It’s a fact that goals are necessary for growth in our personal lives, career, and daily work. But as it turns out most of us are pretty bad at goal setting. According to a 2017 study by the project management institute, 17% of the projects fail. That’s not a small number in a wide business world made up of projects. Even more interestingly, of the projects in that study that didn’t fail out, 32% missed their goals. In addition to that, a study done by the University of Scranton found that a staggering 92% of the people don’t meet their new year’s goals. It might be because we are pressing too hard to have a goal just for the sake of having one or we are not tracking our goals or the goals are not clear enough.

There are so many reasons teams and individuals miss the mark. But one is that many of us set a goal without thoroughly exploring and benchmarking it. You might even set goals and completely miss them because they were not clearly articulated. That does not mean that your work was all for nothing or that you are not good at your job. You probably just need to get smart about goal setting


Why set Goals

Every successful person or achiever in all fields has the habit to set goals. As goal setting gives

  • Motivation
  • Focus is important to avoid distractions.
  • Helps to organize time and resources
  • Acknowledgment of your progress
  • Makes you succeed faster and more efficiently


We are constantly setting goals in our heads but we can’t achieve them. According to the studies, 95% of people don’t achieve the goals they set at the start of the year. Following poorly established goals often makes you disappointed whether you are a student or a high-level manager.

There is a proven method “SMART” of goal setting you can use in all facets of your life. Setting smart goals help you to overcome many obstacles and achieve success. SMART goals are the objectives that meet the five criteria of the SMART acronym that is discussed as follows

  • Specific

Uncertain goals cannot be applied therefore you need to set your goals clearly to specify every detail. Try to answer the question starting with what, why, who, where, and which to ensure you covered all the details to make your goal more specific. There is no doubt that when you are specific about a goal, and you do the work to uncover every possible detail, you will clear away any ambiguity that might stand in the way of meeting that goal.

Determining your goal specifics will help you make sure it’s well defined, well-intentioned and unambiguous. So at this point, you have to dissect the goal and get granular about it. Some questions can help you and your team to get the details like what needs to be accomplished? Why do you want to achieve this goal? Who is involved in the goal? Who is responsible? Where will this work need to happen? Or are there any limitations on the work? Thinking through these questions will help you arrive at a more realistic goal that you are comfortable acting on and discussing with your team, stakeholders, and management.

  • Measurable

You need to track your performance while moving towards your goal to be motivated. Therefore you should set measurable milestones to understand whether you are behind or ahead of your plan. Measurable goals deal with how many or how many questions to address quantity and measurement.

A well-crafted goal is not just specific about what’s intended. It’s also easy to quantify so figure out the best way to measure or track your success. You can do this by tracking a total number of actions, a percentage, a dollar figure, or some other number that shows movement towards your goal. If you are having trouble coming up with the number, you might need to rethink the goal.

  • Achievable

This step is a reality check to make sure what you have outlined is actually within reach. Look at your goal and run it through the lens of reality to make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure before you even start. That’s not an easy thing to do, though, especially if you want to be aggressive but are not sure just how successful you will be.

Setting unfeasible goals is an obstruction to your success. Unfortunately, many people set impossible goals and they give up after a while. If their goals are achievable rather than impossible chance of success is more. To assess your goals’ achievability, explore all the possible constraints and limitations that could impede your progress. These might include time or availability and workloads, team size, technology, and tools, budget, resources, and required partners and related work. There is a lot to consider here to make sure you are setting yourself up for success. What’s more important is to dig deep and make any potential risks or issues clear. That way, if they do become a reality you can revisit the goal without stress.

  • Realistic/ Relevant

Your goals should be relevant to the overall objective that you are trying to achieve. If they are not relevant, achieving them will not provide you with anything on the way to success. Nobody wants to spend hours achieving worthless goals. It is important to understand or acknowledge why your goal is important to you or your organization. Identifying a key outcome provides clarity on why you are doing the work or how it will benefit you, your project, or your organization.

  • Time-bound

A good goal should be accomplished within a specific time. A goal will not be smart if it does not have a target start and end date. Like most projects goals are finite. And if you miss your deadline you wouldn’t succeed. Goals can be impacted by so many underlying factors

Important steps

Before setting SMART goals it is recommended to think about the following steps

  • Create an action plan and clarify how you are going to achieve your goals. Set milestones and decide actions to reach them
  • Create a schedule and track your performance to understand if you will meet the milestones
  • Analyze smart goals and examples of successful people and businesses to understand if your goals are applicable or not

Levels of setting goals

Goals setting and achieving process is a step-by-step process. You have to set goals on several levels

  • Setting lifetime goals

It is important to acknowledge what you want to achieve in your life to give an overall perspective that is helpful in decision making. Lifetime goals must include achievements regarding career, financial status, education, family, etc.

  • Setting smaller goals

Dream big but start small i.e., break down your lifetime goals into smaller targets like set a one-month plan, 6-month plan, 1 year, and a 5-year plan that is based on the previous plan and linked to the achievement of life goals. Make a “To-do list” on daily basis to get your plan working.

  • Staying on course

After planning, work hard to achieve all these small targets to get your ideal future. Keep updating your plans according to changing priorities and experiences as it helps you to keep on track. A computer-based diary is recommended to keep a record of all your targets and achievements.

Tips for achieving your set goals

There are certain tips to achieve your set goals easily.

  1. Write down the steps

To get your goals easily, you should write the specific steps to get them completed. This will be helpful to remember when and how you will achieve them. List them where you can see them more often.

  1. Reward yourself

It will be better to reward yourself for achieving your set goals. Getting appreciation from yourself or any other person will motivate you and give you a sense of self-esteem and confidence.

  1. Have a goal partner

Search for someone who will stand by you and achieve the goals together. Discuss your goals with your fellows and monitor your goals to complete the steps.


In a nutshell, setting goals to improve your career will provide the path to your success. This defines how focused, goal-oriented, and hardworking you are. So it is important to prepare yourself for the goals settings and how to achieve them and you can do that by following SMART goals criteria. SMART goals provide the framework that not only helps you write a measurable and achievable goal but also clears up any confusion about what should be done, how long should it take, and when you can celebrate hitting that goal. SMART goals enable you to set expectations around your accomplishment and plan a path toward meeting it. The most important thing to understand when developing SMART goals is how to think about five key criteria as you work through them.

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