How to work smarter not harder using SMART goals?

How to work smarter not harder using SMART goals?

Do you have short term or long term goals in life, but you always find it difficult to achieve them? It’s okay for us to fall short of our goals sometimes because we all fail from time to time and this journey helps us to grow and move towards our aims. But if you find yourself not reaching or giving up on your goals constantly, it’s probably due to setting goals that are vague, overambitious or unplanned. Hence, you should find a new way to set your objectives.

The phrase ‘work smarter not harder’ sets the tone here. No matter the task or environment you are working in, there is one simple fix we can all use to be more productive: setting goals. But not just any goals – SMART goals with strategic targets that are clear, attainable and backed by a plan for accomplishing them. These SMART goals help you to plan and focus on what is important, which will motivate you to achieve what you want in life effectively.

The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. Each element of the SMART strategy works together to create a goal that is carefully planned, clear and trackable for reaching any objective.


Have you ever heard people saying “I want to earn more this year” or “I want to be more successful”? People tend to say that they want to achieve something, but these goals are too vague with no real target, just some obscure direction. When the goal is obscure, it allows the psychology of your mind to override your goals. You might say things like, “I can earn more next year” or “I gained a new client and that’s good enough”. You succumb to things like emotion-numbing activities, to easily avoid doing something that wasn’t that concrete in the first place.

Thus, you should be very exact instead to target how much you want to earn or how you want to improve specifically. For example, set specific goals like “I want to make RM150,000 or RM500,000 per year”, “I want to increase my business profits by 20%” or “I want to earn a leader position managing a team in a new company”.

You need to be as clear as possible when it comes to goals you want to achieve, so you can easily track your progress from time to time. Never be afraid to be too specific. When your goal is specific, you can understand better on the steps necessary to achieve it which allows you to visualize the outcome better and most importantly, you will know without a doubt when you’ve achieved it.


For you to achieve your goal, it has to be measurable. If it can’t be measured, then you won’t know for sure if the goal has been met or not. A tip is to attach dates, percentages, amount to your goals, so they can become measurable, and makes it easier for you to track your progress. For example, instead of “I want to start jogging habit”, your measurable goal might be “I want to jog from once a week to 3 days a week by end of this year”. This allows you to see your growth and development.

In other words, it’s time for you to set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), to make it clear to yourself whether you have improved or moved further away from your goal. Either way, this strategy will show you your progress, which can motivate you to match up to your goal or try again to be on track to succeed.


Setting goals which push you to achieve your best can lead to very positive results. On the other hand, setting unrealistic goals can have a negative impact on your emotions and behaviour. If you set a goal that you know is outrageous – say you’re currently earning RM30,000 and want to earn RM1 million next year – you’re most likely going to come up short of your goal. When you create a goal that’s too lofty, it can seem impossible, and you may eventually give up. This will bring you down mentally and emotionally due to the disappointment, and will affect your motivation when you set your next goal.

Hence, setting achievable goal is crucial to keep the momentum going. This essentially means that you set a goal which requires you to challenge yourself by going the extra mile or getting out of your comfort zone, but you still believe that there’s a high chance you can accomplish it. There’s a saying that goes, “It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”


Every January, many of us find ourselves scribbling new year resolutions in our journals or making mental notes of what we’ll achieve the following year – lose 10kg, read 12 books, go on a healthy diet and the list goes on. Yet, not many of us actually achieve them, right? This is often due to many factors such as insufficient willpower, unattainable goals because they require the energy, skills, or resources that we don’t have; ultimately these goals are irrelevant. While setbacks can push you to change for the better, but if your goal is not relevant, you will find it difficult to get back on track.

So, you should never be too bold when it comes to setting goals, instead you should make them relevant. You need to be willing and able to strive towards the goal by improving your current habits. Ask yourself this, “What do you need to do to reach your goals?” to ensure that your goal is something you are willing to invest the time and energy.


The final principle in the SMART goals is setting a clear time frame to help you accomplish your goal. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time and an exact date on when you plan to achieve your goal. For example, “I want to achieve 20 sales target in 3 months’ time”. When your goals are time-bound, they’re measurable, and you can hold yourself accountable by measuring those goals on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

If you don’t reach your goal within the time frame, then it’s time to reassess: Was your goal achievable and realistic? Was your time frame too short? Or did you just not give it your all? When you employ the SMART goals acronym to map out what you want, there’s nothing wrong with resetting your goals as long as you have clarity on why you didn’t meet them.

Using the SMART goal framework sets boundaries and defines the steps you’ll need to take, resources necessary to get there and milestones that indicate progress along the way. With SMART goals, you’re more likely to achieve your goal efficiently and effectively.


1 Comment

  1. Brian April 13th 2023. 2:46 pm Reply

    The point of view of your article has taught me a lot, thank you.

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