Article The most important aspect to successfully setting goals is to actually follow through with the goal. 2 2023 Life coaching https://www.lifecoachhub.com/img/uploads/articles/thumbs/100_1674811651.jpg Motivational coaching life coaching Lifecoachhub Pty Ltd LifeCoachHub

Goal Setting Coaching: How to Successfully Set SMART Goals (with Template)

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By setting smart, achievable goals, you will also get the added boost of reaching your small goals on a regular basis.

Updated Jan 5, 2023

It’s that time of the year again when you get to envision your goals for the coming year.

Before writing your new set of goals, let’s first get real. How about doing an honest self-check of how well you performed this year?

Pull out your planner and see what you wrote as your top five goals. Now, looking back, what were the goals that you hit? How about the targets you missed?

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Norman Vincent Peale Coaching Quote

The main problem in goal setting and why you need to be SMART about it

How many times have you set a goal only to lose focus of it or completely forget about it? If your answer is many times, then you are not alone.

Many people set out to accomplish a goal and then fail to do so. But don’t be discouraged. Goals take time, and in order to successfully attain one, you need to take many things into consideration.

You might be saying—it’s just a goal, what is there to take into consideration? 

Well, there is something called a SMART goal, and this type of goal will help you determine when, if, and how you should work on your goal.

Here is the acronym broken down:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Attainable

R-Realistic

T- Time-Bound

SMART goals

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Specific 

So let’s look at each criterion individually, starting with specific

Is the goal that you want to set specific? It is easier to accomplish a specific goal than it is to accomplish a broad goal. Get specific about your goals.

  • What is the goal?
  • Why this or those goals in particular?
  • How are you going to go about accomplishing this goal?

When answering what the goal is make sure you answer what you are going to do. 

Here are some examples of goals that people often have: 

  • “My goal is to lose weight” or 
  • “My goal is to start running.” 

These goals are very broad. How much weight do you want to lose? At what rate? How long do you want to run each day?

Let’s think about how we can change these goals to make them more specific:

  • “My goal is to lose one pound a week” or
  • “My goal is to run a mile every day. 

These are specific goals that also have direction. 

You see when your goal is too broad that it will not be as easy to accomplish, and it will be easy to focus on other things.

Here are some more examples of broad goals. See if you can figure out how to make them more specific yourself before moving on to read our suggestions:

  • “My goal is to be fluent in a new language.”
  • “My goal is to save for my next trip.”
  • “My goal is to have more work-life balance.”
  • “My goal is to live a healthy lifestyle.”
  • “My goal is to have an investment portfolio for retirement.”

Now, let’s check how we can make these goals more specific.

  • My goal is to be fluent in Italian in six months.
  • My goal is to save at least $200 every payday for my Asian trip.
  • I aim to finish my urgent tasks before lunch. So, I can exercise and have dinner with my family.
  • My goal is to cut down on eating fried and sugar-rich food. I will also jog for an hour daily.
  • My goal is to invest in real properties which I’ll turn into rental properties for a steady source of income.

Broad to specific goals smart goals

Measurable 

A measurable goal is simply one that you can keep track of.

Now moving on to “measurable”, is the goal that you want to set measurable? A measurable goal is simply one that you can keep track of.

If you run a mile, you can record that you ran the mile for that day. If you so happen to skip a day then it will reflect on your records.

You can also track your speed; maybe as you progress running every day, you become faster. Running one mile may take 15 minutes to complete during your first week of running. But as you get the proper pace and stamina, you can be much faster in 2 weeks. 

If losing a certain amount of weight every week is your goal, then that is something that can certainly be measured. A pound per week of weight loss will definitely show the results in 21 weeks!

When you phrase your goal into something that’s measurable, you become more motivated to achieve it. Why? Since it allows you to check how far you are from reaching your goal. Let’s look at the first two examples:

  • Running a mile every day and covering that distance much faster as you progress makes your goal more motivating to accomplish.
  • Losing one pound a week is definitely a challenge, but it becomes more meaningful when you check how far you’ve come from 8 weeks ago. 

You see, you need to make your goals work for you; not against you.

If losing 50 pounds is a battle, chop your ideal weight into weekly weight-loss goals. This way, you’ll be more motivated to reach it. You can even sort of punish yourself (by having more exercise time) when you’re not being consistent with your goal!

Yes, making your goal measurable does you two things: consistency and clarity. Once you get consistent in pursuing your goals, you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel more clearly.

Let’s go back to our earlier examples of specific goals. Are there ways to make them more measurable?

  • My goal is to be fluent in Italian in six months.
  • My goal is to save at least $200 every payday for my Asian trip.
  • I aim to finish my urgent tasks before lunch. So, I can exercise and have dinner with my family.
  • My goal is to cut down on eating fried and sugar-rich food. I will also jog for an hour daily.
  • My goal is to invest in real properties which I’ll turn into rental properties for a steady source of income.

Here’s how you can make these goals more measurable.

  • To be fluent in Italian in six months, I will devote 3.50 hours daily to studying.
  • My goal is to save $100 each week to have a $2,000 travel fund for my Asian trip in five months.
  • I’ll complete my urgent tasks in the first 3 hours. After work, I’ll run for 5 kilometers and then have dinner with my family.
  • I’ll only eat fried and sugar-rich food once every seven days. I will also jog for an hour daily.
  • I aim to invest in two real properties within eight months. In 2 years, I’ll turn them into rental properties.

Specific to measurable goals smart goals

Attainable 

Time and finances are the most important considerations when determining if your goal is attainable.

Next in line is “attainable.” Can your goal actually be attained? 

Here are some things to think about as far as attainable goals:

  • Do you have enough time to work on this goal?
  • Does this goal require you to spend money? If so, do you have the finances?

Time and finances are the most important considerations when determining if your goal is attainable. Sometimes your goal may sound good, but you have to determine if you actually can do it right now.

If you aim to run a mile every day, you need to allot time to reach your goal. Or if you plan to lose a pound each week, you have to be willing to sacrifice overeating during holidays or special occasions. So losing weight becomes attainable.

Also, to avoid overwhelm, set a timeline that’s achievable. Time is crucial since it needs to be not impossible to meet nor too easy to reach. While setting your goal, recheck if you have enough time to complete it. The last thing you want is to feel beaten up physically and mentally, leading to a loss of motivation.

Going back to our previous examples of measurable goals, try to make these goals attainable.

  • To be fluent in Italian in six months, I will devote 3.50 hours daily to studying.
  • My goal is to save $100 each week to have a $2,000 travel fund for my Asian trip in five months.
  • I’ll complete my urgent tasks in the first 3 hours. After work, I’ll run for 5 kilometers and then have dinner with my family.
  • I’ll only eat fried and sugar-rich food once every seven days. I will also jog for an hour daily.
  • I aim to invest in two real properties within eight months. In 2 years, I’ll turn them into rental properties.

Here are our suggestions to make these goals sound more attainable.

  • Back in college, Italian was one of my electives. So I know the basics of the Italian language.
  • I’ll meet my savings goal of $2,000 for my Asian trip since I have a stable job and don’t spend much on stuff.
  • I always come to work on time and plan my day ahead to avoid “surprise deadlines”.
  • I like eating healthy food. But I have to make time to do grocery shopping and cook my meals.
  • I had two years of experience as a real estate agent. So I have an idea of which properties to invest in.

Measurable to attainable smart goals

Realistic 

Can you really accomplish this goal?

Moving on to “realistic”, is your goal realistic? Can you really accomplish this goal?

Sometimes people set goals that are just unrealistic. For example, it’s unwise to say that you are going to lose 3 pounds a week or run 30 miles a day if you know that you honestly do not have the time or willpower to do so.

woman climbing stairs pursuing goal

Consider how long it will actually take to accomplish your goal and be realistic about it. Don’t set a goal to do something in a week that you know will probably take some months to accomplish. For instance, trying to lose 20 pounds a week is just not biologically feasible.

The unrealistic goals that we set usually end up being the ones that cause us disappointment. Be true to yourself and realize what you can do. Of course, push yourself a little but not too much.

Being realistic in setting your goals also entails being truthful to yourself. You have to consider your priorities, needs, and life situation. Often, we set our minds towards something we really like to achieve, but it doesn’t go with our current priorities. 

For example, running a mile every day sounds measurable and achievable. But if you’re finishing a project or if your wife has just given birth, you may have to recheck and re-align your priorities. 

While establishing your goal, ask yourself if now’s the right time to pursue it. Again, go back to your priorities. What do you value more at this point? Does your goal match your needs and current life situation?

Let’s go back to the earlier attainable goals. Try to figure out how to make them more realistic.

  • Back in college, Italian was one of my electives. So I know the basics of the Italian language.
  • I’ll meet my savings goal of $2000 for my Asian trip since I have a stable job and don’t spend much on stuff.
  • I always come to work on time and plan my day ahead to avoid “surprise deadlines”.
  • I like eating healthy food. But I have to make time to do grocery shopping and cook my meals.
  • I had two years of experience as a real estate agent. So I have an idea of which properties to invest in.

Now let’s see how to turn them into realistic goals.

  • I‘ll be fluent in Italian in six months by allotting 3.50 hours daily. I own my time since I’m a freelancer.
  • Because I’m single, I can save and spend on the things I like. That includes having trips to anywhere I want to go.
  • We’ve just completed our year-end project at work. So, now’s the time to pursue my fitness goals and spend time with my family.
  • Not eating pastries and ice cream is a challenge but I can deal with it. As for jogging, I’ll just bundle up as it’s cold outside.
  • I’ve been working for three decades. I’ll use some of my savings to invest in real properties and then borrow from a bank.  

Attainable to realistic smart goals

Time-bound 

When we leave out time, that’s when we start to push back and procrastinate on our goals.

Lastly, is your goal “time-bound”? Do you have a time frame or deadline? 

Leaving out the time frame completely is not “SMART.” Just saying “My goal is to lose 20 lbs” without any kind of deadline gives no sense of urgency.

It’s the same with just stating, “I’ll run a mile every day”. When do you plan to start running? Or when will you run one mile daily?

We need to set a target date whenever we make goals. This fuels up our drive to reach what we aim for. When we leave out time, that’s when we start to push back and procrastinate on our goals. It doesn’t spark our desire to achieve our goals.

It’s okay if you don’t want to start immediately. But be clear on when you plan to start. Visualize how you see yourself 4 weeks or 6 months from now.

Let’s finish up successfully the realistic goals we identified earlier. See how you can phrase them to time-bound goals.

  • I‘ll be fluent in Italian in six months by allotting 3.50 hours daily. I own my time since I’m a freelancer.
  • Because I’m single, I can save and spend on the things I like. That includes having trips to anywhere I want to be.
  • We’ve just completed our year-end project at work. So now’s the time to pursue my fitness goals and spend time with family.
  • Not eating pastries and ice cream is a challenge but I can deal with it. As for jogging, I’ll just bundle up as it’s cold outside.
  • I’ve been working for three decades. I’ll use some of my savings to invest in real properties and then borrow from a bank.

Ready for the last stretch? Check out how we made these realistic to time-bound goals.

  • My goal is to be fluent in Italian in six months. So, I’ll start studying this weekend.
  • To meet my savings goal of $2,000 in 5 months and have my Asian trip, I’ll start to save $200 this cut-off. 
  • Beginning Monday, I’ll finish my urgent tasks in the first 3 hours. After work, I’ll exercise and have dinner with my family.
  • In a month, I’ll only eat fried and sugar-rich food once every seven days. I’ll also jog for an hour daily starting this weekend.
  • Two weeks from now, I’ll be checking some real properties in the nearby areas. Before August 31st, I must have two real estate.   

Realistic to time-bound smart goals

Now you know well how to create more motivating and attainable targets, it’s your turn. Use this SMART Goals PDF Worksheet to guide you in setting your goals! 

And remember to constantly push yourself to achieve them. Set. Get that drive. And thrive!

Guide to goal-setting smart goals

How do you establish SMART goals? 

Let’s ensure that SMART goals aren’t just another buzzword you’ll soon forget. To propel your path to goal-achievement, here are five examples of SMART goals in different life areas. 

  1. Your SMART goal for career progression

  • Specific: I want to gain the necessary technical and interpersonal skills to be a marketing supervisor and successfully lead my team.
  • Measurable: I will dedicate at least two hours a day to taking courses. I’ll also take part in training sessions to be a marketing supervisor in 3 years.
  • Attainable: I used to work in an advertising firm for two years. That means I know the fundamentals of selling and connecting with the target market.
  • Realistic: I’m confident now is the perfect time for me to get training and more skills. My kids are already in high school and are much more independent.
  • Time-bound: I will take online courses for the next two months. This weekend, I’ll start searching for online marketing courses. I’ll schedule an interpersonal short class in three months.   
  1. Your SMART goal of having better relationships
  • Specific: I want to develop a better relationship with my mother since she’s getting older and because we live together.
  • Measurable: I’ll cook for her on weekends, then take her to the park. I’ll also ask her to go shopping next week to relax and unwind.
  • Attainable: My weekends are devoted to family and our dogs. There’s no doubt about that.
  • Realistic: Taking her out shopping and eating outside once a month sounds practical due to inflation. That means, on other weekends, we need to have different activities at home for our time to be worthwhile.
  • Time-bound: I’m going to schedule our weekend activities for this month. If my mom wants to try a new interest I’ll set it for next month. 

A goal without a plan is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Coaching Quote

  1. Your SMART goal on health and fitness
  • Specific: I will join the Ironman triathlon in New Zealand in two years’ time. 
  • Measurable: I’ll train for at least an hour per day and increase my distance and speed gradually. I will allot Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for running while Tuesdays and Thursdays for swimming. On weekends, I’ll go biking with my friends in the countryside.
  • Attainable: I already joined a half-marathon, and I know I can do the Ironman since I love to swim and bike.
  • Realistic: To start my day right, I’ll run from 5:00 am to 6:00 am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’ll go swimming after finishing my job on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  
  • Time-bound: The Ironman Triathlon is scheduled in two years. But I want to be physically and mentally fit before the actual challenge. So, I’ll begin my training next week.

financial goals counting money

  1. Your SMART goal of gaining financial independence
  • Specific: I’m 24 and want to be financially independent before I turn 30. It means by that time, I have secured insurance and have a passive income that works for me.
  • Measurable: I will first build my emergency fund for the next eight months. Before my 25th birthday, I’m getting insurance, so it’s still cheaper. I’ll take short courses on investing by next month to produce passive income. 
  • Attainable: I seldom eat outside with friends and don’t spend much on gadgets and fashion. I can reach my financial goals in no time. 
  • Realistic: Because I’m single and living with my family, it’s easier to save as I don’t pay rent.
  • Time-bound: Tomorrow, I’ll check out possible courses on investments and finance. I’ll also explore various insurance products this week.
  1. Your SMART goal of learning a new hobby
  • Specific: I want to learn how to bake cakes and other pastries. So, I can make one for family celebrations. I can also turn baking into a side hustle once I become good at it.
  • Measurable: I’ll start by watching videos on YouTube and spending one hour daily.
  • Attainable: I used to bake cookies and sell them as part of our organization’s fundraising campaign. I only need clear instructions and to follow the procedure, and it’s done!
  • Realistic: I have an oven at home, an idea about baking and I know I can be a good follower of instructions. So, I can be a good baker! 
  • Time-bound: I want my baking skills to be ready in less than three months. I can start making bread and mini cakes by next week.

Accomplishing your SMART goal 

When you put all of the components of a SMART goal together, it will help you be more focused and motivated. You will be able to know what you are going to do, when, and how. You will be able to keep track of your goals and know if you are exceeding or missing the mark.

Setting SMART goals is definitely a way to make sure your goals are achieved. SMART goals will also challenge your determination and dedication. If you can accomplish one goal, then you can accomplish many more.

Be smart about your goals and you will definitely not be disappointed, remember that anything is possible!

FAQ

  1. How do you set goals and achieve them?

Why wait for new year’s resolutions to start setting your goals when you can start now? Here are 7 simple steps to turn your goal into reality.   

  1. Visualize your goal
  2. Write it down
  3. Commit to your goal
  4. Enhance your accountability by sharing it with a friend
  5. Break it into mini goals
  6. Keep your focus
  7. Celebrate wins
  1. What’s the easiest way to set goals?

You can have a thousand and one reasons why you might fail in achieving a goal. So before deciding to set a goal, you need to think it through. Assess yourself, your priorities, and your life situation. Once you decide on your goal, pump up with motivation. Make a clear sketch of your plan and write it down. Finally, give yourself time to grow. Treat failure as a part of your development process to reach your goals.

  1. What is the golden rule for goal setting?

Though the idea of creating and hitting goals is exciting, try to focus on your top three list. Why? To help you cut down overwhelm and possible exhaustion. It also pays to visualize and write down your goals. Research shows that you increase your chances of reaching your goal by up to 1.40 times when you visualize and put them into writing (Murphy, 2018).

Photo Credit : jean-louis zimmermann

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COMMENTS

  • Alicia Phuong
    April 11, 2013

    This is a great read! I constantly multi-task and sometimes things simply get out of hand. I tend to lose track of my goals and what needs to be completed first. I'm going to print this article out and implement the S.M.A.R.T. system for my next project! It's going to make things a whole lot clearer!

  • Joon 88
    May 06, 2014

    So helpful! Thanks so much Nicole :) I am going to start doing this for sure now that I know how.

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