Formulating results-based goals

Kasey Lawless

Marketing Coordinator at Atomi


min read

In this blog, we’ll be exploring the SMART goals method and how it can help you set results-based goals that are all about converting ambitions into results

An ambition like, ‘I want to get better at Spanish’ can be converted into a useful set of goals by thinking about the results we want. So, how might we turn this ambition into a results-based goal?

Maybe you’re learning Spanish at school. In this case, you might hope to ‘get 85 out of 100 in the end of year exam’. You might also have more than one desired result for your ambitions. For instance, you might also hope to ‘read the Spanish version of the second Harry Potter book, over the next 8 weeks.’

How do you know if the goals you’ve set are any good? 

Your goals will always be personal, and depend on how much time you have available and your own circumstances and current ability levels. Nonetheless, you should always aim to outline results that are Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Relevant and Time-Bound

Let's dive in!                 


Firstly, specific results are those that refer to one desired outcome. A result like ‘finish reading the Spanish edition of Harry Potter’ is more specific than just ‘read more Spanish novels’. By making specific goals, you will have more guidance in focusing your efforts.  


You should also aim for results that are measurable. Things you can measure include how many pages of a book you’ve read, or what percentage you achieve on a test.Ideally, you also want to measure results based on a milestone. So, you can conclusively say when you have achieved your goal. You’ll also benefit from the satisfaction of knowing exactly when you have hit a particular goal!


Next up, ambitious goals. You should also think about the level of difficulty of your desired results. It’s actually good to be fairly ambitious with your desired results. Studies have shown that there is a positive relationship between the level of difficulty of a goal and the performance someone is able to achieve (up until a certain point that is!)Everyone’s ability will max out somewhere. So, you should be ambitious, but not unrealistic, a good rule of thumb is the 20% rule.

Let’s say you want to read the second Harry Potter book in Spanish. Perhaps you read the first Harry Potter in Spanish, and it took you 10 weeks. A comfortable goal might be to read the second Harry Potter in 9 weeks. A challenging goal would be to read it in 8 weeks - that’s 20% less time than 10 weeks. 7 weeks will probably be unrealistic though, so aim for that sweet spot, where you feel challenged, but not totally out of your depth.

The 20% rule doesn’t work in all cases. If your end-of-year exam is only four weeks away, it might be unrealistic to improve by 20%. The key is to not just aim for satisfaction but for the sense of accomplishment that you get from hitting ambitious goals.


Next, we want to aim for relevant results. This might sound straightforward, but it is sometimes easy to get side-tracked pursuing irrelevant results. For example, we might be dreaming about going on holiday to Spain, because we think it will give us a good chance to practice our Spanish. So, we might be tempted to set a result like ‘save up enough money to go on holiday to Spain.’ But saving up money won’t actually help us get better at Spanish! 


Finally, you need to add a time frame to your goals. In the goals mentioned, you have a time frame of ‘the end of the school year’ and ‘8 weeks from now’. In some cases, our time frames will be externally determined. For instance, you can’t change the date of your school exams. However, when you can choose a time frame, you should consider how ambitious they are. Giving yourself a bit of time pressure can help make your goals more ambitious and can help you to keep you motivated because you know when you are going to meet your goals, and you’ll get that feeling of satisfaction sooner.But, just like with ambition, there is a sweet spot. Don’t put yourself under so much time pressure that you end up burning out! Think about all the other goals and time commitments that you are trying to achieve at the same time. That’s one of the reasons why it can be good to plan out all our different goals all at once. 

And that’s how to use the SMART goals method, now you’re ready to get out there and turn your ambitions into results! Good luck.


Published on

May 3, 2024

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