In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts are.
~ Arnold H. Glasgow


To get somewhere you have to know where to go and how to get there. Goals are your destinations or benchmarks and the path to your goals is your plan. Making your goals SMART makes it easier to achieve them.

An essential element of career success, here’s how to plan your SMART goals:


S – Specific

Clarity of purpose – clarity of how you envision success – a clear view of what you want to do – is the first step. Define how you can make your goal specific.

Answer questions like:

  • Why am I doing this? What’s the benefit of achieving this goal? Or, perhaps the reason for achieving the goal?
  • What is my vision of achieving this goal and how can I get there?
  • Does my goal seem realistic or needs more research to make it more specific?


I have to complete the certification program on <> in next three months.

I want to achieve the position of business development manager of my division by <date>.

I will lose 15 pounds in the next 8 months.


M – Measurable

How will you know when you get there? Are you aiming to earn a million dollars by the end of this year, or you expect the sales to go up 20% in the next 6 months? Goals must be measurable to ensure you can quantify your efforts to get there.

Answer questions like:

  • How much do I have to work or get done to achieve my goal?
  • How much am I expecting as an achievement?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?


I will generate 25% more revenue for my business by the end of the fiscal year.

I will reduce my weight 2 pounds per week.


A – Achievable

To achieve a goal, you need the means to get there or get what you want. You must equip yourself with the right skills and abilities to work on the goal. What do you have and what else is needed to make your goals achievable?

Answer questions like:

  • With the retargets and abilities I have, can I achieve my goal as defined?
  • What has to give to attain my goal? What else needs to be done?
  • What needs to change – either in my goal definition or my capabilities, timing etc. to make the goal achievable?


I will get a new employee on my team to help me achieve the revenue we aim for.

I will apply for the gym membership tomorrow and start working with a personal trainer.


R – Result-oriented

Don’t be vague when you define your goals. They must achieve a purpose – that’s what defines a goal in the first place. What are the expected outcomes? What’s the result expected that brings a closure to your achieving the goal? R also stands for relevant. Your goals must be relevant and realistic, without a reality check you would not be happy with what you achieve.

Answer questions like:

  • What’s happening around – what is a practical way to define or approach my goal?
  • What is the expected result?
  • Are my efforts oriented toward the result I want to achieve?


I have done careful evaluations that with a three person marketing team, i can achieve the 25% increase in revenue that I aim for.

I have to go to the gym at least 3-4 days a week and make sure not to miss my personal training sessions.


T – Time-bound

You can’t expect to be on a task forever. You expect results. Goals must be time-framed. Know by when you have to achieve what.

Answer questions like:

  • When am I expected to achieve this goal? What’s the time frame?
  • How can I break it down to short-term and long-term sub-goals?
  • What do I have to do daily / regularly / consistently to get there?


I will get the required certification in the next three months and make sure to meet all expectations at the present job to request for the manager position at the end of next annual review.

I will reduce 2 pounds every week and see that my trainer helps me achieve it and keep me on track.


Once you know how to define your goals, it is equally important to know what to do next. This wisdom comes from hundreds of years ago – still as relevant:


First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective.

Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods.

Third, adjust all your means to that end.

~ Aristotle