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Day 6: Setting SMART Goals

"If you aim for nothing, you'll hit every time" - Unknown


In the past few days, I asked myself why I didn't just make this a 5-day challenge and be done with it in one week. So much commitment is required to write a daily challenge, and as the post-festive work mounts up, I find myself wishing I hadn't committed so much so early in the year. As we all know, it's much easier to say "I'm going to do this" than to do it and commit to seeing it through till the end.


So why did I set such an audacious goal in the first place? The thing is, I'm working on being a published author. To achieve this, I have two options. The first one is to put a picture of a person who's just signed a book deal on my vision board and spend a few minutes a day manifesting that dream. The second option is to set a goal of writing one thousand words a day for 21 days for a worthy cause to muster the discipline and consistency I need to finish my book (it takes 21 days to build a habit). The first option is more manageable and can make me feel really good and ambitious, but the second option is what it takes to write a book. Actually putting in some practising is a better way of manifesting a book deal.

Now, of course, the real reason I embarked on this challenge was that I wanted to walk a path with everyone looking to have a more positive experience with their development journey. I wanted to share some of my principles and practises when it comes to goal-setting and guide everyone on the different steps it takes to set goals in a way that maximises our success in achieving those goals. This speaks to the motivation behind my 21-days challenge goal. To have testimonies of people who had a more impactful experience setting their plans for the year, who feel guided and supported, and who have better success in reaching their goals in 2022. This motivation is bigger than the effort it takes to write one thousand words a day for 21 days. This motivation is what will keep me going.

This brings me to today's focus: Understanding the difference between just daydreaming and setting goals.

A goal without a timeline is just a dream - Robert Herjavec

The SMART Goals principles are well-known principles used to set goals in a business context and can also be used to set personal goals. The criteria help goal-setter fine-tune their goals so that they are not just wish-lists but actionable goals that can be achieved. In my example, simply saying "I want to be a published author" is not a real goal. Saying, instead, that "I want to submit a memoir to a publisher by June 2022" is a smart goal as it has most of the SMART goals criteria in it. Therefore, as we focus on setting goals in the next few days, we will transform our dreams into SMART Goals.


So let's go through what it means to set smart goals:

  • Specific: Saying "I want to build wealth by investing in property" is more specific than saying "I want to be a rich auntie".

  • Measurable: Measuring how much wealth you want to build makes the goal feel more achievable, if not, you won't know when you have reached that goal, or you may feel frustrated about not reaching it if there wasn't a clear target in the first place.

  • Achievable / Actionable: "Set your goals high enough to inspire you, and low enough to encourage you" Unknown. Don't make your goals so unattainable that all the do is frustrate you instead of inspire and motivate you. Additionally, your goals should be something you can act one. Once again saying "I want to be a rich auntie" is not something you can action tomorrow. Its best to describe actions that can get you there to form part of your goals.

  • Realistic: "a realistic goal is one that you can reach given your current mindset, motivation level, timeframe, skills and abilities". Once again, setting an unrealistic goal can be frustrating and demotivating. If your goal is unrealistic, it will make more sense to make a goal of how you can improve your mindset or skills in order to make it more realistic. For example, the only way to qualify as a medical doctor is to go to school for a specific number of years and to pass specific exams. If it's not realistic for you to leave your job and go to medical school, then maybe it's time to let go of that dream. But if it is possible, then setting a goal to qualify as one is a realistic goal.

  • Timely: When I talk about goals being time-bound, I like to share that every single person on earth can run a 42km marathon, if we had all the time in the world to run it. What makes it a challenge is that you are given a cut-off time of 6 hrs to complete it in order to qualify for a medal. This completely disqualifies anyone who can't make it in that time. In the same way "your goals should have a beginning and an end" in order to be achievable. Otherwise, you'll spend all your life trying to achieve them.



Michael Hyatt added three more elements to the SMART goals and called them SMARTER Goals. He replaced the R with Risky because he believes that for plans to be motivational enough to sustain you, they should include getting out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, they are not goals but just a to-do list.


He also added two additional letters:

  • Exciting: If you only have external motivations to achieve your goals, you won't reach them. Ask yourself, Does this goal inspire me? Does it engage my heart? Will I find it fun? Am I willing to work hard to make it happen? Will it lead to a life that I will enjoy?

  • Relevant: "if we're going to succeed, we need goals that align with the legitimate demands and needs of our lives." This is very important and will also help us prioritise our goals accordingly. My goals as a mother look very different from when I was a newly-qualified CA. Right now, I have to consider where to live based on schools, living conditions, and child-friendliness, but as a newly-qualified CA, I had the freedom to choose my working opportunities without any restrictions. Setting irrelevant goals that are out of alignment with our life circumstances can be stressful and frustrating for us.

In conclusion, making a wishlist, or just writing down what our dreams are, is not enough if we truly want to live the life we envision for ourselves. We need to do more - to set goals that provide us with the opportunity to act on them and to give ourselves a specific time to achieve them.


For the next few days I will go through each of the life dimensions I wrote about on Day 1, and will share on how to best share goals in each dimension. If you have any specific questions on any of the life dimensions, feel free to drop a comment below.


Journal Reflections

  • Review the goals you may have set in the past and reflect on whether they met some or all of the SMART(ER) goals criteria.


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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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