How To Set Effective Goals You’ll Actually Meet

Once again, resolution season is upon us.

While we applaud clarifying and committing to new actions and results in the pursuit of improving ourselves, we’re here to say: there is a better way!

If you really want to make some headway in areas that matter to you this year–whether at the individual, team, or organizational level–goal planning is the way to go.

Goals are highly specific written statements of what is to be accomplished, and should never be confused with New Year’s resolutions. After they are established and clearly defined, they eventually will need to include a time frame for accomplishment and an accurate and consistent means of measurement and metrics.

We recommend the SMART goal framework. And while most people have heard of SMART goals, our experience shows that even if you know what it is, it’s extremely likely that you’re still not defining them properly when it comes time to lay them out.

So here’s what makes a goal SMART:

S – Specific & clear

Goals must be stated positively and in terms that are clear and understandable. They need to be defined specifically enough to measure progress, achievement and the improved results.


Goals must have an accurate means and method of measuring their success. If a method does not exist, one must be created to track progress and show results.

A – Attainable & Assigned

The goal must be able to be attained by the organization, the Department, or by the individual. They should also be assigned to specific individuals to establish responsibility and accountability. This requires a clear understanding of the lines of authority associated with the goal.

If the goal is assigned to a department or to an individual, they must have the authority necessary to accomplish the goal. Goals need to be a sufficient stretch, but they must be within reasonable means and limits; if they are viewed as unreachable, they are self-defeating. 

R – Relevant & Realistic 

The goal has to make sense for the organization, department, or individual. The goal should also be a vital part of the bigger picture, the vision and the mission.


All goals should include in the measurement criteria a reasonable, but definite, time-frame for completion.

Here are a few examples of common SMART goals:

  1. Increase year over year revenue growth by 20% from new clients
  2. Hire and train 10 software developers by April 1, 2021
  3. Run 3x a week for a minimum of 30 minutes from January through December 2021
  4. Be smoke free by March 1, 2021

So remember, New Year’s resolutions can be a fun motivational tool, and a great place to jump off from. But if you’re looking for real, practical, sustainable change and accomplishment, goal-setting with SMART goals is the way to go.

Want some help?

Click here to receive the same goal-planning worksheet we use with our clients, and a video training where Lindsey will walk you through the worksheet and also give some additional insights, best practices, and pitfalls to avoid for a successful goal-setting session.


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