How to Create and Set SMART Goals

Most people spend so much effort and time trying to find their passion and purpose in life, trying to achieve a decent work-life balance, trying to get a pay rise, trying to get more clients for their business, trying to lose weight, or in most cases- spreading themselves thinly trying to do everything and anything while actually accomplishing very little.

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a purpose, not to people or things” ~ Albert Einstein


When I returned back to my corporate job in 2014 from a 1 year maternity leave after having my first son, I found that I was becoming unhappy with my life and was inundated with the pressures of a demanding job and working mom guilt whilst trying to balance the transition from being a working girl to becoming a working mom. After literally hitting rock bottom, I finally figured out that my overall goal in life is simply to:

Enjoy Every moment

You can have simple goal statements for different phases and stages in your life. There is no right or wrong approach when it comes to creating and setting a career, business or parenting goal however using the SMART concept can help you focus your goal setting and set yourself for success. SMART, an acronym commonly attributed to Peter Drucker’s Management by Objectives concept is widely used to guide goal setting. I have used the SMART concept in the last 9 years to set yearly goals, objective statement and for my performance reviews at work.


SMART Goal statements can provide anyone with direction and purpose, and orient you toward goals that are simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound (short-term and long-term). Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. The key advantage of SMART goals is that they are easier to understand and to know when they have been done. In order to set goals in, a clear, realistic and achievable goal statement should be identified.


I have created a free, simple and easy-to-use SMART Goals setting template, you can use it throughout the year for small, medium or even big sized goals related to career, business, training, fitness, diet, finance, volunteering etc. Feel free to download it here for FREE.

SMART stands for:

Achievable (Attainable)
Relevant (Realistic)
Time bound (Timely)


A lack of focus leads to a lack of progress

What is the goal and Why is this goal important to you? Your goal should target a specific objective or area for improvement and should be simple, sensible, significant and stretching. SPECIFIC answers questions related to What, Why and How. Some questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:
What exactly do I want to achieve?
Why do I want to achieve this goal?
How do I intend to achieve this goal?
What are the limitations and obstacles that might prevent me from achieving this goal
What are possible alternative ways or options of achieving the same goal?

Example Imagine that you are currently a project support officer and a mom of children aged 2 and 4, and just returned back from maternity leave and you would like to become a Project Manager, a SPECIFIC goal could be “I want to​ gain the skills and experience necessary to become a Project Manager within my organization’s CRM department or seek suitable external opportunities so that I can​ build and progress my career​ through managing a successful project team



You cannot manage what you don’t measure

Your set goal should be quantifiable or at least suggest an indicator of progress in order to stay focused and motivated. Goals should be measurable so that you can have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. This can be through setting short-term or smaller measurements incorporated into the overall goal. A measurable goal should address questions such as:
•How much?
•How many?
•How will I know when it is accomplished?

Example You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to become a Project manager by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses such as PMP, PRINCE2 or a MSc in Project Management within a 6 months timeframe. Your measure of progress for acquiring the new skills could look like this:

“Within the next 6 months, I intend to undertake a project management training course that would enable me acquire the PRINCE2 practitioner qualification”

The key measure in this example is whether or not you would have attained a Project Management PRINCE2 qualification within the next 6 months.



It always seems impossible until it is done.

Your goal needs be attainable based on known constraints and available resources. Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself outside your comfort zone. Goals should be achievable, they should stretch you outside your comfort zone so you feel challenged but realistic enough so that you can achieve them. You must possess or aim to attain the appropriate skills, knowledge and abilities needed to achieve the goal otherwise you would be more likely to fail. That doesn’t mean that you can’t take on something that seems impossible and make it happen by taking a bold step, planning smartly and going for it. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How can I accomplish this goal?
How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial circumstance, time?

You might need to do a self-assessment to ask yourself whether ​developing the skills required to become a Project Manager is achievable, based on your ​existing ​experience and qualifications. For example, given you have 2 young children, would you be able to set aside some time to complete the required trainings and coursework effectively? Can you afford to pay for the training courses based on your financial circumstances? In this section write down any known obstacles that might prevent you from achieving your goals and a mitigation action for each obstacle.
An example of an obstacle could be ability to set aside 2 hours every evening to study for the course, a mitigation action could be putting the kids to bed an hour earlier or enlist the help of your spouse to manage bedtime routines.
In this section also write out atleast 5 tasks or actions that can help you achieve your goals. Assign a target date to each tasks preferably on a weekly or monthly basis.



When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.

Every goal should be assessed to ensure it is worthwhile i.e. it matters to you, it is reasonable, realistic and aligns with your overall goals and values. A RELEVANT goal will usually answer questions such as:
What is the objective behind the goal?
Will this goal really achieve that?
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this goal align with your personal values?
Is it applicable based on my current circumstances and commitments?

You might want to ​gain the skills to become a Project Manager within your current organization or seek opportunities elsewhere, but ​is this the right time to undertake the required training, or work toward additional qualifications or take on additional responsibilities to broaden your experience as a Project Support Officer given you have very young children who needs you? Have you also considered your spouse’s goals? For example, if your spouse is a busy Sales Executive who travels abroad frequently for work, would ​completing the training in all your free time mean you would require extended childcare and there wouldn’t be any parent with your children in the evening, would this go against your family values?



Every great achievement require time

Every goal should have a deadline to specify when the milestones can be achieved. Set deadlines for yourself against each of your milestones however keep the timeline realistic and flexible.
In the above example, gaining the skills and experience to become a Project Manager may require additional training​ or experience​, as we mentioned earlier. How long realistically will it take to acquire these qualifications? Do you need​ to gain some specific project experience, so that you’re eligible for certain exams or qualifications? It’s important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

Within the next 6 months, I want to​ acquire a PRINCE2 qualification to build my knowledge and enable me become a Project Manager within my organization’s CRM department or seek suitable external opportunities so that I can​ build and progress my career​ through managing a successful project team.”

Within the next year, I want to shadow a Project Manager to learn the skills needed to become a successful as a Project Manager”

I have created a free, simple and easy-to-use SMART Goals setting template, you can use it throughout the year for small, medium or even big sized goals such as career, business, training, fitness, diet, finance, volunteering etc. Feel free to download it here for FREE.


How SMART can be applied to your personal life

New Job
Perhaps one of your goals this year is to get a new job. Your goal statement might look like this: “I want to​ get a new job as a HR executive so that I can​ build and progress my career​ through managing an organisation’s recruitment, learning and development and employee performance programs and also improve my personal finances”. Some of your milestone steps to achieve this goal can include :

Revise and Tailor your CV
Search Online for Job Opportunities
Update your LinkedIn Profile
Call or Email your recruiter

A SMART goal setting for Search Online for Job Opportunities might be “Check online for job opportunities at least four times every week, persistently searching for atleast one hour each time. create job alerts on the job sites my desired job can be found”

Have you always dreamed of traveling around the world, but it’s never happened? Maybe its never happened because you don’t have the time or the money or cant sort out childcare, and you keep putting it off every year. Try setting SMART goals to help make your travel plans specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. You might find that the real reason you haven’t traveled is because your plans have been unattainable or not focused. Think about how you can adjust your vision and rephrase it as a SMART goal, so that you can make your dream come true. Below is a rough example of what a travel goal could look like.

I intend to visit one country in Europe over a 4 day period where I can learn about a new culture. I will enlist the support of my husband to help with childcare (or mom, sister, mother-in-law, aunt, brother) and ensure that I provide them atleast 4 months notice to ensure they can plan toward it. I will save £50 every month to go towards my travel fund. I will research budget travel deals that ensure I spend a maximum of £350 on the trip.


Did you ever wish you improved upon your relationship with your spouse or spent more time together and it never happened due to the pressures and demands of life? Try Setting SMART goals to make this become a reality.

You can set an simple goal such as “Organise a date night or lunch once every month in the next 6 months“. Assuming you chose to set a goal for a weekly date night, this might not be realistic given your personal circumstance e.g childcare arrangements, work commitments etc. and might impede you from realising it altogether. Also, the fact that you set out options for date night or date lunch means that you have set yourself to be in a position to attain it.


Interested in S.M.A.R.T. goal setting?
Are you overwhelmed by the frustration of feeling stuck and not moving forward in your career or life the way you wanted?
Are you ready to ditch the overwhelm in your career or life and start seeing results?
Are you overwhelmed by not being able to live the live you’ve always wanted.

There is nothing more valuable than learning how to get to where you want to be from someone who has already grown and is still growing. I want you to know that I am here to support you and help you along your journey. If you’re interested in a Career or life coaching session using SMART goal setting or any other coaching technique, let me know! Email for more information or to make an appointment.


Have you created or set any SMART Goals previously?



  1. Titi
    January 16, 2018 / 3:49 am

    This has inspired and encouraged me. Welldone Folake!

  2. January 18, 2018 / 10:28 am

    I’ve been looking at my goals for this year and never really given it much thought into why goals fail. I will have to apply the SMART thinking to them in future

  3. January 18, 2018 / 1:37 pm

    This is very inspiring, I’ve just downloaded your worksheet. I’m keen to set some SMART goals
    Rebecca Smith recently posted…What Type Of Mum Are You?My Profile

  4. January 18, 2018 / 1:54 pm

    This is really interesting – I had heard about SMART goals but had never had them explained to me so didn’t really understand. I’m definitely going to be setting some SMART goals now
    Mellissa Williams recently posted…How To Use The New York City PassMy Profile

  5. January 18, 2018 / 5:21 pm

    Oh wow this is so interesting! I am terrible at setting goals and actually fulfilling them, this is so motivational!

  6. January 18, 2018 / 9:56 pm

    I try to apply the SMART rule to all of my goals, it makes them feel far more achievable – and I should know, I set ALOT of goals. Haha

  7. January 19, 2018 / 11:10 pm

    I think measuring progress is so important. It will either serve as a nice confidence boost or a reminder that you should work a little harder to reach your goals!

  8. January 20, 2018 / 11:07 am

    Having worked in marketing for a law firm for many years, goal setting was something you were expected to do. The bit that used to get most people was measuring it. Everyone has to agree on the best outcome I think or you won’t know if you have met a team goal.
    Linda Hobbis recently posted…Mums – How Important Is School Run Style?My Profile