Defining SMART goals

planning ahead

“If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.”

Henry A. Kissinger

One of my most life changing experiences was when I was taught to define the goals for my life. Until that day I have always been dreaming of becoming a great artist, creating animations and videogames that will entertain generations to come. I learned that dreams are a good motivator, they keep you inspired and going but you will never reach your dreams. Or you shouldn’t be able to reach them. It is just as Micheangelo said:

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

…and thus rest on our success, not realizing our full potential but being satisfied with the easy route. I am a dreamer and with a wild imagination needed to create art, I lose myself in daydreams a lot. Dreams are what I chase and goals are the footsteps in which I follow my dreams.

In the end, the goals I started to set for myself brought me closer to my dream. Achieving everyone of them strengthened my confidence, my self- awareness and my productivity.

Don’t be afraid to fail

Goals are important but many people are afraid of them. They believe not setting themselves goals will save them from the terrible experience of failure. They think they can escape the shame to admit that they overestimated themselves and disappointed the expectations of others. After all, to blame the circumstances or another person is way easier if you haven’t made yourself responsible for achieving something.

To help you define goals and design your big dream in a more realistic way, I want to tell you how to…

Define SMART goals



If you define a goal in a specific rather than a general way, achieving it becomes more likely. If you think about your goal and try to narrow it down, you throw away many possible distractions and obstacles become clearer. It also helps you to explain your goals to others and maybe get the help you need.


Measurable goals are way easier to monitor. If you come up with measurable goals you will be able to adjust and take necessary steps to get back on track. You will also gain a lot of motivation from seeing your progress and having the feeling of achievement once you have reached your goal.


To define a goal to be attainable won’t change the goal much bit it forces you to reflect. Do you have the attitude, the skills or the money to achieve the goal? Important to realize is that you can achieve any goal but the steps towards it have to be well measured and the more experience you gain, the better you will get at evaluating your capacities and realizing new opportunities.


However, attainability will lead to a realistic setting of your goal. Even though you want to be on the safe side, sometimes it is not good to aim low and be modest. Only if you shoot for a higher goal you may activate the motivational power that makes you realize the goal. If you aim for a lower goal, you are tempted to slack off and not taking it seriously and you will finally fail to reach it. Always ask yourself: am I capable of achieving this goal and am I willing to achieve it?


Your boss will love you if you are able to define goals in a timely matter and fulfill deadlines. With no timeframe constraining your goal, there will be no urgency. Pursuing a goal starts in your mind; if you say want to achieve something until a specific date your body will already start working on the problem. And neuro- scientists have just discovered that you are less likely to stop doing something once you have started. It is also worth mentioning that if you give your goal a deadline you must truly believe that it is possible to accomplish it.

Some more SMART tips:

The SMART way of defining goals has helped me a lot but even I am still prone to procrastination and the fear of failing. To further improve your productivity and achieve your goals read Covey’s Time Management Matrix.

And for additional tips on defining goals I suggest to take a look at How to Set Goals in the They say clever stuff like “Start small, but keep walking” that we also heard a lot from Dr. Spear in our Business Application Course.

I hope some of you are going to set goals for yourselves now that you know how. I am curious what you can achieve- maybe you will even change the world or at least small part of it!

Let me give you an example of my goal, to also show you that you don’t have to be embarrassed about your dreams and goals:

My naive “I want to become a great artist.” changed to:

“I have to graduate from the HWR in International Business Management in 2016 with above average grades, spend my year abroad in Japan, learning the Japanese language so I can apply for a position in my favorite game developing company: Namco Bandai and help create games as Art Director.”