Next to watching the ball drop at Times Square, enjoying reruns (thanks, COVID!) of the Tournament of Roses Parade, or taking in college bowl games while devouring hot dogs and nachos, perhaps our biggest shared experience as we flip the calendar to 2021 will be setting our New Year’s resolutions.

Each year, people across the globe enter the new year committed to making it (or themselves) better. According to, “An estimated 188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021, a 15.17% increase from the previous year.”

Unfortunately, studies also show that the overwhelming majority of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions each year. Why is this? Is it because we don’t approach our goal wholeheartedly? Perhaps. Or maybe we are destined to fail simply because we aren’t thoughtful enough about the way we established our goals to begin with.  

Have you ever taken a long road trip without directions? If so, chances are you got lost somewhere along the way. The same can be said when it comes to pursuing goals. Without a well-considered roadmap for getting where we want to go, we are likely to be unsuccessful in reaching our desired outcome. According to MindTools, “Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.”

So buckle up … let’s take a short trip together and explore the SMART goals framework.


Originally attributed to George T. Doran in a 1981 article in Management Review, SMART is an acronym for a goal-setting tool which helps create criteria to enhance the likelihood of a successful outcome.

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” – Zig Zigler

The SMART acronym stands for:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound


Think of this step as creating the “mission statement” for your goal. By answering the “what,” “why,” and “who” questions, you will build a clearly-defined framework:

  • What am I hoping to accomplish?
  • Why is my goal important?
  • Who else needs to be involved in the process in order to succeed?



The best way to show progress towards your goal is to include some way of measuring it. Not only will this keep you on track, it will also serve as a motivator to keep going — whether positive (YAY! I’m getting there!) or negative (I’m behind — I’d better get moving!).


While it’s good to push yourself to a higher level through your goals, make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure. Aspiring to play in the NBA is great, but it’s probably not achievable if you’re full grown and 5 feet tall. Take into consideration how realistic the goal is, given any potential constraints.


The chances of you achieving your goal are higher when you are striving for something that is important and meaningful to you. It’s also valuable to consider how relevant it is in the broader context — that is, does it align well with other goals you have?

Time Bound

Having a target date is a must when constructing a SMART goal. It helps keep you on track and motivated. Don’t skip this important step. Otherwise, your goal will turn into nothing more than a perpetual “to do” list.


Type “examples of SMART goals” in your browser, and Google will offer up 285,000,000 links to choose from. Clearly, there’s no shortage of places to look. But just in case you don’t want to do a lot of clicking around, we would encourage you to check out one particular source — Teen SMART Goals. This blog article provides a variety of SMART goal examples for your teenage children:

  • Academics
  • Sports
  • Music and Arts
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Saving Money

Have you had any successes developing SMART goals? Have your kids? If so, we’d love to hear about it — please leave us a note below.