How to Set Goals and achieve them – Going beyond the SMART framework

If you have ever read about how to set goals, you are sure to have encountered the SMART framework for goal setting. SMART is a very useful framework for setting goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

Specific: Specific goals clearly state what has to be done. There are no vague words in specific goals. Nothing can be misinterpreted.

Measurable: The goal you set should be measurable. If a goal you set is not measurable, how will you know if you have achieved it or not? What cannot be measured cannot be accomplished.

Achievable: One main problem of goals is that when people are setting them, they are not actually thinking of how they can achieve them. Goal setting is not going to be fruitful if you set goals that you cannot achieve; you are setting yourself up for failure.

Relevant: The goals should be relevant to your needs, the needs of the company or the project you are trying to complete. If a goal is not relevant, it does not matter if you have achieved it or not.

Time-bound: You must set a timeline to achieve a goal, if you have not set a timeline, it is likely that the goal never gets prioritized and you are bound to not get to the target.

So SMART is a very basic and well established approach to setting goals. If you stick to the SMART goals framework, you are most likely to set goals which you can accomplish. However SMART does not show you a way of achieving your goals. You can you use these three main steps to overcome this disadvantage.

Develop a plan

Once you know what you want to achieve the next task is to lay out how you want to achieve it. Devising a plan will keep you on track towards your goal. A plan acts like a road map and will bring you on the route whenever you are lost. Be sure to set milestone in your plan. Reaching milestones will give a sense of accomplishments and motivate you to go after your goal.

Align the resources you need

If you have designed a well thought out plan, you will know what you need and when you need it, in order to achieve your goals. Make a list of these resources and see how you can have access to these resources when you need them. Resources can be financial, people and intellectual in nature. So planning ahead will definitely help you become aware of what you will need to be successful in your goals.

Work as planned and Review it

Now the only task remaining is to actually follow the plan you have created for yourself. Get started and be sure to review it at multiple points to see what’s working and what’s not working. Revising a plan or even a goal is no shame and shows that you can adapt to changes around you.

Setting SMART goals is a good way to get started but then devising an action plan, gathering the resources, following the plan and reviewing it is crucial in achieving the goals.

Have you had success in achieving your goals? What works for you and what does not? If you are looking to be better at achieving your goals, try this method, I am sure you will see results.

11 thoughts on “How to Set Goals and achieve them – Going beyond the SMART framework

  1. AverageJoe October 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    It’s funny. Whenever someone DOESN’T reach their goal, it’s usually because they didn’t follow the tried-and-true SMART framework. Nice reminder.

  2. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter October 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I think setting timelines are the hardest for me. I used to be able to get so much more done in a year but now I find things just keep getting pushed out. I don’t know if I am tired or just unrealistic but it frustrates me to no end. I love being productive.

    • The Money Mail October 17, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      You are right, setting time lines is the most difficult part. What helps me is to make a best guess and then work towards it, I may not make it but then I have a better idea of what I did not account for.

  3. Holly@ClubThrifty October 18, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Nice! All good points. I like it.

  4. Thomas S. Moore October 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I have heard of this but never really paid attention to what it meant. But if there were two that I use to need to work on it would be time-bound and specific. Like losing/gaining weight i would say i am going to gain some muscle. Never set an amount or time and guess what never gain weight. Time forces you to be accountable by a certain time.

  5. Chris Hufnagel November 3, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Great advice! Sometimes having a time frame can be a hinderence. If i have a goal with a time frame of longer than 1 month I break it into milestones.

    My reason for this is that it can be really overwhelming and sometimes counter productive to give yourself a long time. Breaking it up into ACHIEVABLE milestones makes this easier for me!


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