Setting an Achievable Goal - Achieve Goals the SMART Way


"Alice went on. Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
That depends a great deal on where you want to get to, said the Cat.
I don’t much care where – said Alice.
Then it really doesn’t matter which way you go, said the Cat."

(Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

How to Achieve Goals the SMART Way

As the Cheshire cat observed, without deciding where you want to go, choosing the way to get there is not important. Like Alice, you need to determine your destination before deciding on the way to get there. This is the main function of a goal.

You must first start with the end in mind - your vision,
what you have decided that you will HAVE.

Defining what you will HAVE is vital to your success – your ultimate purpose.

After defining your ultimate purpose you need to decide what you will DO to achieve that – and this is where planning is critical. If you begin without deciding the END you have in MIND, where do you think you will end up?

Your success depends on knowing where you are going – if you choose the path of Alice – the likelihood of surviving is getting slimmer and slimmer every day – and that is just surviving with no consideration of succeeding!

Setting your goals tells your unconscious mind what to look for – then it can help you achieve it. Whatever you are focused on you will see/hear/feel/smell/taste – using your 5 senses - to the exclusion of all else.

Power of Focus

In fact what you focus on is what fills your mind. This means that if you are focused on what you do not want or what you are not getting, there is not much room for anything else to be processed in your conscious mind!

So focus on WHAT YOU DO WANT!

Now we know from extensive cognitive research that humans are limited in what they can pay attention to and process and this information comes in through our 5 senses:

  • Visual - See
  • Auditory - Hear
  • Kinesthetic – Feel (touch)
  • Olfactory - Smell
  • Gustatory - Taste

However there is so much that comes through, that we need to sort out what we need to focus on and what we don’t – we need to DELETE what is not important right now, DISTORT or change anything we are unsure of, and/or GENERALISE the information to fit with what we already know.

It works sort of like a torch in a dark room - it is impossible for you to see everything in the room at the same time. You can only see where you shine your torch.

What are you shining your torch on?

Some people choose to focus on what they DON’T want – whilst others choose to focus on what they DO want! Some people focus on what they CAN’T do whilst others focus on what they CAN do; some people focus on how HARD learning is, whilst others focus on how EASY it is getting now.

You Get What You Focus On, So Focus on What You Want!

There are a number of techniques to ensure your UNCONSCIOUS mind accepts your goal.

Firstly the goal which you have prepared should be very specific - crystal clear; you should know what you will see, hear, feel, smell and/or taste when you achieve the goal.

You should have some emotional attachment to achieving the goal – ideally you are passionate about it and your unconscious mind has some investment in you achieving the goal.

This process brings both conscious and unconscious minds into alignment – which is where the real magic can happen!

Let's take an example

Say, I want to complete a – 10km fun run ….

What will I see when I have it? I’m seeing the finish line, cheering faces, the winners prize.

What will I hear? I’m hearing my breathing, the crowds cheering me on, applause, cameras clicking, my feet running over the timing mat, the announcer on the PA system.

What will I feel externally? I’m feel the pats on the back, I’m feeling the sweat running down my chest, my feet pounding on the timing mat.

What will I smell? I’m smelling the energy drink I’m given as I cross the finish line, the perfume of people hugging me.

What will I taste? I’m tasting the mineral salts in the energy drink I’ve been given, salty sweat as I lick my lips, lipstick from congratulatory kisses!

What will I feel internally? I feel proud, elated! I feel tired and I have an immense feeling of achievement, empowered, proud.

What am I telling myself? Go me!! I did it!! Woohoo!! Awesome!! When’s the next one? (or … I’m never doing this again!)

With the End in Mind it is now time to DO what needs to be done to HAVE the success you have decided to have. This is how to achieve Goals the SMART way.


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Joanne Clark

Joanne Clark is an Internationally accredited Master Trainer of NLP who has been delivering NLP training since 2011.  Being on her feet in front of training rooms is where Jo loves to be and her passion for inclusive and immersive training that delivers outstanding learning outcomes is apparent to everyone in her training rooms.  On average Jo delivers 140 days of training per year in addition to online webinars, guest speaker events and group coaching. 

“NLP is at the core of all my training and coaching, it is at the core of who I am, how I interact and connect with people.  I am absolutely passionate about spreading the NLP tools across the planet as I endeavour to support Robert Dilts’s vision of Creating a world to which people want to belong.” Joanne Clark

Certified Master Trainer of NLP; Master Practitioner NLP, Hypnotherapy & Matrix Therapies; Performance Coach; Cert IV Coaching; Advanced Practitioner in Coaching; Cert IV in Business; BA(Hons); Majors in Sociology and Psychology; Parent Education Leadership Training (PELT) Certificate; Mother of four children; Private Pilot (PPL); Diploma in Life Coaching