Benefits and pitfalls of SMART framework

management, productivity

Why is it important to make your goals smart?

Before you read any further, I want to clarify that by goal I mean the outcome you desire. 

Example: if your goal is to weight 60kg by the end of the August 2017. Look beyond the number. And ask yourself following- What will it mean for you? What will you have as result of achieving targeted weight? 

These OUTCOMES could be: 

You'll feel healthier. 

You'll have more energy to play around with your kids. 

You'll feel better about yourself, that'll boost your confidence and give you just the amount of confidence you need to land a new client contract or a new job, or new post within your career. 

It'll give you sense of accomplishment and it'll lay base ground for the future projects you may want to pursue. 

It'll grow the belief in yourself. 

Now we’re clear on specifying the outcome, what I want you to remember is to look at much bigger picture of your goal than just material side of goal setting. 

It's your chance to consider what you want from 2019. You have option to go in direction the life steers you in or you could grab a wheel and spin it, SET YOUR OWN DIRECTION. 

Rather than placing too much value into what you want, consider how you want to feel. What person you want to become? What colleague you want to be to those around you? What sister do you want to be? Owner of what business do you want to be? 

Many personal development books and coaches will advise you to set SMART goals. 

And SMART model is great to follow to get clear outline of your direction. It’s perfect for identifying specific goal, gaining clarity on what is It you want, measuring progress, identifying the outcome and how you’re going to know once you’ve accomplished it and adding time frame. 


S   What specifically do you want?

M   How are you going to measure it? 

A    In order for you to be able to achieve it - what skills will you need to obtain? What will make it achievable for you? 

R    How realistic is achieving what you want? This is to guide to set appropriate time limit

T    When do you want to achieve it by? 

Let’s break the SMART down so you can use it on your desired outcome.

This is how you set a SMART goal

The concept is straight forward and easy to use. Here are some of the questions to help you navigate and SMART UP your goal.


What exactly do you want to accomplish?

What will it look like when you reach your objective?

Choose a time frame that makes sense for this objective, and tell me exactly what you want to have accomplished by then?

Be even more specific: What is the outcome that you want?


How can you quantify this goal (put in into a number) so you’ll know when you’ve reached it?

If you said you want ‘a more balanced life’: define what you mean by ‘more’ and what you mean by ‘balanced’? What does ‘balanced’ mean for you?

How could you state this objective so your progress toward it is measurable?


Is this goal within your capabilities? Is it reasonably possible?

Are there any barriers or circumstances that preclude reaching this goal?

Does this goal depend on anyone else’s choices? If so, how can you reword it so it depends only on you?


Why is this important to you?

What are you willing to let go of or cut from your schedule to work on this goal?

On a scale of one to ten, how important is it to you to reach this goal?


By when will you reach the goal? By when will this be an established habit?

When will you start?

What’s your deadline?

Smart goals are ideal for setting up short, small goals. However if you are a new to goal-setting, I would not advice you to start with being SMART. On the contrary, to set the goals which are going to fire you up, keep you going even when the going gets tough, you need to not be smart about it, you’ve got to let your mind wonder off into places it never been to before, consider things it never considered, move waaaay beyond your current circumstances, reality and possibilities. 

You want to be thinking so big that it may even seem impossible at the start. 

Let me give you an example with a huge goal what may seem unrealistic at the start, then following SMART framework it becomes achievable.

The secret to the effective goal setting is breaking it down into small manageable chunks. So let’s say your goal is to run marathon but you have not even started to run yet. This is not to say it is impossible goal for you. Absolutely not. 

What you need is to do your research. What will it take to be able to run marathon in a year time? You’d need to practice 5 times a week, change your diet, identify strong reason why you want to run marathon to keep your motivation up… and so on. Then you get down to breaking it down and scheduling it. Let’s say you’d start with: ‘Run for 10 minutes once a day for a week’, then ‘Run for 15 minutes once a day for a week’, and you are slowly scaling it as you are making progress. If you are truly serious about your goal. It is possible. 

See, It is a useful tool to guide you, but it'll hardly fire you up into action. 

What will fire you up Into action? 

You may be thinking, how can I do this for myself?

Well, firstly you need to accept that where you are now is your responsibility. What actions you have taken in the past led you to this moment. 

I strongly believe that once you accept your responsibility, it’ll start off small fire within you. It’ll wake you up to the moment when you’ll say to yourself - Enough. I am claiming back the power. I will create and manifest what I want. I will create my results. 

There lies unbelievable strength within accepting responsibility. 

If you don’t accept it, you’ll always blame someone else or outside circumstances for the experiences you found yourself in. 

Some adults, to this day, blame their parents for the life they live. Accept that your parents did what they did. Perhaps they acted from their best abilities. Now it is time for you to move on. 

Because you grew up in poor neighbourhood, does not mean you have to die poor. Because you've experienced hardship does not mean, it still has to grip enormous control over you. You can accomplish success, whatever success means for you. You can obtain lifestyle you desire. Start with taking responsibility. 

, by using SMART model you outlined what you want to achieve. Great. Now you need to get clear on why you want it. What will achieving this goal give you? What person will you become? Where are you going to be? What feelings will this evoke in you? What makes this goal so important for you?

Thirdly, you just need to answer this - How will you get it? (What steps do you need to take to achieve it?) List them all down on A4 paper, into your journal, onto notes in your phone or on the page document. Whatever works the best for you. This is your action plan. Or use this tool to help you. Once you created your list, review all actions and decide in what order you need to take them. Number them up. 

What is the first action you can take? And are you willing to take it? When are you going to get it done by?

Motivation is playing a huge role in goal achievement. How will you keep yourself motivated? What motivates you?

To me, motivation is one of those big secrets many people try to crack but not many ones were successful. That’s because we all are different and we all are motivated differently. 

During my research for article: How to track your progress, I found that monitoring your progress is one of the motivators. Read more

A doze of optimism, pace into your walk and pinch of enthusiasm. When you get clear on not only your purpose but that one goal that sparks up the fire of desire within you, you'll become unstoppable. Because it fills you up with optimism which you cannot fake. You cannot 'act as if' into it either. 

What works for most people is:


Working towards a goal requires long hours of hard work. You may come across disappointments. Unsuccessful attempts. Complications. You get tired. To keep yourself going, is paradoxly, important to take a day breaks. 

For example: Decide that every Saturday, you will switch off. Spend time away from working towards your goal. Get occupied with your hobby. Read a book. Or even spend day watching TV. 

Your mind needs a rest. And you may find, these are the days you may come up with solutions to your problems, or the ways to get through the obstacles. 


Brendon Burchard, the most followed online trainer on personal development suggests using behaviour triggers to keep motivated and persistent towards your goal. This could be reminder on your phone and when it goes off it reminds you of 3 feelings you intentionally want to feel today. 


Treat yourself after each milestone. From the list you crated, you now know what your steps are. Some of them are more important that others. Some will require more work and more dedication than others. Identify your milestones and decide how will you treat yourself once you accomplish each and every one. 

Again, it could be, nice relaxing bath. Day on the sofa. Day out with your friends. Going to the cinema or attending live concert. Dinner with close ones. Whatever feels like reward for you. For more details, read my article: If you often feel dissatisfied with your performance, you’re probably making this common mistake

Lastly, take action. Nothing will give you the life you desire, only consistent and planned action. 

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” Bruce Lee

I could write about goals, and what effective goal setting is, if you however refuse to take action, no article will be of benefit to you. 

Creating a change in your life is possible and achievable, if you take responsibility and take required actions towards it. And let me know how you get on in the comments below.