Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

6 minutes
What's your goal for the new year?

What’s your goal for the new year?

As the month of January draws to a close, it’s inevitable that we start to look at strategizing what we’ll spend the rest of the year doing. My mind’s been on planning out this New Year so I have pointers to keep me on track and guide me through 2016. This is an exercise I diligently engage in every year and I find it quite helpful in that it gives me direction and keeps me focused. If you’re like me, then you probably engage in a similar exercise every year, then every monthly, every week, and even daily. I know I do daily goals just to stay sane and transfer those thoughts swirling in my head onto paper so I can free my mind to focus on one thing at a time. A checklist is my best friend and my constant companion.

Checklists are a lifesaver

Checklists are a lifesaver

I imagine that many of us are aware of the concept of setting goals. Simply put, goal setting is the process of identifying things we want to accomplish, then setting a time frame within which we aim to accomplish them in. Goals need to be smart if they stand a chance of ever being accomplished. Here, the word SMART is used as an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. This is intended to help us remember all the elements a goal needs to have so as to be achievable.

Better off with SMART goals

Better off with SMART goals

Specific: For a goal to be achievable, it has to target a specific area. Broad goals such as ‘I want to do better in life’ are too vague to result in any meaningful improvement. A goal such as ‘I want to finish college’ is better as it specifically targets the academic area, thus giving us some sort of direction to follow.

Measurable: Goals need to be quantified one way or another by a unit of measure. An indicator needs to be put in place to gauge progress. For the above goal of finishing college, stating what points we want to hit as we go along will help. For example, I want to do a semester each year’ makes the goal measurable at year-end because then you can gauge if you are on track as the year progresses.

Make it specific & measurable

Make it specific & measurable

Attainable: The goal should not be outlandishly unrealistic. For instant, I can’t state I want to complete college in one month when there’s no way I could cramp in all required subjects in a month. Always look at the resources that are available to you and realistically set goals that can be met with those resources.

Relevant: it is important to choose only goals that matter to what we’re trying to accomplish. Goals we set should harmonize with our overall vision for our lives so as to be relevant. A good example of relevancy in the above example is to be able to state what we intend to do once we finish college and how such an achievement will fit into the bigger picture of our life.

Make sure it's both relevant & attainable

Make sure it’s both relevant & attainable

Timely: without defining a timeframe within which a goal is to be met, chances are it won’t. Stating exactly how many weeks or months we intend to take will make the goal more real thus feasible. Breaking the goal further into even lesser timelines to track progress almost certainly guarantees us success. We’ve all heard the question ‘how does one eat an elephant’, and the ironically simple answer of ‘one bite at a time’. When we set a one-year goal, it helps to further break it down to monthly, weekly, then daily goals. This way we know what task we have to tackle daily in order to stay on track to achieving that year’s goal.

Now to the practical application

Now to the practical application

So what are my smart goals for this New Year? I have two; one relates to health goals and the other relates to improving this blog. The former is a bit more personal to define, so I will attempt to turn the latter into a smart goal.

Specific: By improving this blog, I mean to narrow down my options and find a clear voice through practicing and posting frequently. I am currently posting twice a week and I intend to keep this up throughout 2016.

Measurable: I am currently trying out different topics while tracking spikes in blog traffic so I know what topics resonate with my readership so I can lean more in that direction. Definitive patterns have yet to emerge but these should be evident by year-end.

Only base your goals on the resources that are available to you

Only base your goals on the resources that are available to you

Attainable: I really only have control over what I can do. So while I’d like nothing more than a very active, interactive and engaging ‘comment’ section for my readers, all I have control over is doing my best to write engaging posts that will give my readers something to comment about (as my webmaster put it when I suggested changing some technical layout of the website -ouch!). My goal is to gauge topics that my readership responds to and focus on those, which will then result in healthy commentary debates and interactions for further mutual learning to take place.

Relevant: the goal of growing this blog is two-fold. On the one hand, it is so I can benefit my readership and provide a platform of interaction to further debate topics that influence our lives one way or another, thus enriching our lives in countless way. On the other hand, blogging affords me the opportunity to master the craft of writing and to cultivate a passion for it, so much so that I can eventually exchange that masterly for freedom to determine my lifestyle and destiny on my terms. In these two ways I can serve others while also edifying myself, this is how it fits into my vision and my big picture (I will write about the importance of ‘knowing your ‘why’” in a later piece).

One bite at a time

One bite at a time

Timely: By close of 2016, I should have determined what my readership prefers so I can then be consistent in my chosen topics in order to better serve my audience. And how will I eat this ‘elephant’ one bite at a time? By looking at my statistics on a weekly basis and graphically charting what topics generated the highest traffic to my website. By the end of 2016, I should have a clear trend that will then set my blogging agenda for the next year, God willing.

In summary, my 2016 smart goal statement is: to improve my blog by continuing to post twice weekly while measuring readership engagement through tracking spikes in blog traffic and trending this at the close of the year to determine a clear pattern of readership topic preference so I can focus more on topics my readership prefer in order to be of better service to them, and to educate myself in the process through engaging in mutual peer dialogue and interactions in the comment section.

What are your New Year goals, and how are you going about setting them? Please let me know in the comment section below, if you please. Cheers!!

Photo credit: Lilian Nabora Photography

Dress: From Zara || Shoes: From Mango



  1. Grey Dynasty
    February 1, 2016 / 9:58 PM

    That’s another approach, focusing on the least consequential problem first -one bite at a time 🙂

  2. olga
    January 31, 2016 / 9:05 PM

    as for my goals for this year: I’d like to pass the Prince II foundation exam and enroll back to the VUB to finalize the Master’s of Management (only have Operations and Logistics Management and the Thesis to do)

    • Grey Dynasty
      February 1, 2016 / 9:55 PM

      Just looked into the Prince II foundation exam, project management -Interesting! For that VUB Master’s of Management, I did it too in 2008. You’re so close to the end you should finish it with no problem at all. Good luck Olga!

  3. olga
    January 31, 2016 / 8:55 PM

    focusing on one thing at a time is what I do as well. Normally I would solve or see to the easiest / less consequential problems first and leave the tougher ones for later

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