Setting SMART goals is a method that can be used to visualize and work toward achieving some type of change or improvement. Visualizing and committing to goals using SMART goal setting, can give people a level of accountability and feeling of responsibility for making the changes they feel are necessary for a happier, more fulfilling life. SMART goals are typically used in the workplace for completing projects or other tasks, but SMART goal setting can also be used in your life outside of work for achieving personal goals or dreams.

So what makes a goal a SMART goal? SMART is the acronym to help you remember the five attributes of what a goal should contain. When you write your SMART goal it should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based.

Specific - The SMART goal that you want to achieve should be as specific and clearly defined as possible. It should be written to answer all of the appropriate 5 'W' questions - who, what, where, when and why. In other words, who is completing or involved in the goal, what you are trying to accomplish, where it will be done, when it will be complete and why you are doing it. With a specific SMART goal, you want to know exactly what you are trying to achieve so you can know exactly what steps are needed to achieve it.

For example - a regular goal might be 'Get in shape', but a SMART goal would be 'I will get in shape by going to the gym and working out at least twice a week until the end of the year'.

Measurable - A SMART goal should have some number or aspect associated with it that makes it measurable. This way you will be able to track your progress and know exactly when your goal has been achieved. With a measurable SMART goal, you will be able to, break down a large goal and celebrate milestone achievements towards your progress that will keep you motivated and on the right track. If you can answer questions like 'how much?' or 'how many?', then you have a measurable SMART goal.

For example - a regular goal might be 'Make more residual income', but a SMART goal would be 'I will consistently make an average of $5 a day in residual income by the end of the year'.

Attainable - Any SMART goal you set should be written in a way that you can or are at least likely to achieve it. SMART goals should be written to stretch your abilities and make you work for them; but if a goal is too general or overly ambitious, then you might lose hope of achieving it early and just quit. In the SMART goal, include the ways you can make the end result attainable so you know what to do, how to do it and that you can do it.

For example - a regular goal might be 'Lose 30 pounds', but a SMART goal would be 'I will run daily, stop drinking soda and replace my afternoon snack with a piece of fruit to lose 30 pounds by the end of the year'.

Realistic - A SMART goal should be written so that it is something you can realistically achieve given your current situation. Again, the goal should stretch your abilities and be something to work towards, but if it is completely unrealistic and you don't really believe that you can achieve it you are setting yourself up for failure. Ask yourself if you have the time, experience or resources to achieve the goal; or how you can get them in order to accomplish what you want.

For example - a regular goal might be 'Become a millionaire by age 30' (when you're 29, broke and have a low paying job), but a SMART goal would be 'Build two streams of residual income and implement a savings and investing plan by the end of the year'.

Time-based - A SMART goal needs to have a clearly defined time limit or end point. Giving your goal a time limit gives you a sense of urgency and a way to gauge where you are at for each stage of the goal. Make sure the SMART goal has enough time to realistically achieve the goal, but not too much time or it will lose urgency and keep getting put off.

For example - a regular goal might be 'Pay off credit cards', but a SMART goal would be 'Devise a payment plan to pay off credit cards in two years'.

Now that you know how to write SMART goals, give it a try! You will be amazed at how much easier it is to achieve your goals when they are clearly defined and include details to guide you along the way.