Setting & Achieving Goals- Part 2

At the 2008 Olympic Trials I earned seven straight perfect 10’s from the judges.

In part 1 of this Setting & Achieving Goals series, we discussed why it’s so important to set goals and why so often our goals and resolutions fail. Here’s a brief recap:

In order to achieve something great, it’s not going to happen by accident. You first have to desire to accomplish something and acknowledge it as the goal, otherwise you’ll wander aimlessly with no direction. But even once we do have a goal in mind, we often fail to reach it for reasons like these:

1. We make too many at one time
2. We make them too vague
3. We don’t make a plan to achieve them
4. We think we can only make them once a year
5. If we have failed in the past, we either just keep making & failing at the same goals or we give up completely

So the big question is: How do we make an achievable goal?

You may have heard of the S.M.A.R.T. acronym for setting goals. I like it and have created my own version for you, but the most important part I want to discuss today is creating the actual goal itself.


The “S” in S.M.A.R.T. is for specific. One reason we often fail to achieve our goals is that the goal itself is too vague or general. For example, if you decide your goal is “to get healthy,” how can you tell if you’ve done that? How do you know if you’re on the right track? When stating a goal, you need to stay away from generalities.

So the goal needs to be clearly defined. The more you can narrow down exactly what you want to accomplish, the easier it is to make a plan to get there and make that goal a reality.

If you are having trouble pinpointing a specific objective, start by asking yourself some basic questions about the goal: What, Why and When? And if necessary: Who and Where? Write down your answers and keep asking questions until you start getting a narrower, more exact bull’s-eye to aim toward.

Another truly important factor for making your goal is that it should be significant. A goal should be something that is currently out of your reach. If your goal is something you already know you can do, then it’s not a goal, it’s just another box to check on your to-do list.

The point of a goal is to strive toward something that you cannot do… yet. This goal should force you to push yourself out of your current comfort zone to achieve it. The process should help you grow into someone better or greater than you are now.

If you are having trouble coming up with a significant goal, start by answering the “what and why?” questions first.


The “M” in S.M.A.R.T. is for measurable. Our goals need to be quantifiable. There needs to be some way to measure your progress toward the achievement of your goal.

Being able to measure your progress toward your goal should help you to stay on track. Especially when our goals are long term or a ways out in the future, it’s easy to get side tracked and veer off course. If you can measure your progress along the way, it will help you keep sight of your goal and aiming squarely toward the target.

Measuring progress also gives you motivation. It allows you to experience the exhilaration of achievement along the way that keeps you motivated to keep going to reach that ultimate goal. You can look back and see how far you’ve come or see how close you are to reaching your goal.

And of course, if you’re able to measure your goal, you know when you’ve actually accomplished it. Just like that example earlier, if you’re goal is simply “to get healthy” how do you know if you’ve done it? If you have no means of measuring or quantifying your goal, you can’t know for sure if you’ve actually fulfilled it.

In the next post, we’ll talk about how to take this SPECIFIC, SIGNIFICANT and MEASURABLE goal and turn it into a reality.

Read the other posts in this series.

Part 1          Part 2          Part 3

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