How to Use S.M.A.R.T Goals to Achieve Success

Credit: David Duarte

There are times in our lives when we know what we want, but we just can’t get there.

Whether it is finding that new job or internship, landing that promotion we always coveted, having more time with our family, or buying that new car, we often come across obstacles that make these goals a fantasy.

But how often does fantasy become reality?

Fantasy is defined as “the faculty or activity of imagining impossible or improbable things” (Oxford Dictionaries, ph. 1, 2014.)

Things look grim, but fortunately, things can be different. With the right frame of thought and some organization, our goals can move away from fantasy and become SMART.

SMART goals can make your long-term goals more manageable (Occupational Health, 2008).

What are SMART goals?






Let’s work through an example:

Our long-term goal is to have more time with our family. The goal “having more time with our family” is a bit vague and perhaps in the realm of fantasy.

Steps to creating a SMART goal:

1. Ground the goal in reality –– make it more specific.

For example, we can modify the goal to “I would like to go eat at a restaurant with my significant other and kids once a week on Saturday night for two hours.”

2. The next order of business is to make our specific goal measurable in order to know that you achieved that goal.

Having a target date is a good way to achieve this. For example, you can say “By December 31, I would have gone out with my significant other and children for two hours to a restaurant on Saturday night X amount of times.”

3. Making a goal achievable is also important to keep them out of the realm of fantasy, and therefore not improbable or impossible.

The goal must be something you can achieve. Unless you and your family are astronauts, having dinner every Saturday night in outer space may not be an achievable goal.

4. Your goal must also be relevant.

In other words, you goal must be something that is important to you so that you will be motivated to achieve it. Dining at a restaurant every Saturday night with your significant other and children may not be a good goal for you if you hate eating out.

5. Finally, your goal must be timely.

Having a time frame in which to achieve your goal will give you a sense of urgency to complete it. Having deadlines, after all, can be very motivating.

Albert Einstein once said “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or objects,” (Einstein, N.D.). Perhaps Dr. Einstein was on to something.


Einstein, A. (N.D.). Einstein. Retrieved from

HOW TO… motivate yourself. (2008). Occupational Health, 60(1), 25.

Oxford Dictionary (2014). Fantasy. Retrieved from

About the Author:


Gilbert Franco is a licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of California. He is also the author of Chronicles of Essencia: My Lost Wing. He is currently a Ph.D. student at Walden University and is writing his dissertation on the relationship between productivity standards set by community mental health organizations and MFT job satisfaction and turnover intent.

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Gilbert Franco

Gilbert Franco works and volunteers his time as an independent HR and business consultant. He is a clinical supervisor at the McAlister institute where he supervises master's level interns and trainees. He is also the author of Chronicles of Essencia: My Lost Wing and has completed his dissertation on "Productivity standards, marriage and family therapist job satisfaction and turnover intent." For further questions, email Gilbert at