Often you will see goal setting as a tool used in a professional setting. If you have a job in a corporate environment, you likely are familiar with the annual review process. A time to reflect on your accomplishments in your career as well as what you need to improve upon. And, a time to set goals for the coming year.

However, goal setting is often forgotten about completely when it comes to moving towards those big dreams within your personal life.

I honestly am not sure why that is. But I am here to tell you that effective goal setting for your personal dreams and aspirations is a good thing!

Goals are very useful at keeping you on track with your big picture desires. You can use goal-setting to propel you forward. And effective goal setting is an important tool to keep in your toolbox when you are on the path to living your best joy-filled life!

So let’s break down how to effectively create a goal using the SMART criteria.

SMART is an acronym for five key criteria that you can use to make sure you are getting your goals in a way that inspires and motivates and keeps you on track.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

Let’s look at each of these five areas in detail.

S = Specific


One of the first things you need to determine when creating a goal is to what makes it specific.

The most successful goals are the ones that are specific. Use details and distinct criteria when defining what your goal will entail. This will set you up for the best success.

For example, do you want to save up some money for a vacation? Get specific! 

How much money do you want to save up? 

Where do you want to go on vacation? 

When do you need the money by?

“I want to save $1000 by October 1 to book a 2 week vacation in Mexico.” is much more specific than “I want to save up some money for a holiday.”

Being specific allows you to know exactly what it is that you are trying to achieve. You have a clear vision, with a clear end result.

Be as specific as possible to set yourself up for success.

Idea 1: Know your why and do it for you

M = Measurable


The next letter of the acronym stands for measurable.

A measurable goal uses clear defining metrics that allow the goal to be tracked.

This may include the use of amounts, dates, quantity, or any other quantifiable information that allows you to know exactly how far you’ve come and how much further you have to go.

Using the same example from above, wanting to save $1000 by October 1 will give you a clear idea of where you are in your progress. 

You can use the measurable information to create milestones to make sure you are on track to success. You could flag a milestone as saving $500 by September 1 to measure whether or not you are on plan to reach your goal.

Measuring allows you to celebrate the small wins along the journey, which is especially helpful with a large, long term goal. And if you aren’t hitting your milestones, you can course-correct along the way to make sure you stay on track.

Idea 2: Start small and simple

A = Achievable


Goals should push you to become a better version of yourself.

But having an unachievable goal is setting yourself up for defeat.

Make sure that the goal is attainable while still requiring some effort to achieve.

For example, setting a goal to save up $100,000 by tomorrow is likely not realistic and achievable (unless you are already on the path). So setting this goal is setting yourself up for defeat.

However, setting the same goal and giving yourself a longer time frame is likely achievable with the right mindset.

So when setting a goal, make sure that it is achievable and still stretches and challenges you.

Idea 3: Commit to 30 days and treat it as an experiment

R = Relevant


It is important to have an emotional investment in your goals. 

Make sure you set goals that personally mean something to you and push you to become a better version of yourself.

One of the ways you can do this is to determine why you are wanting to reach your goal. You may have one big WHY, or you may have several smaller WHYs. 

Either way, understanding why you are setting this goal and why it is important to you will give you motivation along the way to stay on track. 

Having this why written down is especially helpful to maintain motivation when you feel like quitting.

Idea 4: Replace your lost needs

T = Timely


Dreams with a deadline are goals.

Be sure to give yourself a clear timeline of when you want to achieve your goal. This way you can monitor your progress and stay on track.

Saying that you want to achieve your goal “someday” has a very different energy than saying you want to achieve your goals by Monday, August 31st, for example.

Setting a clear deadline sets you up for success in the long term. It also allows you a completion date to then work backward from and create realistic milestones along the way.

Idea 5: Remove temptations

A few more words about SMART goal setting.


Remember, if a goal does not fit into the SMART criteria, it is likely an aspiration (and that is totally ok!). A dream with a deadline is a goal.

Don’t set too many goals. This will create overwhelm and frustration. Get crystal clear about your priorities and what is most important to you right now and create your goals around them.

Write those goals down! People who write their goals on paper are 42% more likely to reach them.

Make sure you have an emotional investment in your goals. One way to do this is to use visualization. Visualize achieving your goal vividly with all of your senses. This aids in the process of success.

What’s your big goal?


I would love to hear about your big goals. What is one goal that you want to accomplish in your personal life?

Leave me a comment below to share yours!

And if you need help in gaining clarity around your goal setting, join me for a Goal Setting Clarity Session. In our one-on-one 90-minute call, we will uncover what’s most important to you right now and how to make it a reality.


Goal Setting Clarity Session

During this confidential, one on one, 90-minute intensive clarity session, we will walk through the process together to create strong SMART goals to relieve the overwhelm, anxiety, and frustration.

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