S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Well, it is finally the year 2021!  Now, what?

As many, you are probably thinking of setting New Year’s resolutions; perhaps not as statistics bear out that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions are broken.  With that said, why bother, but instead, you may wish to consider the following:

Setting SMART Goals

But wait, what are SMART Goals?  SMART Goals is a well-established tool that you can use to plan and achieve your goals. While there are a number of interpretations of the acronym’s meaning, the most common one is that goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each GOAL should be:

  • 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).



Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five “W” questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Example: Imagine that you are currently an architecture student and you would like to obtain a summer position in a firm. A specific goal could be, “I desire to gain a summer position within an architecture firm where I can develop skills.”


It is important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

Example: You might measure your goal of obtaining a summer position by tracking your search for the position.


Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

Example: You might need to ask yourself whether securing a summer position is achievable?  For example, do you have the time to search and obtain the position?  Are the necessary resources available to you?  Can you afford to do it?


This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal.

A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?

Example: You might want to gain the skills to secure a summer position, but is it the right time?  How does obtaining a summer position connect with longer term goals.


Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:

  • When?
  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Example: Securing a summer position may require additional skills or experience.  How long will it take you to acquire these skills?  It is important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

Thus, best for your new goals in 2021.  What are your goals for 2021?  Let us know —

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