Knowledge & Understanding (Oh!)

The SMARTEST Way to Set and Achieve Goals – Part 8

by Sherry Buffington, Ph.D.

This is part eight 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 “T” component – True to Your Passion, Purpose and Mission

The components of the SMARTEST formula are:

S – Specific, significant, stretching

M – Measurable, meaningful, motivational

A – Achievable, acceptable, agreed upon, action-oriented

R – Realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented

T – Time-based, timely, tangible, trackable

E – Exciting, energizing, effortless (Yes, effortless. You will understand why soon.)

S – Sage, satisfying, sensible, sane

T – True to your passion, purpose and mission 

Like the
“E” component, the second “T” is critically important to goal success. Until we are following our own passion, fulfilling our own purpose and living our own mission, we are living someone else’s dream, fulfilling someone else’s desires and meeting someone else’s goals. Not only is that not very exciting in the long term, such goals that are not likely to be sustained. Getting bored or disenchanted with a goal is a primary reason why goals are abandoned. When we are pursuing goals for the wrong reasons; to please others, meet the expectations of others, etc. they soon lose their appeal and as soon as they do we begin to view them as difficult. The subconscious mind then translates them as unpleasant or pain inducing and we become resistant to doing them. At that point, unless the perception of the pain we will experience by not accomplishing the goal is greater than the perceived pain of completing it, the goal will be abandoned.

Each time we abandon a goal, we create a negative loop that leads to more failure. Here’s how that loop looks: (1) We set a goal that is not true to who we are and what we really want > (2) The goal loses its appeal > (3) We start to find working at the goal more and more difficult as resistance increases > (4) The resistance becomes so strong and the steps to achieve the goal so unappealing that we stop taking the actions before the goal is reached > (5) Our self image suffers because we think we are lazy, unfocused, a loser (you name it) and we feel guilty and unworthy > (6) The subconscious mind generalizes goal setting to pain and begins avoiding it > (7) Without goals we accomplish less and fail more and steps 4 through 7 keep cycling until we are at the point of despair or depression. At that point some start desperately looking for another alternative and some just give up.    

Though not everyone will admit it, we all want to succeed at something; to achieve more than we have to date. Whether it is to find a new job, start our own business or other wise increase our income, have better, more fulfilling relationships, or improve ourselves, we all want something. Those who have experienced too many failures without knowing why or how to remedy the problem, either claim they don’t want anything else or spend a lot of time talking about what they want to do someday.

It is human nature to want to improve things. In fact, it is the nature of all of life. There is always a reason why some are not doing that. When the reason can be found and understood, it can be removed. Whenever you experience resistance or stress in pursuing a particular course of action, stop and question your reason for pursuing that particular goal and your methods. Go through the seven question process and see what emerges. Stay open to every possibility, including abandoning the goal or project altogether if necessary.

Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is your success. Until you are successful, you cannot accomplish all the things you want to accomplish or help all the people whose lives you want to positively impact along the way. Being very clear about what success looks like for you and building all your other goals around that ultimate goal will help you to stay open and flexible in how you get there.

Following the SMARTEST path will get you there faster. For a goal to be effective in guiding behavior, it must be specific and measurable. It must be achievable and believable. It must be written out so you can track your progress and it must be time based so you know how you are doing. Before you will consistently do any of the first five things, the last three must be present. You must be excited and energized by the goals you set. They must make sense to you and you must believe they are doable (sensible, sane). Ant they must be true to your passion, purpose and mission. If they aren’t they will not lead to your success—to someone’s success perhaps, but not to yours. And remember: the ultimate goal is your success. The greater your clarity with regard to your goals, the more you will get done, the faster you will accomplish it and the more successful you will be. 

Start by making a list of what is important to you and then define every single step you will need to get there. Start with where you want to be ten years from now and work backwards, getting more and more detailed as you get closer to the present moment. By the time you are working on your daily planner you should be very specific. For every minute you spend planning and preparing you can save twenty or more after you begin. Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis, but do have a plan you can follow before you begin. Think on paper and always work from a list. No one has such an infallible memory that they won’t lose their way without a list. Working from a list not only keeps you on track, it gives you a visual record of accomplishment. The very act of writing out a list and referring to it constantly will increase your productivity by more than 25% from the first time you start doing it. This is the area in which you will need to be most disciplined. Once you get past it though, you will love what happens!

You now know the SMARTEST fundamentals of goal setting. Keep the acronym in mind to help you remember these basics and apply them to every important goal. Soon you will discover that goal setting really does work—and it works for YOU.


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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