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Goal Setting Tips: The Power of Choosing Good Goals

Over the years, thousands of seminars have been held on goal setting tips. Most of us recognize how important having a goal is—it’s why we set New Year’s resolutions, or make diet and exercise plans. We need a target to hit. We need a destination to reach.


photo credit: angietorres via photopin cc

But do you realize how few of us really use these goals we set? Most people make a list of goals, then leave it somewhere to rot. We go back to wandering; to playing “defense” with our calendars instead of offense. It’s why we reach the end of the year to discover much of that New Year’s resolution never materialized. We abandoned it by February. The reason for this, I believe, is we haven’t set SMART goals. This is an age-old tip, but one I need to be reminded of often.

Goal Setting Tips

For years, business leaders have taught that successful people set SMART goals:

S – Specific  (Make your goals clear and precise, not fuzzy and vague)

M – Measurable  (Make goals tangible enough they can be measured)

A – Attainable  (Set realistic goals—not so big they seem impossible)

R – Relevant  (Set goals that stretch you, yet match your identity)

T – Timely  (Make goals fit into the time frame you can manage)

As you work with students, this single habit will not only enable you to  perform better, it models for your young people something they’ll desperately need as they move into adulthood. So many kids get stuck as they mature because they are fuzzy about the end game. Can you guess why young people are obsessed with sports or video games? For many, it’s the one category of their lilfe where they have an explicit goal, and they know where they (or their team) stands. It’s also why so many adults don’t enjoy their work. They don’t have a clear target to hit.

So…this fall, let’s get back to the basics. Why not set some SMART goals and then go after them?

What are some goal setting tips that have worked for you? Leave a comment below.


  1. Kurt Earl on September 29, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Years ago, in 1997 as a freshman in high school, I read Michael Johnson’s “Slaying the Dragon”. All these years later I am yet to read a book that better outlines how to set a goal, how to pursue and what to do when you succeed or fail. What you have written here is very similar, but obviously he expands and teases out all the details.

    • Tim Elmore on October 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      Thanks for passing that along!

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Goal Setting Tips: The Power of Choosing Good Goals