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The Art of SMART Goals

You did it! You accomplished “the thing”! You finished your dissertation, ran a marathon, got the promotion, landed the client . . . you met the giant goal you set for yourself! Congratulations!!!

Now what?

We set goals for ourselves, celebrate our achievements. live in that feeling of accomplishment, and relish in the knowledge of our success. After a bit though, the sense of triumph fades, and the newness of “the thing” wears off. The weeks, months, and sometimes years of our efforts now stretch into weeks and months of uncertainty, and perhaps into lack of direction or purpose. We ask ourselves, “what do I do now?”

When you find yourself faced with these feelings of doubt or anxiety, remind yourself of your goal and the time and effort it took to achieve. Recognize that your feelings are valid, and then start again. Your next goal doesn’t have to be monumental. In fact, starting small may help you produce results more quickly and put your self-questioning to rest. Regardless of the size or manner of your intention, two things will help in making that goal become reality. Write it down, and make it SMART.

A 2015 study by psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews found that simply writing down your goal increases the likelihood of achieving it by 42%. Writing down action commitments raised the percentage to 62%, and sharing the goal and the commitments with an accountability partner improved the chances of reaching the goal to an incredible 76%.

Another method to increase the chances of reaching your goal is to make it SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Often, our goals are too ambiguous: “I want to lose weight,” “I’m going to write a book,” “Our organization is going to improve employee retention.” Instead, phrase your goal using the SMART acronym. For example, your goal is to provide more and better feedback to your team:

  • Specific – What exactly are you trying to achieve?

“I am to give each member of my staff positive reinforcement and constructive feedback. I will use our communication platforms to praise at least one individual daily for a particular accomplishment, and I will set up one-to-one meetings with each person once per month.”

  • Measurable – How will you know that you have met your goal?

“I will measure this goal by sending two positive emails each week and by tracking one-to-ones on my calendar. I will evaluate each person’s performance and stats quarterly to look for improvement. I will conduct a survey twice yearly to ask my team for their feedback and to gauge their job satisfaction.”

  • Attainable – Is your goal truly within your reach?

“The cadence of these tasks is manageable, and I will increase the frequency, if necessary.”

  • Relevant – Is your goal in alignment for you and/or for your organization? How will it help overall?

“This goal will improve my team’s performance and stimulate a culture of open communication and continued growth.”

  • Time-bound – When do you want to achieve your goal?

“I will begin this goal at the first of next month, and I will send a survey at the end of three months. I will evaluate my commitment and the team member’s statics monthly and look for a trend of improvement by the end of six months.”

Want to meet your goal? Write it down, make it SMART, be as detailed and honest with yourself as possible, and share your goal with a friend, family member, or colleague. Need someone to help you get started and hold you accountable? Email us at, and let us know the personal or professional goals you want to set for yourself. We are all a work in progress, and we would love to help!


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