Smart Goals Are Great, but Are They Always Smart?

Last Updated on March 30, 2022 by Stephanie

Goals are so important, and SMART goals are definitely beneficial.  However, SMART goals have a certain place for certain goals.  This post is going to talk about what SMART goals are, and then talk about when you might want to use them.

SMART goals; Are they really that smart?; creating time for life; Person writing in journal.

What Are SMART Goals?

The acronym SMART refers to being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Let’s dive in here and talk about each component and what it means, as well as their possible limiting factors.

S – Specific

The S in SMART refers to being very specific about your goals.  This is the who, what, where when, and why of your goal.  This all ties together, but I’m going to admit that when researching different examples of SMART goals, I found the most important piece lacking.

Your why is absolutely the most important part of any goal!  

In the original idea of SMART goals from the 1980s, this why was part of being specific.  When you look at the newest iterations of the acronym, it typically just mentions not being broad with your goal.  It doesn’t mention the why. Please do not neglect reflecting first on why you want to have a goal in the first place.  If you don’t understand why you want something, you will not be motivated to keep working towards it. 

M – Measurable

M refers to being Measurable.  This is self-explanatory.  You need a target.  How do you know that your goal has been accomplished?

A – Achievable

The letter A means that your goal is Achievable.  On several sites, the word they use to describe this idea is “realistic”. They also interchange the word “attainable” with “achievable” in many cases.

I disagree to some point with this one… actually a lot.

“Realistic: based on what is real rather than on what is wanted or hoped for: not impractical or visionary”


Do you see this definition? Well, that is absolutely contradictory to the idea of a goal.  Isn’t a goal a target you want?  Don’t you have to have a vision for it?  In his book “The 10X Rule”, Grant Cardone says that to be super successful, don’t limit yourself.  You need crazy action to achieve great things.  In fact, he says that you should think of a goal and multiply it by 10.  If you want to earn $10,000 a month, your goal should be $100,000.  Do you want to lose 10 pounds?  Nope… what is your absolute ideal, shoot for the moon weight?

I absolutely understand the idea of setting an “achievable” goal, but frankly, I think it is crap.

You are amazing and you can do hard things.  Why sell yourself short?  Several studies have shown that when you set a goal lower, you will do less effort to reach it.  When you set yourself a higher goal, you realize that you need some serious action to get there.  Even if you fall short, you will probably surpass the goal you were going to originally set for yourself.

Aim high, because you are worth it!

R – Relevant

Honestly, everything that I could say about relevant goes along with what I said above when talking about an “achievable” goal as well.  In fact, sometimes when you research SMART goals the R is said to be “Realistic” and not “Relevant.” If you checked out my blog post about goal setting here, then hopefully you sat down and wrote a crud ton of goals down.  Some of these goals are the big ones, the ones that you want down the line, or maybe they are smaller short-term goals.

If they are your goals, they are automatically relevant.

Don’t let anyone decide if they are or not.  If it was a goal that popped into your head, it is relevant to you.  Don’t ask yourself if it is the right time or the right place for these goals.  If you want something in your life, you should absolutely be taking steps to achieve it.  If these are long-game goals, you might not be taking big action on them, but don’t discount them!

T – Time-Bound

T stands for making sure that your goal has a deadline.  This is important, but should not be the be-all-end-all of your goal.  While thinking about your goals, you do have an idea of when something should happen.  In his book “UnF*ck Yourself,” Gary John Bishop actually talks about how our subconscious has all these plans already.  He also talks about how these can prevent us from acting on things and can lead us to think differently about our goals and the actions needed to get to them.

If you have a deadline, that’s perfectly fine.  However, if you don’t have a deadline that is perfectly fine.  Most of my goals do not have a timeline to them.  I review my goals daily though, so they are always in the forefront of my mind as I am working through my day.  In fact, in my post about my morning routine, I talk about how I journal daily.  You can even read about my morning journaling habit here as well! This is one of the things I do daily, write out my goals.  Every month or so I also review my goals through the lens of asking why that is a goal I have.

Hand holding post it with words set goals.

When do SMART goals make sense?

Now that I’ve shared each piece and my thoughts on them, I’d like to demystify the idea of SMART goals.  When you search goal setting, SMART goals is absolutely one of the first things that pop up.  SMART goals have their place.  For things that have an actual deadline, they are perfect.

“I want to lose 15 pounds by my daughter’s wedding.”

“I want to pay off my student loans by 2023.”

These are great SMART goals, but they can be a bit beefier in my opinion.  Set that goal and go through the 4 step process I talk about in my post about goal setting!  State the goal, figure out why, know the actions you can take, and envision what this will look like once you achieve it!

“I am going to lose 15 pounds by my daughter’s wedding because I want to be healthier and happier for her special day.  I’m going to do this by making sure I’m eating healthier meals and going to the gym four times a week.  It is going to look like me being in a rockin’ dress and radiating happiness in all of the pictures.”

“I am going to pay off my students loans by 2023 because I know that my monthly payment causes me stress and I would rather be using that money for traveling and hobbies.  When I pay this off I’m going to be able to travel with my family and spend more money on my crafting.”

You can absolutely have a smart goal that isn’t SMART!

On my list of goals, which is quite extensive, by the way… I have several reach for the moon goals.  One goal I have is to travel the world and see and experience awesome things with my family.  This is not a SMART goal at all.  However, it is a great goal for me and I do have a why for it.  It is specific and relevant and achievable, but it isn’t time-bound or measurable.

That’s okay!

Depending on the goal and the time in your life, you may choose to be doing more action towards your goal.  If that’s the case, modify your goal to be more SMART.

Review your goals with consistency.

Open journal and coffee cup

A very important component of achieving your goals is reviewing them often.  If you set goals on January 1st and don’t look at them until December 31st to see if you reached any of them, that’s not going to work.  An author I mentioned before, Grant Cardone, suggests that you review your goals when you wake up and before you go to sleep at night.  Keep them close to you and review them often.

When a goal is reached, or you are close to reaching it, reevaluate it.  Set the bar higher, and achieve success off the momentum you’ve gained by getting so close to it.  You can absolutely achieve more than you think you can.

In conclusion, SMART goals have their place in a goal-setting journey.  Your goals do not have to fit this framework to be a great goal for you.  Check out my goal-setting freebie and check out my post about four great steps to take in setting goals to help you along in your awesomeness.

Be extraordinary and you can do anything!

If, after reading this, you still need some help, check out my goal-setting printables. The accompanying guide will take you step-by-step through creating your goals and breaking them down into something you can achieve.

Goal Setting Printables

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