Your Best Year Ever — How To Turn SMART Goals Into SMARTEST Goals

This article originally appeared on — helping high achievers amplify their leadership to become board ready and board worthy.

You may be like millions of others who have set goals in the past, only to see them unfulfilled as you got stuck or distracted. In this article, you will learn how to make goals that energize you and make a plan to achieve them for your best year ever.

Ask yourself what would be possible if you set and achieved these goals?

Or, ask, “I wonder what it would be like if….”

What is at stake if you don’t set goals?

What will you miss out on?

Your goals form the action plan to get you to the career and life you have imagined.

If you follow these steps below, you WILL have the best year ever.

Before you begin, block out some time and find a place where you can concentrate. Perhaps put on some inspiring music. Get ready to write — either at your computer or a with a pencil & paper.

Before you start, know this: When you write down a goal, you have a 42% greater probability of achieving it.

Ready? Let’s go.

Step 1 — First, brainstorm 6–8 big goals you want to achieve for the year

These should include, but not be limited to your career. You are a multi-dimensional person, with passions and interests in many areas. You are not the sum total of your work; and you will thrive in your work and life if your goals reflect that.

Think about what you’d like to achieve in your career, health, relationships, fun, service, spiritual life. As you pursue goals that are aimed at different areas of your life, the energy and achievement of one will undoubtedly enhance the achievement of others.

Step 2 — Now, turn these 6–8 goals into SMARTEST goals

You may have heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound.)

I’ve updated this idea to jumpstart your momentum. I recommend you aim for SMARTEST goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timebound
  • Exciting
  • Stretch
  • Today

Here’s how to set and achieve your SMARTEST 6–8 goals for this year:

Specific: Clarity motivates! Identify exactly what you want to achieve.
Here’s an example:

  • Instead of: Get a promotion.
  • Try: Present a pitch with documented rationale on why I’ve earned a promotion and why my company will benefit from it.

Measurable: Set a goal that can be quantified.

  • Instead of: Earn more than last year.
  • Try: Increase my income by $20,000 or 20%.

Actionable: Use action words — because nothing happens without action.

  • Instead of: Make new friends at work.
  • Try: Organize at least one Happy Hour a month.

Realistic: Big enough to motivate, without setting yourself up for a demoralizing experience if you don’t achieve your goal.

  • Instead of: Win an Academy Award.
  • Try: Join a local drama class or community theatre and perform in one play.

Time Bound: You need a specific deadline for each goal. Deadlines should be set so you are both making progress and achieving some goals throughout the year. Only a few of your goals should have a target date of December 31.

You’ll be more successful if you aim to achieve at least one goal every quarter, with deadlines like March 31, June 30, and Sept 30.

  • Instead of: Travel to Europe.
  • Try: Take a trip to Europe by November.

Exciting: Craft goals that inspire you to take action, not procrastinate.

  • Instead of: Lose 10 pounds (even though you hate the time and effort of dieting).
  • Try: Download a fitness/nutrition app to streamline losing 10 lbs.

Stretch: This is a push goal that is a catalyst for all others. This is one that will help make all your other goals come true, perhaps one that you have been avoiding, but if you accomplish it, it will help you achieve your other goals.

  • Instead of: Get more organized.
  • Try: Hire a professional organizer who has helped clients like me.

Today: Make your goals a daily focus.

  • Instead of: Write your goals down once, and review them at the end of the year.
  • Try: Look at your goals every day beginning first thing in the morning. It will energize you and keep your momentum going, especially when the inevitable resistance, challenges or interruptions threaten to stall your progress.

Step 3 — Ask yourself why — and keep asking!

Now that you have your SMARTEST goals identified, one of the best ways to anticipate and overcome challenges to achieving your goals is to write down WHY they are important to you.

Generally, your why for each goal will reflect on (or intersect with) your purpose and your strengths.

I’ll give you a few examples from my 2015 goals.

My purpose statement reads like this: “To use my experiences as a serial entrepreneur to help people from all walks of life to unleash and achieve their potential.”

One of my career goals for this year was to complete Release 1.0 of Pocket Mentor mobile app by March 31.

My why is: Because the app reflects my true purpose — to help people achieve the next levels of their potential, while also drawing on four of my top five Strengths: Input, Strategic, Activator, Futuristic.

Here’s another goal:

Family: Have a date night with my husband at least 2 times per month.

My why is: Because I want to make the time for us to have fun, talk, and grow closer — and a date night helps us regroup, and it sets a good example for our sons.

My stretch goal (remember, the one that helps make possible your other goals, and requires alot of effort) is to earn a recurring guest blog or columnist spot at a major publication.

My why for this goal is that it will provide valuable information to readers AND help grow a larger audience for Pocket Mentor and our products.

Notice that my whys for each goal intersect with my purpose and my Strengths, some more obviously than others.

As you review your goals every day, you can muse on your longer term plans, and determine the next step you need to take that day toward achieving your goals. You can modify your goals as needed to reflect your changing priorities and experience.

Now you have a framework to set and achieve your SMARTEST goals. Your mind is no doubt exploring a lot of ideas and imagining the possibilities.

What goals do you hope to achieve this year? I would love for you to share in the Comments!

I’m a serial entrepreneur (start-ups in tech and social impact) most notably co-founder and EVP of webMethods, Inc. which I grew from my basement to a $200m global, Nasdaq company with 1,100 team members. I now serve on several public company boards, write, speak, and advise high performance leaders. I’m married with two sons and our family loves to sail on our catamaran, Glad In It.

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