Goal setting

Goals – Part One: Make Them SMART

SMART goals

Goals are the guideposts that make our dreams come alive. In Part One of this two-part article, learn about how to define your goal so it has purpose, challenge and meaning.

Ordinarily I would write about goals and goal setting in January, the time for many lofty and ambitious New Year’s Resolutions. But even though it’s the middle of August, this is a topic that’s fundamental to my clients and to me personally as a business owner. No time like the present…

Our society is extremely focused on goals – whether they be personal (lose 20 lbs, complete a triathlon) or business (sales/revenue goals, leads converted to customers). Consultants and the corporations that hire them have given many fancy names to goals, such as targets, intentions, objectives, key performance indicators, key results, value propositions, etc. But whatever they’re called, they have one thing in common: they are all about the outcome.

Unfortunately, we often define ourselves solely by the outcome. When reality doesn’t match up to our expectations, it’s often a major blow to how we see ourselves.

There are two steps to successfully setting and achieving a goal:

Part One: Define the goal the SMART way

Part Two: Identify the processes necessary to get to that goal, and focus on these instead of the outcome.


This is a well-known acronym for goal setting, but with a few twists and tweaks:

S – Specific: what exactly do you want to accomplish? What does that feel/look like? How is it different from where you are or what you’re doing now?

M – Measurable: What will tell you that you’ve reached your goal? How do you define success?

A – In the traditional SMART acronym, A stands for Attainable. However, my instructor and mentor Alex VanHouten teaches that A should stand for Attractive. In other words, why does achieving this goal matter to you right now? What will be different about your life if you achieve it?

Another aspect of Attractive is thinking about why you want to achieve this goal. Does it come from your own mind and heart, or is it being driven by someone or something else? The latter is what’s known as an “extrinsic” goal – it helps you achieve something outside of yourself, and is often about obtaining other people’s validation and approval. Read here for an article about intrinsic vs. extrinsic goals [trigger warning – contains some mild profanity].

R – Realistic: When you are working toward something new, it can be difficult to predict whether the goal is realistic – although sometimes it’s obvious (e.g. lose 50 lbs in 3 days). And when the goal’s target date is a ways out, almost anything seems realistic. So instead, focus on identifying the hurdles you’ll face in working toward the goal. Common ones include time, priority of other commitments, limited resources, and lack of knowledge, information or training. For example, when the goal is weight loss, the hurdles often include meal planning with kids, handling parties and get-togethers, that upcoming cruise you booked a year ago, eating on the go, and so forth.

T – Timely: This one goes hand in hand with Realistic, and is essentially about putting some type of timeframe around the goal. If you don’t establish a timeframe, there’s no incentive to achieve it.

Take some time to work through these elements when thinking about a new goal. You’ll gain insight into why this goal is important, why it speaks to you, challenges you, and gives you purpose and meaning – or maybe that it’s not that important to you after all!

Stay tuned for Part Two of this article, where I’ll talk about how it’s not the outcome, but rather the processes, that lead to success.

Let’s have a conversation about defining your fitness and wellness goals. Contact me and together we’ll get you on the path to your next achievement!


Learn more about Alex VanHouten on his website at www.definingdadbod.com and on Linked In at www.linkedin.com/in/definingdadbod/

NJLifeHacks is a blog by two brothers who write about stuff that makes us better – mainly procrastination, stoicism,  willpower, happiness, and habits.

1 thought on “Goals – Part One: Make Them SMART”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.