario is:

I want to make $10,000 every month so that I am no longer living month to month.

The idea of relevance in this scenario is easy. 

If I just said I wanted to make $10,000 a month with no actual use for that goal, it could easily become irrelevant. 

Who is to say that $8,000 a month wouldn’t be enough in a couple of years, or $9,000 a month?

In this scenario, the driving factor is that I do not want to be living month to month anymore, so my motivating factor is not making $10,000 a month, but it is the ability to no longer be living month to month. 

In your situation, is there enough relevance to inspire long-term motivation to ensure that your goal can be maintained for as many years as it takes while striving towards ultimately achieving your goal?




This may be the most important part of the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting process. 

If you really want to conquer the ability to set and accomplish goals, then they all need to have a time frame so that you can manage deadlines, create tasks, and set priorities to help you reach your goals, especially long-term goals.


So Far for our example we do not have a set Time Frame, which is bad:

I want to make $10,000 every month so that I no longer am living month to month.

Here is how it may look, to coincide with all the other criteria of S.M.A.R.T.

  • How will I make $10,000 a month?

  • What positions do I need to be promoted to in my company to get there?

  • How long do I think I can realistically gain those promotions?


After asking those questions our example could look like this:

“In 5 years by xx/xx/xxxx (date)” I want to make $10,000 every month so that I am no longer living month to month.

Ultimately you should end up with a goal that you can point out every criterion of the S.M.A.R.T. goals

In 5 years by xx/xx/xxxx(date) (T & S) I want to make $10,000(A, S & M) every month(A, S & M) so that I no longer am living month to month(R & S).

If you want to start applying S.M.A.R.T. Goal setting, then download our free S.M.A.R.T goal worksheet so that you can ensure that your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. The checklist also includes an example checklist using the scenario discussed in this article.

Download our S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting Worksheet


Action Steps:


Once you have your goal outlined and are meeting all the S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria you need to lay out your action steps so that you can start tackling your goal one action step at a time.

Actions Steps can look like this:

  • I will: work 10 extra hours every week

  • I will: take management classes at night

  • I will: take the necessary steps to get promoted to manager

  • I will: take (the 1st step) toward becoming a manager in 3 months

  • Etc….

This publication is designed to provide information on federal tax and accounting laws and/or regulations. It is presented with the understanding that the author is not rendering legal or accounting services.

This text is not intended to address every situation that arises or provide specific, strategic tax and/or accounting planning advice. This text should not be used solely to answer tax and/or accounting questions and you should consult additional sources of information, as needed, to determine the solution to tax and/or accounting questions.

This text has been prepared with due diligence. However, the possibility of mechanical or human error does exist and the author accepts no responsibility or liability regarding this material and its use. This text is not intended or written by the practitioner to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer or tax return preparer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed.

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