man looking at smart goals data

Here we go again. Another year has passed, and as we begin 2021, we find ourselves thinking about our goals and what we want to achieve for the coming year. This year will be different; we tell ourselves; we vow that we will “really get things done.” This article will discuss goals and how to create a SMART Goals Worksheet so we can achieve our goals in 2021.

A Word About Covid-19


In 2020, we all experienced a life-changing virus that disrupted our lives in an unprecedented way. Of course, it put a kink into many of our goals.

As we set goals in 2021, it looks like we can expect to be dealing with this horrible virus for a good part of the year. I don’t think anyone knows when life will go back to normal.

We want to acknowledge the pain, loss, and suffering the virus has brought into our lives and how it legitimately affects many of our goals.

Rather than losing our motivation to plan and set goals, we want to focus on what we can control and what we can achieve going forward.


Common Reasons That we Don’t Achieve Our Goals


When we call something a goal, it is often a challenge for us to accomplish.

In making a new goal-setting plan for 2021, it is critical to analyze our past efforts to determine what happened that may have stalled progress towards goal achievement.

If we don’t learn and understand what did not work in the past, we will undoubtedly follow the same course and have the same results going forward. We will learn how a SMART Goals Worksheet can help us. 

The Top 4 Reasons That People do Not Achieve Their Goals


Getting from where we are in our lives to where we want to be is rarely without challenges. While each of us has individual goals, and our challenges are unique, we can often categorize them.

The following are the 4 top reasons people usually do not achieve their goals.

Lack of Clarity

We need to be crystal clear when it comes to what we want to accomplish. For example, if we say, “I will exercise regularly next year,” the statement lacks clarity.

A clear goal related to exercise might look something like this:

I will exercise regularly in 2021 for the entire year. I will exercise because I know that it will make me feel better, lose weight, lower my blood pressure, give me more energy to play with my kids, and help me live longer.

Starting on January 1, 2021, I will exercise every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Unless I am truly sick, I will exercise from 6 am to 6:30 am each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. I will stretch from 6 am to 6:10 am. I will run on my treadmill from 6:10 am to 6:30 am.

Lack of commitment

When we wrote the clarity statement above, our motivation was high, and we had every intention of following our plan. The next step is to be prepared to have our commitment to the goal challenged.

Our goals may be challenged by other people who have plans for our time, or there will be days when we are tired mentally or physically and don’t feel like exercising.

To help keep our commitment, we want to remind ourselves of our goals and establish an accountability system.

We begin by putting our clarity statement into writing. As we plan to exercise each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, we want to read or even write out the clarity statement before bed each night and first thing in the morning when we wake up.

When we wake up, we will be in comfort mode in our warm bed, and it will take some time to establish the habit of being motivated to get up and exercise.

To help motivate ourselves to keep our commitments, we may want to consider having some music that inspires us queued up and ready to go.

This way, when we wake up, rather than embracing the comfort of our bed or thinking about the challenges of the day to come, we immediately play our motivational music to inspire us to get out of bed and exercise.

By keeping a chart or exercise log, we can track our progress each day, reaffirming our commitment and strengthening our habits.

Lack of importance

We may not have achieved a goal because it wasn’t that important to us in reality and did not deserve our time.

Sometimes an idea will pop into our heads, and we quickly decide it will be a goal. As our time is limited, creating too many goals can be detrimental.

We want to slow down and ensure that we allocate time only towards those crucial goals worth pursuing.

To understand the importance of our time, we review what has become known as the 80/20 rule.

Created by Vilfredo Pareto, the Pareto Principle states that 80% of our outcomes come from 20% of the causes.

Translating this to our goals, we must be cautious with how we manage our time. We want to carefully choose our goals and therefore carefully choose how we spend our time pursuing those goals.

We Often Get Distracted From Achieving Our Goal


Life has become so busy with so many opportunities for distraction, such as our home telephones, cell phones, computers, tablets, social media, etc.

For our goal-setting program to be successful, we need to stay focused on what is essential. To create a SMART goals worksheet, we begin with learning a little more about SMART goals. 


How to Create SMART Goals






Graphic of SMART Goals

To achieve more of our goals, we want to move our goals out of our heads to paper using a Smart Goals Worksheet.

George T. Doran first used the SMART acronym in November 1981 in Spokane, Washington

Doran was a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company.

He published a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”.

Doran’s original definition tied in five criteria:

• Specific: targets a specific area of improvement.

• Measurable: quantify, or suggest, an indicator of progress.

• Assignable: specifies who will take action.

• Realistic: state what we can realistically achieve given available resources.

• Time-related: determine when we can achieve the result.


Examples of SMART Goals & How a Coach Helped Establish Them


Jill had two goals last year she did not accomplish, and she would like to achieve them this year. When questioned by her Coach as to what her goals were, she stated that she wanted to exercise more and read more.

The first step was to learn from Jill why she chose these goals and why they are important to her for the coming year.

Understanding why a goal is necessary is a common practice in Coaching because sometimes we call something a goal that is not that important to us, and we, therefore, do not end up allocating time to it. Jill Stated:

That she wants to exercise more because she wants to lose weight and knows it is good for her heart. She has some fears for her future health as there is heart disease in her family.

That she wants to read more because she feels it is a waste of her time to watch so much television and believes if she can learn more about marketing, it will be a step towards starting her own business.

Jill’s Coach agreed that her goals were important enough for her to pursue through the Coaching conversation.

In Coaching, we often ask a person on a scale of 1 to 10 how important the goal is. How the person answers can say a lot.

Then, digging into the consequences of not achieving the goal can reveal their intellectual connection to the goal and their emotional connection.

The changing of habits is often Most driven by our emotions.

Turning Goals Into SMART Goals

With her exercise goal, Jill worked with her Coach to convert her general exercise goal into a SMART goal.

Jill wrote, starting on January 1, 2021, I will exercise every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unless I am truly sick, I will exercise from 6 am to 6:30 am each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.

I will stretch from 6 am to 6:10 am. I will run on my treadmill from 6:10 am to 6:30 am.  At the end of each exercise session, I will write on my calendar “Exercised” and put a big checkmark next to it.

Jill created a SMART goal related to her desire to read more

Starting on January 1, 2021, I will select the first book that I want to read. Every Monday through Friday, I will read at least five pages from the book during my lunch break.

I will have my notebook ready and write notes related to anything that I read that I want to remember and use in the future. I will write on my calendar Read” and put a big checkmark next to it.

Jill’s Coach helped her understand how a SMART Goals Worksheet and tracking her progress on her calendar were critical steps not to be missed.

It is how she will be accountable to herself, remember her commitments, and celebrate her success.

Considerations when setting SMART Goals


When creating your goals, keep in mind that everyone has areas of their life where things are going well and those with more significant challenges.

There is often a tendency to procrastinate on goals related to challenge areas for many people, even if they are most important.

A good practice is to keep all our goals in mind is to categorize our goals, such as; career, family, friends, relationship, finances, fun, health, etc.

Once we have our categories established, we may want to focus on our top 3 goals in each category.

Creating a SMART Goals Worksheet


The most effective way to create a SMART Goals Worksheet is by first creating a template. A template is a written, pre-formatted document that acts as a starting point.

Think of it this way. If we wake up each morning and ask ourselves what we should do today, our mind runs through a list of items, and we may decide what to do based on how we feel in the moment rather than taking actions towards achieving that which we know is good for us, though not easy.

When we create a template, we put thought into it once, and then we can modify the template. The template is more efficient than writing goals on a piece of paper or a journal as it is easier to begin where we left off and then make changes.