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Are you S.M.A.R.T.?

Having goals is not the same as achieving them


We all know theoretically that goal setting is important in helping you get where you want to go. However, how we actually go about it and what it actually does for us can vary tremendously. Many people often experience the vicious cycle of setting a goal, then struggling to achieve it then feeling defeated for not having achieved it. How often have you set the goal of losing weight only to find your weight completely unmoved months later? How many of you have ever set New Year’s resolutions that have never come to fruition? This is all too common.

Also as an adult with purely self-diagnosed borderline AHDH tendencies, I get so easily distracted all the time. Multiple obligations, emails & messages, social media and all the other stimulants around me constantly tackle me off track. Simply having a goal doesn't do the trick for me.


Unmet goals are defeating and demotivating. They can leave you feeling like goal setting is pointless. Why keep trying if I haven't been able to do it in the past? You become timid and hesitant to have any ambition because you’re afraid you may be setting yourself up for failure.

However, aspirations must be part of your recipe if you want to grow and expand. Passive attitudes toward goal setting are toxic, especially when you experience life circumstances that require expansion, like taking on a new role and responsibilities at work, entering a new relationship, or becoming a parent.


S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, Tim-bound.
Corporations have been talking about effectively setting goals for some time now, but the same principle can be applied to personal management.

Commit to achieving, not to goal-setting

The ultimate premise behind goal setting is that the goals are achieved. They must be carried out in action and become reality. This is the first and foremost mindset you commit to when you set goals. You commit to achieving, not to goal setting. So we shouldn’t set goals to just to have them. We should set goals so that they can be achieved.

This sounds like a pretty obvious and straightforward idea, but commitment to achievement is actually pretty hard for many of us. This is only natural. Achievement comes with hard work, strategy, burden and responsibility. And if you’re like me, you probably have many goals you said you would achieve, but then somehow you fizzle out in the end. It's because simply saying that you would do something, a.k.a. setting a goal, doesn't always translate to committing to whatever it takes to achieve it. So you gotta ask yourself if you're committed to achieving.


Then, let’s talk about how you set goals. Often, it’s not the goals themselves that are problematic. The truth is that our goals are sometimes structured in ways that don’t foster achievement.  

For example, one of my goals is that I want to “be creative”. OK. So how do I be creative? What does it mean to be creative? Do I dance? Do I develop an app?  Do I become an artist? I’m creative in some ways, but I’m not in some other ways. Where do I begin? What’s the RIGHT way of being creative? How long is it gonna take to be really creative? How will I know if I’m actually creative?  So on and so forth. My mind starts generating all sorts of questions, thoughts, and ideas, which gets me absolutely nowhere. Sounds familiar?


Simply to ‘be creative’ is way too broad to be linked to any concrete actions. Don’t get me wrong. The goal of becoming creative can still serve you as a general direction - a meta goal, or a vision, so to speak. But for you to drive action, you need to be more specific.

So instead of 'be creative', you can 'learn how to draw' to be more specific. Or you can 'learn how to draw comic strips,' which is even more specific.

Specific goals drive action.


An effective goal can serve as a milestone that's trackable like so.

  • Attend the drawing class for 3 months

  • Finish a strip of four boxes.

  • Create 3 cartoon characters

  • Write a short story. (yes or no)

Measurable goals define what success means to you and where you are in your progress. Consider restructuring your goals or finding a different way of measuring them if your goals are unmeasurable.


You know exactly how a goal will be achieved when it is actionable. By making your goal actionable, you are basically planning the execution and securing the necessary resources. With my borderline ADHD tendencies, making my goals actionable is absolutely a must.

So, to 'enroll in a drawing class,' I need to tackle some subgoals first like

  • Search the internet for drawing classes.

  • Make calls and ask about rates & special promotions.

  • Talk to XYZ and learn about their experiences.

  • Take a trial course.

  • Clear my calendar to make time for it.


This is useful when you're under pressure to pursue multiple goals simultaneously, which happens to us constantly. In this circumstance, instead of automatically opting to take on as many goals as you can possibly handle, you want to ask yourself, 'which goal should I focus on to bring about the biggest impact?' 'What is the vision I'm trying to honor?' 'Is this the goal that will bring about the results I want?'

If your vision is to become artistically creative, enrolling in a drawing class, attending an art exhibition, or trying something new would all be relevant. Mastering MS Excel, Getting a data-entry job, and training to desensitize yourself may include some creativity, but it's probably safe to say it's less effective and relevant to the vision of becoming artistically creative. Important goals are not always relevant to the big picture you're trying to create.

Relevant goals help you prioritize your time and energy.


You want to get in the habit of always thinking about the deadline to keep yourself on track. Otherwise, the attempt could linger on and potentially fizzle out.

  • Search the internet for drawing classes - by Thursday

  • Make calls and ask about rates & special promotions - next Monday during lunch

  • Talk to Jason and learn about his experience. - Friday evening

  • Take a trial course - next week

  • Clear my calendar for it - weekend


Effective goal setting isn’t just for corporations. If you want to grow, you must set goals that match your ambitions and ensure you set yourself up for success. Once you develop the habit, S.M.A.R.T goal setting will get you moving with clarity, priority and confidence in your personal and professional lives.


Do you want to check if your goals are S.M.A.R.T.?



Joon is a Productivity and Leadership Coach based in Korea. Through her private coaching program for women leaders Redesign Productivity, she shares her deep passion for helping women leaders redesign productivity so that they can prioritize their time and energy meaningfully to drive fulfillment and abundance in life and at work.

She is one of the first Korean-English bilinguals in Korea to be certified in Leadership Circle Profile™, the industry-leading 360° leadership assessment tool for cultivating creative leadership.

In addition to developing women, she partners with EZRA Coaching , Leadership Circle, and Coachdot as an executive coach and develops corporate leaders from diverse industries across APAC, addressing a variety of corporate management and leadership challenges.

She's certified by ICF, Co-Active Training Institute & Leadership Circle. She coaches & facilitates in English and Korean on Zoom across time zones and is open to coffee chat with anyone who wants to share synergy.

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