Knowledge & Understanding (Oh!)

The SMARTEST Way to Set and Achieve Goals – Part 3

by Sherry Buffington, Ph.D.

This is part three of the SMARTEST goal setting formula.  Each of the commonly used variations from the often used SMART goal setting formulas have been incorporated into this more complete formula because they provide a broader definition of each component and can be very useful in helping coaches and their clients succeed. The last three parts, which make up the EST part of SMARTEST, adds three critically important components.  Without these the other five often never get done.

This part covers the second “A” component – Achievable, Acceptable, Agreed Upon, Action-oriented

The components of the SMARTEST formula are:

SSpecific, significant, stretching

MMeasurable, meaningful, motivational

AAchievable, acceptable, agreed upon, action-oriented

RRealistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

TTime-based, timely, tangible, trackable

EExciting, energizing, effortless (Yes, effortless. You will understand why soon.)

SSage, satisfying, sensible, sane

TTrue to your passion, purpose and mission 

The reason for setting achievable goals was discussed in part 1 of this series. In general, it is because the subconscious mind is where all motivation comes from and, if we set goals that are not achievable, it soon associates goal setting with pain and we begin to avoid setting goals. So as you begin setting goals, don’t just make assumptions, test them. Although this goes against most goal setting advice, I have found that it is best to begin by setting goals that you think are too small. The reason for this is that it provides you with a realistic gauge of what you are capable of accomplishing within a particular space of time and it allows you to experience success right away. With the pleasure of a few successes under your belt and a realistic time frame for setting future goals you will be far better prepared to succeed than if you set too large a goal and fail. (See part 1 for a more in-depth explanation.)

The acceptable part of this component includes you and anyone else from whom you will need cooperation to achieve your goals. Acceptable to you means that the goal is yours, not someone else’s. People often fail to accomplish goals that they believe are their own when in fact they are someone else’s goals; A college student’s goal to get through college, for example, because mom and dad want him to. Or the goal to excel in the military because the men in the family have always been military and the family expects the male children to follow in their footsteps.  These are goals, but they are not the individual’s goals. Yet when the goal gets set early enough and reinforced often enough, the child so indoctrinated doesn’t realize that the goal really belongs to someone else. The failure rate is quite high for those pursuing other people’s goals. Even if there is external success, there is often internal conflict.

First and foremost, be sure the goal is acceptable to you. Then check with those whose help you will need to see if they are on board. If they aren’t, you will need to make some adjustments; either in the goal or in the team you are assembling to help you achieve it.

Acceptance of the plan and goal steps leads to agreement.  With acceptance and agreement from your team, you are now ready to put the plan into action. Be sure the action steps are spelled out clearly. If they aren’t your team will experience frequent failures and we all know what the subconscious mind does with that.


Dr. Sherry Buffington is the originator and co-developer of the CORE Multidimensional Awareness Profile (CORE MAP), a powerfully effective coaching tool for establishing an authentic coaching baseline that gets results fast!  It is unrivaled in the coaching industry for helping coaches get exceptional results with their clients.  Learn more at

Sherry is also the developer of the block busting Rapidly Accelerated Mind Patterning process (RAMP) that is revolutionizing coaching results by helping clients remove blocks instantly and permanently.  

CORE MAP and RAMP are two of three tools that make up the Quantum Leap3 Coaching program that is revolutionizing coaching, propelling coaches to the top of the coaching industry, and adding six-figure incomes while allowing coaches to serve more clients better and in less time. The third tool is called Success-GPS which is a tool that provides clarity around actions clients are taking that either lead to success or prevent it. To learn more about the Quantum Leap3 coaching program, go to

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