A SMART Start to 2020

Here’s to 2020! We did it, we made it through another year. As we head into the new year, it’s not a bad idea to start thinking about some things we might like to accomplish in the months to come. Setting goals for ourselves can provide us with something to look forward to and give us some motivation to get the year started off on the right foot. However, did you know that 92% of people that set a New Year’s Resolution goal never actually achieve It? (Diamond, 2013). If we are going to set goals for ourselves, we want to make sure they are goals we might actually reach! Otherwise, they can be seen as more of a stressor than a motivator. Let me tell you about a little something us counselors like to call “SMART Goals.” A SMART goal is a type of goal that we encourage our clients to make so that they are more likely to achieve it. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Now that’s not to say you shouldn’t be setting your standards where you want them or be dreaming of doing extraordinary things, but in order to reach those extraordinary dreams, we have to start small. With every “micro-victory” we make or SMART goal we achieve, we bring ourselves one step closer to making that extraordinary dream become an extraordinary reality. So, how do we make our goals SMART? Let’s walk through the process together.

A. Specific

The more specific we are when creating our goals, the better we understand what exactly it is we are trying to accomplish and the more likely we are to accomplish it. A specific goal should try to answer the five ‘W’ questions:

1. Who is involved?
2. What do I want to accomplish?
3. Where am I going to achieve this goal?
4. When do I want to achieve this goal by?
5. Why do I want to achieve this goal?

So instead of saying “I want to get in shape,” you might say, “I want to prep my meals on Sundays and go to the gym 3 times a week so that I can lose 10 pounds by June and feel better about myself.”

B. Measurable

Making your goals measurable is important to help keep you motivated and on track. How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Will you be able to run a mile without stopping or will you have a zero balance on that credit card you were aiming to pay off? Try to have some way to measure the progress you are making on your goals along the way.

C. Attainable

In order to be successful in reaching your goals, they have to be achievable and realistic. It’s easy to say I want to be accepted into medical school this year, but if you have not yet attended college, then your medical school application is likely to be tossed aside. If medical school is the end goal, then great! But you first need to set and achieve the “in-between” goals before reaching the end goal. To make sure you are setting an attainable goal, you can ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is this goal realistic and within reach?
2. Do I have the resources to achieve this goal?
3. Am I willing and able to commit to achieve this goal?

If your answers are all yes, then I’d say you are well on your way to success!

D. Relevant

A relevant goal is one that aligns with your other goals and plans. For example, if you are trying to start a family, is your goal one that would make this more challenging? To decide if your goal is relevant, make sure you are looking at the whole picture. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is this goal meaningful?
2. Is this the right time in my life to try and reach this goal?
3. Does this goal align with my overall plan and goals?

E. Timely

When you make your goals time-bound, you are giving yourself something to focus on and a deadline to work toward. It can be easy to fall into the “I’ll start tomorrow” trap when we don’t have any constraints on when we want to achieve the goal. When setting your goals, make sure to ask yourself:

1. When do I want to achieve this by?
2. Are there other milestones I want to achieve along the way?

The idea of setting goals can be scary and overwhelming— but it definitely does not have to be. Sometimes we just need a little tweak to our thought processes and a little bit of guidance to make it easier for ourselves. If you have a desire but are struggling to create your own SMART goals, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando mental health counselors.


Diamond, D. (2013, January 2). Just 8% of People Achieve Their New Year’s Resolutions.
Here’s How They Do It. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#1b9a489d596b.


LECS Counselor