“If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” — Stephen R. Covey

Goal setting is an important method of deciding what you want to achieve in your life, separating what’s important from what’s irrelevant or distracting, motivating yourself, and building your self-confidence based on successful achievement of goals. Goal setting gives you long-term vision
and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge and helps you to organize your time and resources so that you can make the absolute most of your life.

It is imperative to understand that the right goals will take you to the right destination, and the wrong goals will take you to the wrong destination. Many people work hard for their whole life only to find they don’t seem to get anywhere worthwhile. They haven’t set the right goals.

The question is: How to set the right goals?

You might have heard of SMART goals. In this chapter, I am going to take the concept a little further. We will discuss the process of creating SMARTEST goals, which means setting the right goal as well as following the right steps to achieve your goals faster.

“There is no substitute for getting smarter, faster. And the way you get smarter is to screw around vigorously. Try stuff, see what works. See what fails miserable. Learn, Rinse, Repeat.”  —Tom Peters

SMARTEST goals are defined as follows


Your goals must be specific and significant. They should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Goals that are specific are easy to visualize. If you can visualize, you can make a plan. If you can make a plan, you can move forward.

Specify exactly what needs to be done, ideally including some kind of number, percentage, average, or range.

Vague goals do not provide mental focus. Specific goals will stimulate more intense and persistent effort to meet the goal.

The more specific the goal, the more explicitly performance is regulated. When you clearly define your goal, you give your mind something to look for and you give your full attention to it. When you set the goal internally, your mind will try to find it externally.

Specific details show how you, your customers, and your company are going to benefit from the achievement of this goal. Specific goals are productive goals, because they give a clear sense of direction, eliminating ambiguity. A subjective goal such as “Do your best” is not specific, and
is therefore less efficient.


“The more specific and measurable your goal, the more quickly you will be able to identify, locate, create, and implement the use of the necessary resources for its achievement.” –  Charles J Givens

Your goals must be measurable and meaningful.

You can only keep track of progress towards your goal if it is measurable. Measurable goals are manageable goals.

Measuring your progress will help you to manage your focus, stay on track, keep momentum and reorganize your plan.

Measurement is also necessary to make judgments as to whether you are moving in the right direction to reach your goal or not.

Performance can be improved only when goals are measurable. Measured goals give a sense of fulfillment when progress is monitored. They also help determine whether the timeframe for reaching a goal is realistic, or requires changes.

The goal “I will become valuable in the department” can’t be measured. With a specific goal, however, such as “I will complete <task>,” or “I will learn <skill>,” you will know without a doubt when you have achieved it. The goal is real and measurable.

Measuring your progress will help you to manage your focus, stay on track, keep momentum and to reorganize plan.


Your goals must be aggressive yet achievable.

Roger Bannister set himself a goal: to be the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. And in 1954, he ran a mile in under four minutes.

“Doctors and scientist said that breaking the four-minute mile was impossible, that one would die in the attempt.”

Your goals must be achievable. Be honest with yourself about what you can reasonably accomplish at this point in your life, taking into consideration your current responsibilities.

But your goals must also be aggressive. Aggressive goals provide the stretch. Don’t set yourself an easy goal. Set your sights higher, which will inspire you. Don’t forget, however, that if you set a goal that is impossible to achieve, you will end up feeling discouraged.


Your goals must be relevant and support your values.

It is easy to set a goal, but to continue to work on it requires determination, persistence, and support. If the goal is not relevant, you will get discouraged on the way, and you will struggle to find support from friends, colleagues, and organizations.

Ask yourself, “Do I need to accomplish this goal?” If the answer is “Yes,” then ask yourself, “Why does this goal matter to me or to my company?”

It is important that yours goals remain relevant to you until you have completed them. For this to happen, they should align with your core values. Your values influence how you make decisions. Values can be instilled in you, or you can choose to adopt them. And your values can change. The important thing to know is that strong, positive values are integral to achieving your goals.


Your goals must be time-bound.

You can achieve any goal if you have infinite time. But none of us have that luxury. You must achieve your goal within a finite period.

“We can achieve any goal easily, if we lived forever.”

Every goal needs a timeframe. The timeframe will keep you focused on important tasks related to your goal, and set the challenge to complete it in a timely fashion.

You can’t set the goal “I will complete this project” without a deadline. You must specify when it will be over. The statement “I will complete the project by 25 November 2018” or “I will complete the installation of Hotfix in 10 hours” is a proper goal, as it has an end date. Associate a
timeframe with each goal, by which the goal should be completed.

Add the phrase “by Month, date, year, hour” to every goal you set.

Goals can be short-term, medium-term or long-term. Time is critical while executing some projects. A project that is successfully completed on time brings profit to the company. It also establishes a good reputation and instils trust and confidence in the customer.

“There are no unrealistic goals; there are unrealistic deadlines.”


Your goals must be exciting and emotionally attached.

An emotionally-driven goal is bound to succeed, as it will keep you focused and encourage you to work towards it faster. Do you feel excited and inspired when you think about and work on your goals? If not, reconsider whether it is the right goal for you. Goals should be close to your
heart and backed by positive feeling and emotions.

The feeling is the barometer by which to check the validity of your goals. The feeling disappears when the purpose no longer exists. And if the feeling dies, the goal will die too. It can be helpful to visualize the feeling you will get when your goal is achieved (more on this later). This builds
the emotional and mental energy that is essential for success.


Your goals must have a strategy. A plan to reach the goal.

If you don’t have a strategy, you are bound to fail. A goal without a strategy is just a wish. Strategy consists of the small action steps as well as the significant action steps that you will take to reach your desired destination. Significant action steps might be something like “Invest money in [scheme],” “Hire a coach,” “Join a course to gain required knowledge,” “Buy some equipment,” “Practice on the system,” “Network with a group,” “Travel [somewhere],” “Read [book],” etc. Small action steps might be “Call [someone],” “Buy [book],” “Enquire about [course],” “Create an account on [networking site],” “Join [club],” “Set an appointment with a financial advisor,” “Register for [conference],” etc.

The smaller the action steps, the easier it will be to monitor your progress. Identify priorities and remove distractions, and you will be able to leap faster towards your targets.


Your goals must be transferred to the subconscious mind to succeed.

“Your automatic creative mechanism is teleological. That is, it operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a definite goal to achieve, you can depend upon its automatic guidance system to take you to that goal much better than “you” ever could by conscious thought. “You” supply the goal by thinking in terms of end results. Your automatic mechanism them supplies the means whereby.”– Maxwell Malta, author of Psycho-Cybernetics.

You have two minds: a conscious mind, and a subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is an incredible source of energy. It stores everything: every incident in your life, every book you’ve read, every person you’ve come across, everything you’ve seen. Most of your activities are performed, directed, and controlled by the subconscious mind, without the knowledge of the conscious mind. Habits, for example, are the product of the subconscious mind.

When you transfer your goal to your subconscious mind, the subconscious mind will start working on your goals, finding resources and contacts, coming up with ideas, and developing new thoughts to achieve your goal. It will work silently day and night, even when you are busy, even when you are sleeping.

So how can you transfer your goals to your subconscious mind? There are some powerful tools available such as Positive affirmation, creative visualization and visibility.


By creating SMARTEST goals – specific, measurable, aggressive yet achievable, relevant, time-bound, exciting, guided by strategy, and transferred to the subconscious mind – you open yourself up to a world of opportunity. With a SMARTEST goal in mind, your dreams can become a reality. All you need is commitment, a positive attitude, and the right habits.