set smart life goals

How to set SMART life goals and not be deceived

SMART life goals come in every shape, form, and color. Some have big goals, and some just want to live a simple life.

Yet, it can be tricky to look for answers on how to set life goals. Billionaires, athletes, and anybody who seems to have their life together tell us about how they did it. However, those goals seem unattainable to the regular human. Therefore, how can you set SMART life goals and not be deceived?

What are life goals?

Life goals are a set of personal goals set on a long time period that are made to achieve something meaningful to us. they come in different shapes and sizes and are generally not survival-oriented. Being value-oriented, life goals can help you achieve many things. Archive dreams you might have, change attitudes towards a matter, give you a sense of direction and make you feel accountable. All to be able to achieve happiness in some way.


Why should I have or try to set life goals?

Setting life goals is important. All success-oriented people can tell you that it is through setting clear life goals that they have been able to achieve them. But setting SMART life goals can be hard and you might be deceived.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” –Bill Copeland

In other words, if you aim for nothing you will achieve just that. It can be hard to sit down and plan out realistic life goals. That is why the SMART technique exists.

According to MindTool SMART is an acronym that can guide you to set your goals.

Its standard is usually attributed to Peter Drucker’s goal management concept. The first known use of the term appeared in George T. Doran’s Management Review published in November 1981. Since then, Professor Robert S. Rubin (St. Louis University) has written an article about SMART in an article by the Industrial and Organizational Psychology Association. According to Rubin, you have to make sure your goals are clear and reachable because SMART stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Hence, These five words that make up the acronym for SMART are key methods for planning out, setting, and achieving goals. However, throwing around five words and hoping they can help you achieve a goal is not the way to go. So, how can you use these simplified SMART words to set out your future life goal?


Using the SMART Method to set life goals:

smart method graphic meaning

As every method has a beginning and an end, so do SMART for life goals. to to set your goals you first have to specify them:

1- Specific (simple, sensible, significant):

It does not matter what goal you’re trying to achieve, it needs to be specific. As humans, we tend to get lost in overthinking and daydreaming about achieving certain things in life that we tend to go big and render things complex when they shouldn’t be. therefore, before setting a goal you have to specify it. It needs to be a specific goal, not complex ( go straight to the point), and it needs to hold significance to you.

When we say not complex, we do not mean to oversimplify it but what we mean is in case, for example, if your goal is to learn how to draw a human face, you’re not going to start by setting a goal of drawing the full face on the first day. If you cut down the action and simplify it, you can start by learning how to draw an eye, or perhaps a nose before you set out to draw the whole face. This helps you both learn how to draw specific parts of the face and makes the task of drawing a full face easier as you will now have mastered drawing all parts of it.

In other words, if you cut down the goal to overly simplified tasks it will make the general goal easier.

2- Measurable (meaningful, motivating):

Having a specific goal is one thing, keeping track of how well you’re doing in the process is another. It is easy to start on the right foot, write down specific goals you want to achieve on a piece of paper, hang it somewhere, do it twice and forget about it. However, keeping track of any type of progress happening and using that progress as motivation is the perfect way to make sure to not forget about it.

As we stated before, your goal needs to hold a certain significance to you, it should be meaningful. If something is of significance to us, it usually is on our minds, at the very least bothering us in that small corner of our brain. that is why you should try to keep track of how you might have improved, or how much of your goal have you achieved so far. In case there’s progress you’ll continue on your path, and if there’s some digressing, or the goal seems to not want to move from its place in terms of progress you might want to try a different approach than the one you’re using.

3-Achievable (agreed, attainable):

Many people get lost in overthinking and daydreaming about goals that they forget that there are some goals that cannot always be achieved. before you set out to start working out your goal, you need to make sure that it is realistically attainable. For example, one of my goals as a child was to be able to fly off with my own pair of wings like a bird (and I mean this literally).

However, that is not an achievable goal, yes, I could try to go sky diving or bungee jumping, however, that is not really achieving the dream because my dream is not realistic. This was just an example to show that yes, you can have a goal that you want to achieve and that you’re planning hard for however, some goals can be quite unrealistic, henceforth, quite unattainable.

4-Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based):

On top of it needing to be realistic, your goal needs to be relevant, to either you (if it is a self-focused goal) or others (if it is outside of self-goal).

if your goal answers yes to any of these questions then it might be relevant:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Can I see active results from the goal?
  • Does this match my other efforts/needs?
  • Do I have enough resources to achieve my goal?

5-Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive):

Goals come in different forms time-wise. Some goals are short term and others are long-term ones. It doesn’t matter how long the timeline of your goal is. Every goal needs a deadline, so you have a deadline to focus and work on.

This part of the SMART goal criterion helps prevent daily tasks from taking precedence over your long-term goals.

These are the five parts that make planning life goals easier. However, there are things that you should keep in mind when setting down your goals.

How to not be deceived when setting life goals?

The main steps of setting life goals are to follow the SMART method above. Yet, it can happen that some goals can not be achieved and that can be deceiving. So, to achieve that you should always keep in mind that:

  1. Goals that someone else has power over can be deceiving as you are not the person in control of the outcome, though you can try your best. eg: If your goal is to get a promotion the outcome of if you do get it depends on who else applies, and on the recruiter’s decision. But trying to become the best candidate by getting experience and mastering your job is a good way to be considered.
  2. Don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. It can be deceiving to set out a goal and not plan out for all possible outcomes of that road. Look at your goal realistically and plan out the main route and side routes in case the main one fails or does not work.
  3. Life goals can change with time. You might have started out with a specific goal in mind but with practice and experience you might have diverted from the original goal and that is okay. Not everything is meant to go the way we imagine it the first time. Just keep in mind that before becoming an achiever you have to be someone who’s willing to try things.

Stay SMART and let us know in the comments about your experiences using the SMART method.