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The new year season is a time of reflection, goal setting for the new year to come, and the desire to self improve. Maybe you’re interested in getting started but unsure how to go about it. When preparing,  it‘s important to have a well-planned map for your goals. Select realistic goals that are referred to in the coaching industry as “SMART” goals.

S.M.A.R.T.  is an acronym that stands for the following:

Specific: Ask yourself about the details such as what, when, how and why. Are people to help me with the process? Are there alternatives? Be specific with this idea, and do your best to avoid vague goals. The more specific you can be, the better chances you have of achieving it. Write down your goal.

Measureable: How will progress and success be measured? Set milestones.

Attainable: Have you set realistic expectations based on your other obligations?

Relevant: What is the objective behind the goal? Do you really need this?

Timely: Create deadlines with accountability and stay the course. Be sure to share your goals with someone you know who can help hold you accountable.

Setting goals using this technique allows you to better achieve your objective and estimate attainability. According to a Forbes study, “those who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals.”

S.M.A.R.T. Goals in Business

In a business setting, goals that are created in a S.M.A.R.T. way is a highly effective method for not only actually achieving what the organization is seeking to accomplish, but also to allow transparency. Chart an outline for projects, identify specific intermediary goals, and use the S.M.A.R.T. checklist as a team to evaluate if objectives are attainable. Make sure that everyone is also on the same page.

It should be said though that even if they benefit others, ultimately your goals should be set for you. Personal improvement can only happen when changes are made. Recognize what needs improving, make sure the goal is smart, write it down, accept small setbacks, and stay the course.


Sharon Schweitzer and A.Hannah Alvarado co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, attorney, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide (Wiley 2015), now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Continuing her higher education at Texas State University, A.Hannah is set receive her Bachelor’s Degree in English, in 2019. She is a native Texan with a background in writing, sales, social media marketing and customer service. Hannah aspires to perfect her passion and craft of writing and hopes to one day become a novelist. With all the fantastic opportunities offered at Access to Culture, she is excited to be a new member of the team. Connect with her at Hannah Alvarado.