Design SMART goals for 2018

Design SMART goals for 2018
December 28
04:00 2017

The only way to eat an elephant is “one bite at a time” – the age old saying is meant to clarify the important role that goal setting plays in whatever you may want to do in life.  Business, personal, short-term, long-term and even lifetime goals can translate a large vision into smaller objectives that provide guidance and clarity required to achieve successful outcomes.

However, it’s equally important your goals are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-Focused and Time-Driven.

This time of year is when countless people engage in the process of goal-setting – often when they set New Year’s resolutions – which some follow all year, but most fail to keep for more than couple a days.  Whether it’s weight loss, pledging to stop smoking or eating more healthy – the majority of people set broad and ineffective goals.

Several people refuse to set goals because they routinely fail to achieve them.  Integrity is a real universal principle that exists whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, so when we fail to keep commitments with ourselves it damages our personal integrity. 

You must always fight to maintain the highest integrity with yourself because it directly correlates to your ability to keep commitments with others – a necessary trait to be successful in life.

There are dozens of reasons why people fail to achieve goals, but the primary driver is a large number of people set unrealistic goals in the beginning.  For example, if you declare you’re going to lose 100 pounds in 30 days or start a multi-million dollar business in six months, then odds are extremely high you’ll be unsuccessful.

My grandmother used to have a favorite phrase that often reminded me to slow down – she would simply say, “You have to crawl before you walk.”

In other words, it’s unlikely you’ll alter eating habits immediately to lose 100 pounds in 30 days.  Or get your products or services to market in such a short time-frame to be an overnight success.  Sustainable and real success is not quickly obtained. It occurs through a deliberate process, peppered with smaller more bite size goals that eventually lead to consuming the elephant.

So as you to look forward into 2018 and consider your largest goals, then ask some internal questions about how those goals fit with your life vision – it’s important when setting goals to always begin with the end in mind.  Clearly understanding where you want to be in select areas of your life will enable you to set more specific goals that purposely guide you to those outcomes.

Here are some key areas where you should deeply brainstorm a strong vision – spiritual, relationships, financial, physical body, professional and community.

A compelling vision gives birth to specific goals; for example, if I have a vision of one day being financially independent, then I may set a goal to save $10,000 in 2018. Now that’s a specific goal that can be effectively measured on Dec. 31 and it’s appropriately time-driven.

Another reason people fail to achieve goals is they may not be achievable based on the current situation of the person setting the goal.  So if you set a goal to save $10,000 in 2018, then you must initially begin with considering your current earning potential and do the math to determine if the goal is truly achievable. 

You may have to lower the bar to a number that is more in reach based on your income, but the more important factor is to at least set a goal. Of course the goal should cause you to stretch, but at a minimum it must be within your grasp.  Incremental stretch goals that eventually lead to significant progress is the only effective way to realize your vision successfully.

I hope you have enjoyed the holiday season and are inspired by the coming of a new year, which also brings forth new opportunities, changes and growth.

Thank you for reading my column in 2017 and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2018 … Happy New Year!

Algenon Cash is the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm, he is also a national spokesperson for the oil and natural gas industry.  Reach him at

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