SMART Goal Setting

by Jacob Abshire on January 15, 2015

SMART doesn’t just happen.

If you’ve been keeping up, we’ve been preparing ourselves for goal setting. We started by reflecting on the prior year and turning our failures into steps toward growth. Then, we identified the ultimate goal in goal setting. After that, I suggested that you consider every aspect of your life when goal setting.

Now, the real fun happens. Let’s … make … goals!

I like the SMART method for goal setting. It was originally introduced by Peter Drucker as criteria for setting objectives. In my experience, it’s been an excellent guide.

Grab a pen and paper. You might need a few sheets. You’ll want to write this down and get it in front of you to truly engage this exercise. And, as you develop your goals, you will be rewriting them until they are SMART.

List each of your goals. Then, on another sheet of paper, try to revise your list by using the SMART criteria below.


SMART goals are not general. They are very specific. They are clearly identifiable, obvious, and exact. For instance, a goal like “Save money” is vague. A SMART goal would be “Save $6,000 in my savings account by the end of the year” because it is specific.


SMART goals are quantifiable. You can measure them. There are definite ways to determine whether they were achieved or not. A goal like “Get into shape” is unmeasurable. But changing it to “Lose twenty pounds this year” makes it SMART because you can measure it.


SMART goals are actions, not states of being. Your goal should start with a verb. It is something to do. “Be more healthy” is not actionable. It is a state of being. A SMART goal would be “Run for one hour each weekday” because it is an action you can do.


SMART goals should be realistic, not delusional. They should be out of your comfort zone, but not so far out they’re impossible to reach. For example, it is delusional for most of us to have a goal of “Triple my income this year.” But, “Increase my revenue by 10% this year” is SMART because it’s realistic for most people.


SMART goals have deadlines. Target dates give you focus and a sense of urgency. A goal like “Paint the entire house” is open-ended. You have no reason to start because you have no idea when to finish. A SMART goal would be “Paint the entire house by March of this year.”

(I discovered this particular form of the SMART criteria from Michael Hyatt, who added Exciting and Relevant to the acronym to make it SMARTER. He encourages people to have goals that are compelling and appropriate for the season of life.)

Write and rewrite your goals until they all meet the SMART criteria. This is the necessary first step in goal setting. Goals that aren’t SMART are usually nothing more than dreams.

To get you started, here are a few of my goals this year:

  1. Publish five posts to my blog each week this year.
  2. Run at least 30 minutes three times per week this year.
  3. Pass six courses in seminary by December.
  4. Read through the Bible chronologically before December.
  5. Launch a new church service for my company by March.
  6. Memorize the book of James during the summer.
  7. Write War and the Great Throne study guide and devotional by April.

Now, try writing your own goals. Need some help or want to share your goals? Put them in the comments below.

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