SMART goal tips for success

Success with a SMART goal involves creating an action plan including milestones and strategies to overcome hurdles.

Sticky note that says

Creating a resolution or goal for yourself can be exciting yet daunting to start. The good news is that goal setting doesn’t have to only take place at a new calendar year. Goals can also be short term, medium term or long term depending on what you are trying to achieve in your life. When you feel there is something you want to work on to move yourself forward, you can set a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) to improve your life. The article, “Planning for action, step by step” from the National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward) by author Robby Champion provides a great framework in connection to action plans for those goals. An action plan includes the goal, hurdles, steps to achieve the goal, milestones and resources needed for success.

Michigan State University Extension recommends these goal-setting tips:

  • Speak positively about your goal and use “I will” language to encourage the concept that it will take place.
  • Plan for hurdles or challenges as part of the plan. For example, if time is a barrier to your goal, include strategies to find more time or utilize your time more effectively to help you more successfully achieve your goal.
  • Reset your goal if you don’t reach a milestone or benchmark in your goal; rework the timeline so you are still striving for your goal and not tossing out the progress you have made.
  • Make sure your goal is a reasonable stretch, not too easy or too hard, worthwhile to you (not something you think you should do or others think you should do) and be something you are willing to commit to.
  • Your goal should be specific with numbers, dates and amounts to make a goal measurable. Then, break the goal into tasks that can be celebrated as milestones and demonstrate achievement.

Want to increase your success with goal setting? A WDET radio interview from MSU Extension includes these suggestions and more, as well as examples, to make your SMART goal a reality.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives. For more information or resources on career exploration, workforce preparation, financial education, or entrepreneurship, contact

Did you find this article useful?