(Excerpted from Only Read the Fine Print the book)

Recording your goals in writing is the first step to achieving them. However, thinking carefully about how you state your goals will dramatically increase your odds of success. If you want to accomplish all of your goals, you must be absolutely clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Imagine that someone else had to determine whether you had achieved a goal; what information would they need in order to decide?

One way to ensure successful goal setting is to set SMART goals – goals that are:

Specific – Be crystal clear about what you are trying to achieve.
Measurable – Define an objective way to measure your goal.
Achievable – Ensure that your goals are within your control.
Realistic – Goals must be possible for you to achieve.
Time–Bound – Put a deadline on achieving your goals.

These five concepts will help you establish clear, precise goals that you can accomplish every day. This will keep you motivated and increase your odds of achieving your goals for the following days, weeks, months, and years.


As an example, take the common daily goal: “I want to exercise”. Let's apply each of the SMART concepts to this goal.

Attribute Action
Specific Change “Exercise” to “Run on treadmill”
Measurable Add “for 30 minutes”
Achievable Do you own a treadmill, or belong to a gym?
Realistic Are physically capable of exercising for 30 minutes?
Time-Bound Add “before work” to ensure you don’t skip exercising because you are too tired after work

After making these changes, the SMART version of the goal would be: “Run on the treadmill for 30 minutes before work.” Can you feel the difference?

Images used in some versions of this post are courtesy of renjith krishnan at