Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals – Goal Setting Theory

Goals are important road map on our life journey. They are the performance boosters, and people with right goals become more successful than those having no goals. They are not only more successful but also happier in life. Scientific study has proven that achieving goals releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine which creates the happy feelings.   Properly set goals help us keep focused on right areas while not worrying about lesser important things. Goals are our guiding light without which we can drift and wander. If you have let yourself not to explore the tremendous utilities of goals then start setting goals for yourself today.

One common problem people face in setting goals is that they do not know for what areas of the lives should they have goals? Many tend to think and set goals for their career or finances only.  But the career is not the sole important area in our lives; there are other important areas as well. Identify your life priorities and set goals for all the identified areas. Top Achievement, a personal development community, recommends setting goals for following areas of our lives –

  • Financial and career
  • Spiritual and ethical
  • Physical and Health
  • Social and Cultural
  • Mental and educational

After identifying the areas where you would like to set goal, the second challenge is to understand the basic of goal setting.  “SMART” is probably the best know goal setting model or framework. SMART goals should exhibit following characteristics:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable
  • R – Relevant
  • T- Time Bound

 I have added two new attributes to make it SMARTER

  • E – Ego-proof
  • R – Re-usable


The first requirement of the model stresses upon the need of a well defined and specific goal. The goal should not be generic or vague; it should explain exactly what is expected. For example, if you are setting goal for your health then “I want to reduce significant weight” is not a specific goal. It does not tell the exact expectation of “significant weight”. “I want to reduce 10 pounds” – it is a specific goal.


The second requirement stresses the need of having a proper measuring scale for your goal. This is needed so that you can measure the success or failure of your goal. Again if I take the example of health goal then “I want to become 10% healthier” is not a measurable goal. You cannot measure the state of health.  “I want to reduce 10 pound” is both specific as well as measurable.


The purpose of this requirement is not set goals which we cannot achieve.  In the process of achieving the impossible, we will not only burn energy and waste time but also feel de-motivated by not achieving the goal. For example – “I want to reduce 100 pounds in a week” is not an attainable goal.


We should set goals which matters in our success and personal development. A relevant goal drives the motivation and it is well aligned with other life goals as well. For example “I will eat 20 jelly sandwiches in next three weeks” is specific, measurable and attainable. But it is not relevant to better health.


All goals should be defined within the time boundaries – give your goals a target date. No goal can be effective without the commitment of a target date. Without a date, it is often easy to lose the focus and divert away. “I want to reduce 10 pounds” is specific, measurable, attainable and relevant, but it is not complete unless we set up a time frame for losing 10 pounds.  So “I want to reduce 10 pounds in 4 weeks” – This is a goal which is complete as per the SMART model.

One basic problem with the SMART model is that it is very mechanical in nature and does not account for our emotional attachment with the goals. Also, the SMART model does not tell what to do with our goals when the task is complete? Should we start afresh and start making new sets of goals? To answer these two questions, I have added two more attributes to the SMART model.


We all feel disappointed if we fail to achieve an important goal. But the disappointment should not make us de-motivated about other goals. If a goal is missed then take lessons, revise the goal and continue to work on other goals. Do not attach our ego with the goals or every failure will become ever more difficult to deal with. Egoistic goals will hurt us more on failure and will jeopardize the chances of success for other associated goals as well.


We have worked hard and set up long term and short term goals for us. All these goals are time bound and we have accessed the success and failure once the time is up. Now what? Do you really want to go back and find new sets of goals? I don’t think so. Our goals should be reusable which means once the time is up then we should be able to reuse it with no or little modification.

Note : SMARTER acronym is also used before for goal setting, but the new attributes (Ego proof and Reusable) are entirely my belief. I have not found these two terms used anywhere else.

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One comment on “Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R Goals – Goal Setting Theory

  1. Every goal that I set involving physical activity is easier to achieve because of dopamiine, like you mentioned. I started training for a marathon when I was very overweight, but now I love to workout because of the chemical release of dompamine in the system.

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