Goals give us direction, but it can be challenging to keep them realistic. There are strategies you can use to stay on track. Use the following criteria to develop SMART goals that are realistic and doable.


SMART is an acronym that describes a process of setting realistic and achievable goals:

  • Specific - Don't set vague goals. "I will lose weight" is unclear, but "I will lose ten pounds in two months." is specific.

  • Measurable - Establish metrics that make sense to you and by which you can measure your goals. Using the same example of weight loss, the metrics are pounds and months: "I will lose ten pounds in two months."

  • Achievable - Setting a goal that requires perfection, such as getting 100% on every test you take in a school year, is not attainable.

  • Realistic - The objective of your goals should be something you are both willing and able to achieve. Shaving a minute off of your mile run time is a realistic goal that you can achieve, but a goal of running a mile in 30 seconds is unrealistic.

  • Time-bound- Set a timeframe for your goal, and don't underestimate how long it will take to meet it. You can't lose 50 pounds in one month.

Compassionate Goalmaking

People tend to blame themselves for not achieving their goals. Instead of being critical of yourself, be critical of the goals you set -- they may not be practical. Reexamine your goal and ask if it's a SMART goal: "Is this specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound?"

 If a goal isn't working for you, then reevaluate and change it if necessary.