If you are born in 2020 and live to be 80 years old, you will live to see the year 3000! I wonder how much the world would have changed by then? Well, the smart thing would be to keep up and continue encouraging ourselves to learn and achieve new things. The SMARTER thing would be to set do-able goals. Here’s how!

Be Specific

Each goal needs to be very clear, understandable, and make sense to an outsider. What will you be doing? A SMARTER goal contains a specific verb and is explainable to somebody 40 years older and 40 years younger than you. This kind of goal could be executed by somebody else.


A SMARTER goal is measurable. Is it possible to measure the progress toward your goal? Is there a quantifiable aspect to your goal?

If your goal is “I want to be healthier”, it may not be possible to measure this. However, if you can identify an input action that you believe will result in your being healthier, this is a better goal to have. For example, if research shows that eating kale five times a week maintains healthy levels of cholestrol, then you might have this goal instead: I will eat 100mg of kale five times a week and measure my cholestrol once a month to make sure it is in the healthy range according to the nurse.

Make sure it is Attainable

Is your goal within reach? Is it realistic? A SMARTER goal should challenge you without breaking you. An impossible unattainable goal (e.g. I want to lose 200kg in 2 days) will decrease motivation and minimize your chances of success, while a challenge (e.g. I want to lose 1kg per month this year) activates the brain in a rewarding way.

Set Relevant Goals

Are the goals you are setting consistent with your current lifestyle, other goals, where you want to go, who you are? Many goals are good to have, but they may not all fit in with the space you are currently in. It’s about choosing the right goals at the right time. And what’s important, is they have to be in line with who you are, or who you want to be in your long-term vision. SMARTER goals are based on what you want, not what others think you should do.

Time-bound deadlines

A goal without a deadline is just a good idea. Most people work best under some form of “pressure” that comes from having a deadline. Your deadlines should always be realistic (as shown in A – Attainable). It should also be set out in such a way that it can help you determine the smaller steps you need to take to achieve your goal.

Evaluate your Progress

This is where it gets interesting… and where goal-setting really packs a powerful punch! It’s not enough to set goals. You need to reflect often to see how you are progressing. This is what the “Evaluate” phase is for. You can evaluate your SMARTER goal by reading through your goals daily, reflecting on your progress at the end of a week/month, using a tracking system to monitor your progress.

Re-adjust your SMARTER goals

Based on your evaluation, you might find that your goals should change. This could be because the goal is no longer relevant to your season, it is no longer realistic (e.g. spreading yourself too thin), it needs to be broken down into more achievable targets, it needs to be postponed because the deadline was too tight.


Put all these steps together and you have an acronym (SMARTER) to keep your goals fresh and doable:

  • S-specific
  • M-measurable
  • A-attainable
  • R-relevant
  • T-time bound
  • E-evaluate
  • R-re-adjust

For support in setting SMARTER goals, please contact me for an individual session. Or look out for my Pop Up Psychology talks on the topic. Alternatively, access this awesome  free e-book on the topic which provides additional tips and tricks.