If you set a goal and never reach it, then it might not be SMART. That is, it might lack the characteristics that make achievement more likely. According to "Make Success Measurable! A Mindbook-Workbook for Setting Goals and Taking Action," a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound is SMART. By defining a goal with this method, a clear path for success is identified.
Be specific. A clear, concise statement is effective. Include enough detail so the goal-setter knows exactly what outcome is expected. For example, rather than "expanding sales territory," state what areas are targeted.
Set measurable goals. Ideally, a quantitative measurement is included in the goal statement. This requirement is your mechanism to track goal attainment and should be developed when you set the goal. For example, identify the number of sales that you want to target in a new region.
Make sure the goal is achievable and attainable. It should take some work to reach the goal, but your goal should not be so difficult that you, the goal-setter, become frustrated and give up on the goal. Including intermittent steps that mark your movement toward your goal is essential to keeping you on track and your spirits up.
Keep the goal relevant to your current situation. Consider other goals, responsibilities and overall strategies currently at play in your life that may effect or conflict with your new goal. For example, if the company is rolling out new products, it may be too difficult to start an M.B.A. program at night, as you'll likely be working a lot of overtime and traveling more than usual.
Establish a timeline for achieving the goal. Attaching a deadline for completion will motivate action and give you an additional level of accountability. If you're a procrastinator, you may want to share your goal and your timeline for achieving it with a spouse or coworker who will hold you accountable for steadily working within the bounds your goal timeline.
Revisit your goal timeline as you complete steps toward achieving your goal; this allows you to see progress and adjust it if circumstances have changed.