Attainable Goals the “A” in SMART Goals

Goals are the destination points which determine our journey’s pathway.

Going through life without a defined set of goals is like taking a road trip to nowhere. You may have a fun and productive journey, but you will never quite know where you are going to end up.

Setting goals and defining the end points to where we are going is one of the first steps to taking hold of your future.

Set Attainable Goals
Goals have to be attainable. Defining attainable depending on what you are willing to do to reach your goals. As I mentioned in the overview of the SMART goal process, I push my students to come up with big audacious goals that literally scare them.

How can a big scary audacious goal be attainable? Isn’t this contradictory in some sense? Not really.

Keep in mind that the broader framework for the topics I write about are based on building authentic intentional relationships. By setting out to achieve big scary audacious goals, you are literally forced to include others in the process of reaching them. Can you set out to achieve anything if you just include others, no. There are still limitations; however, you can definitely expand your options by including a relationships component.

The relevance for talking about relationship building above is to help explain why goals can, and should, be bigger than originally thought.

Below is the sample goal that I am using as an example of the type of goal formats you should be using.

Sample Goal

Become a recognized authority in internet marketing for small to mid-size companies
by May 2013, defined by my ability to generate at least $10k/month in receivables.


What are the components of this goal that are attainable?

  • May 2013
  • $10k/month in receivables
  • recognized authority
  • internet marketing
  • small to mid-size companies

Here I have adjusted slightly in how I am going to highlight the attainable components by discussing two of them out of order. This is in order to highlight the importance of these two components above all else.

May 2013- This date is nearly 2 years away from the time that I am actually writing this article. Assuming this is a real goal I had created for myself, it is important to see that I set it far enough out into the future allowing me time to build up to it.

By giving myself 2 years to achieve this goal, I can define all the steps needed and then have enough time to accomplish the goal. Most people I have worked with and spoken to concentrate too heavily on tomorrow without considering next year or five years from now. Of course you are not going to be an expert tomorrow, much less next year. But if you start planning out how to become an expert and diligently work towards that goal, then you can accomplish it over time.

$10k/month in receivables- Here is where we can really get tripped up. Sure we can all dream about making our first $1M and swear that we are going to make $250k/yr in our first job out of the MBA program, but is necessarily attainable right away? The size of the financial component is proportional to the time duration to which is listed above.

Had I listed $20k/month or $50k/month here, then depending on where I am starting from as to the actual attainability of this component of the overall goal.

recognized authority- By itself this component is not so easily assessable for attainability. Just like with the time line and revenue components above, we have to look at the overall goal to see how this plays in.

In this case the goal is calling for “a” recognized authority within a specific industry vs. “the” recognized authority. In the Measurement article I listed four ways that authority can be measured. Given the timeline and that authority is more loosely defined as one among others, then it is reasonable to assume this component is attainable.

internet marketing- Currently in the year 2011, the internet industry is still considered by some to be a wild west not yet fully be defined. There are still plenty of niches here to carve out an expertise in.

small to mid-size companies- Developing an authority stature for any size company is not an easy task. Any size of company will have it’s own set of complexities. In this case I am making the assumption that it is reasonable to assume one can set out to become an authority within these segments over a two year period- given that so much is changing all the time.

Note that the goal does not specify the level of authority. The further out the goal is set, the more potential in achieving a higher status of authority. Authority comes in part from research, but one must also have the ability to test theories and experience and witness the ups and downs of an industry to truly start to understand it.

Again, the internet is still considered to be a wild west type of industry. Many of the executives that I know and have done business with in this industry have been in the industry much longer than I have. One of the things they consistently tell me is that what works today will fail tomorrow in the internet world. Companies that survive typically survive through the process of augmentation and sometimes outright reinvention.

Up to this point the articles have walked through the Specific, Measurable, and Attainable parts of the SMART goal formation process. Next I will address the Realistic part.

© 2011 Rex Humphries

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