Smart Goals 101: If You Don’t Believe It, You Won’t Achieve It

If you’re just starting with us, this is part 4 of a 6 part series on Smart Goals. Click here for parts one, two, and three.

The rule of Attainability says that if you don’t really believe you can reach you goal, you never will. It doesn’t say that goals have to be easy, just that they can’t feel impossible for you.

In college I had a goal of having six-pack abs (is there a guy out there who hasn’t had this goal at some point in his life?). I fully believe it is physically possible for me to have a 6-pack, even now. That said, I had to come to grips with the fact that I don’t have enough time or personal discipline to achieve that goal.

I’m too busy with things that are far more important than my own vanity, and I just don’t have the committment needed to reach that goal. Unfortunately for my alter-ego, I had to move “6-Pack” from the goals list back to the “wishes and desires” list.

The Four Criteria of Attainability

1. Is this goal realistic? In 2008, while we had somewhere around $90,000 in debt at that time, I set a goal to be debt-free by September 2009. It was really a prayer more than a goal. At night, Beth & I would pray and ask God to help us be debt free by that date. This wasn’t wrong as a prayer. But as a goal, with our income at the time it was very unattainable.

2. Is this goal believable? I had a friend in high school who decided that he wanted to be an olympic diver. The only problem was that he was already older than most of the people competing in the olympics, he had zero training or experience, and we lived in small-town Missouri with no resources (maybe the “olympic” size pool at the local YMCA?). I feel kind-of bad now because I basically laughed at him when he told me. But…to be fair, was this dream believable?

I want to play pro-football with Tim Tebow, but if I set that as a goal do you think I would really believe that it was going to happen? If you don’t buy-in to your own goal, if you don’t firmly believe that it is possible (not easy, but possible), then your goal does not qualify as being attainable.

3. Is this goal within your control? “Fall In Love” was listed as #9 on the Top Ten New Years Resolutions list for 2012. Can you make someone fall in love with you? I guess it is within your control to fall in love with someone, but can you force the other person to reciprocate it? No way. So does “fall in love” qualify as a Smart Goal? Yeah…not so much.

4. Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? Resources can mean time, money, energy, and discipline. As stated above, my goal of paying off $90,000 in debt in less than a year was not a Smart Goal, because outside of a miracle I did not have the resources to achieve it.

Your Personal Goals Coach

If you have a goal that your working through and want some feedback on how to turn it into a Smart Goal, leave us a comment below (we respond to every comment)! We love helping YOU make the most out of your life, so don’t be shy! And remember, if it’s not a Smart goal it’s not a goal!

Committed to your success,



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