“People with goals succeed because they know where they’re going!”

So what exactly is a smart goal for?  Why is setting smart goals important?   I shall share with you in this blog what I gained from setting smart goals.

First let me ask you a few questions to get your mind working, so put your thinking cap on and let’s begin……..

  1. When was the last time you set yourself a goal and did it work for you?  If not, why did setting that goal not work for you?
  2. Were you curious as to why setting your goal didn’t work?
  3. Or did you just give up because you thought setting goals doesn’t work?
  4. If you are like most people, why have you become stagnant?

I have been interacting with a huge number of people in the past four years and six months my life as I am a talkative person who loves to mingle and there is one thing that strikes me as unbelievable and that is…….the majority of those people, like myself at one point in my life, were living day to day with no sense of direction as to where they were heading. They would tell you with much clarity as to what they do not want. Yet, ask them what they do want and they become stuck! The amount of time, energy and focus they gave to all the things that they didn’t want was dragging them down, draining them, exhausting them and it was addictive.

Did you know that “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline?” by Harvey MacKay

I first heard about setting goals in my late thirty’s. Yes, you read that right, my late thirty’s!  No one taught me about the importance of setting goals in my childhood nor did I hear about it until my late thirty’s. Or maybe I did hear about setting goals yet I never took it in at the time. You see, my mum received very little education due to her set up, she was abandoned by her parents and never met them. She was adopted and treated like a slave, which meant that she worked in harsh conditions from a tender age. My dad had primary school education and came from a very dysfunctional family. Dad was absent from my life from aged one until aged eight so my early years was spent with mum being my sole carer. Both my parents worked very hard for survival and I never heard them fulfilling their dreams, goals or ambitions from setting goals. Their main goal in life was to provide for their children so they worked as hard as they possibly could to provide the basic needs for their children and that was their responsibility fulfilled.

As a young child we are asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up”?  So we would think of all the things we could do when we grow up yet how many of those things actually become a reality in our life when we do grow up?  How many of your friends, family or colleagues that you know have fulfilled their childhood dreams? A handful, a few or none?  I know the answer to that question all too well!……….  Sadly!

I was never asked what I wanted to be when I grew up because I became the care taker in my family from the age of nine so nobody took care of my needs, wants or desires. I was merely existing for my family, taking care of their needs and thus neglecting my own. I had no emotional support from my parents and I felt unloved, damaged, diminished and destroyed from being in a very dysfunctional family. I had a dream of becoming an “air hostess” when I was in second year of high school and we needed to choose the subjects that we wanted to study in our third year. I wanted to fly to different countries to experience the different cultures and fulfill my dream of flying. Yet the qualifications required to get into being an air hostess had already put me off from fulfilling my dream. I was falling behind at high school due to my language barrier as I came to live in Scotland from Hong Kong at the age of eight so I was still trying to catch up with my English which was holding me back from my academic achievements. My parents were unable to help me to make any progress because they have very poor English skills so I relied on my own hard work. They never encouraged me to excel at school because in my culture back then, girls are not given the best education possible as it was not the done thing. Girls get married, have children and they take on their husband’s family to take care of so an education is never thought of as a necessary requirement for girls. That was what I was given as a girl so I had no goals, dreams or ambitions to pursue from my teenage years.

That changed when I finally, after fourteen years of staying in a toxic marriage, decided that enough was enough and divorced my ex husband.  He was a compulsive gambler ( he controlled our finances)  who dragged me and our finances down, drained me of my happiness and I had become very sick from being in such a toxic marriage. So my goal was to free myself of such unhappy, unfulfilled and toxic marriage even though it meant I would be putting myself through financial hardship.  I found my freedom to be who I was born to be and I wanted to fulfill my dreams, goals and ambitions from my separation and finally divorce which was my biggest achievement in life.  I was introduced to personal development in August 2011 after my cousin Denny told me about a business opportunity that I signed up for. I was unsuccessful with the business opportunity, yet from that I learned to take charge of my life, take responsibility for where I was heading and began working hard on myself with setting some goals that I wanted to achieve.

It was a tremendous struggle at the very beginning to achieve my goals as I was clueless as to where to begin and my emotions were like being on a roller coaster from the changes in my life. yet, day by day, with persistence and my determination to reach my goals, I invested time, effort and money into my future. I was beginning to focus on what I wanted from life for the very first time and I felt happy from within. I was making slow progress from my daily time of personal development. I became mentally stronger from my invested time in achieving my physical goals. I felt I could take on the world from running outdoors to train for my Women’s 10k goal I had set and I felt so much lighter from letting go of my past that had paralysed me up until then. As my mental power became stronger, I could feel that I was becoming a new person, a person whom I was loving each day yet it came with it the negative side of it. I had never lived my life as an achiever after I finished my formal education, so working hard to fulfill my goals was all very new to me and I felt overwhelmed by it all. It felt like I was taking one step forward and two steps back due to my new life of adventuring into the unknown which felt scary and daunting!  I was on a roller coaster ride with my emotions of highs and lows and having not yet learned anything about emotional intelligence, I was feeling a huge sense of disorientation whenever I made any progress with my goals.

Yet, I had the support of the people in the business opportunity to help me through this difficult transition and I was grateful for their support. Day by day, I put my valuable time to work hard on new skills and gained so much knowledge whilst I gained new experiences from reaching for my goals. With my new experiences each day came more knowledge and the more I put myself out there to experience new things in life, the more confident I had become. I was building a steady momentum which helped to lift me up as I started my day.  The initial two years of my journey with personal development was the most challenging time to success I had ever experienced because I had never achieved any goals I had set for myself until then.

I learned that so many people like myself, who came from dysfunctional families are so damaged and broken from their childhood,  that they never step out of their comfort zone to work on achieving their goals. They stay stagnant because their comfort zone is comfortable with no mental stress or tension to deal with.  Most of them had mental health issues like myself to deal with and it was holding them back from reaching for their goals because of the stigma attached to mental illnesses. They believe in their inner voice that they are never good enough to deserve the best so they just stay in their comfort zone and constantly listen and believe to their inner voice telling them that they are never good enough to deserve the best from life. They allow their inner voice to control their lives until they die which is so sad. These people are merely living day by day just working for earning a wage to pay their bills and they never make any progress with their lives. What a poor quality of life to live for!

Here’s a few more questions for you to ponder:

  1. Why would you live your life without knowing where you are heading?
  2. Why would you get into a car, bus, train, subway, boat or plane without knowing where you are heading?
  3. Why would you apply for a job without knowing what you want to work as or the skills required for the job?
  4. Why would you step into your car, start the engine and drive without knowing where you are heading?

The answers to the above questions is very simple to me. It is due to the fact that there is a lack of clarity as to what we want as we allow our past to hold us back. The lack of clarity mainly comes from when we were growing up and was told “no”. The more nos we got from our parents, care givers, teachers and peers, the more we believed in them. “No, you will never succeed with that! No, that shall never work for you! No, you are not going there! No, why would you want to do that, nobody does that!  No, you will never make it”!

So is it any wonder why our childhood dreams are never fulfilled? Is it any wonder why we never go for what we really wanted as a child when we become adults? Our childhood dreams are killed with all the negativity and put downs that we received from our childhood as it sets us up for a life of just doing what all the others are doing and never step out of our:

  1. social norm
  2. cultural expectations
  3. gender expectations
  4. stereotypical expectations
  5. traditions
  6. peer pressure
  7. need to be accepted
  8. approval from others
  9. fear (of rejection, of not being good enough, of success)
  10. distorted thinking that we do not deserve success
  11. fear of being left behind if we are successful
  12. comfort zone

Those who do set goals and achieve them are in the minority because they dare to be different from the crowd as they make progress from their successes. These are the people you really want to surround yourself with and learn from. Are you aware that we become the first five people we spend most of our time with?  So, do take the time to analyse who the first five people in your life are and what you learn from them. What are you picking up from them? Where do they have you heading and what do they have you learning?  What do they have you watching, listening and reading?  Evaluate the value that you get from your friends and what you pick up from them, as this shall determine who and what you become. We learn from our friends just like we learn from our parents because we are influenced by them, both positively and negatively.

So here’s what a smart goal is:

  • S – Specific, exactly what you want to achieve
  • M – measurable, how can you measure your progress to achieve your goal
  • A – attainable, can this goal be actually accomplished
  • R – realistic, do you have the resources, abilities and capabilities to achieve your goal
  • T – time bound, how much time will you allow yourself to achieve your goal

There are some variations on the explanation and meaning of what a smart goal is yet they all have similar meanings and I find they all work when we work with it!

When I set a goal to complete my next Women’s 10k in an hour and fifteen minutes in 2011 and I had nine months to achieve my goal, I did not put a time bound goal to it. I just wanted that goal to get motivated yet it was not enough to help me reach it. Then in 2013, I was more motivated and wiser as to how I would achieve this long awaited goal. In order to get a better result, I knew I needed to do something different so I joined a running group, I increased my nutrition intake after training ( and was more disciplined)  to help me recover faster from my intense training and I was much more focused on my end result. I started tracking my progress with pen and paper after reading The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. On Sunday 12th May 2013, I completed what was to be my last Women’s 10k in an hour and thirteen minutes. That was the only Women’s 1ok that I had taken part in where I ran non-stop. I had always stopped to get my breath back in previous ones thus slowing my finishing time and I did this last one with a friend who had never ran the Women’s 10k before and she was faster than me so I was more motivated to run faster!  That finishing time was my biggest physical achievement to date because the Women’s 10k is the toughest 10k that I had ever participated in. I felt so proud of such a huge physical achievement because I had really pushed my body to it’s limits when I was running with my running group. I celebrated my success with the friend whom I ran my last Women’s 10k with and we were both ever so proud of each other!

As I learned so much from my experiences with achieving my physical goals, I realised that in order to get a different result to achieve any goal, we need to do something different. If we always do what we always did, we will always get what we always got!  So this is why the majority of people are stagnant in life and they never make any progress as they are constantly doing the same thing day in, day out. They work in the same job, see the same people, go on the same holidays,  eat the same food,  drive the same make and model of car, they watch the same television programmes, live in the same house and same estate, they shop at the same shops, stores and shopping centres etc etc.  They stay in their comfort zone for sense of security and safety. Staying in our comfort zone is the most boring place to be in because we never learn anything new and we never grow!

Making progress is what gives us a great sense of satisfaction and thus we feel happy from within. Achieving goals is the key to feeling happy from within, without buying materialistic things to fill our void in life. Making progress equals to happiness. Those people who make progress in life and achieve their goals are the ones who never need to fill any voids in their life with money,  by buying things they do not need only to keep up with the others who are doing the exact same as them. It saves them money to pay for more experiences and they are never controlled by their possessions. The more we buy to keep up with others, the more we are controlled by possessions. This is a very poor attitude to living our lives as we are living an extremely low quality of life. Low quality of life equals to more sadness, emptiness and voids. We then need to constantly feed that need to buy more possessions and this can get us into debt as we are keeping up with the latest gadget, latest fashion trend or whatever tickles our fancy that has been brought out into the market. My ex husband was living such a life only to impress people with the money he didn’t have because he was using his numerous credit cards to pay for his purchases. He had a new phone every year, he bought new clothes that he didn’t need, he would be buying the latest gadget out on the market after hearing others talk about it, yet he made no progress with his life! Hence why he needed to fuel his neediness to purchase materialistic things in order to feel happy.

I stopped hitting the sales on Boxing Day ( which is a trend in Scotland) a few years ago, after I started working hard on myself and achieving my goals. I was putting my energy, focus, time and attention on achievements instead of what I could buy for happiness. I then realised that buying things I did not need only lasted a very short space of time then when the happiness wore off, I was itching to purchase something else I had set my eyes on. I did a “spend shift” where I used the money I had previously would use for purchases that I did not need onto travelling, books, personal development materials and training courses, seminars and getting to meet new people who had a vision of where they were heading with their lives. I slowly realised that my friends had very little clarity on what they wanted from life as they were so focused on what they didn’t want and I allowed them to affect me in the past. After reading Jim Rohn’s book Twelve Pillars,  I knew that these friends would eventually become distant because I was outgrowing them,  as I was making progress with my life from having clarity as to what I wanted from life .

So, if like me, you are stuck in a rut, learn to set smart goals and then get moving to achieve them for personal growth and progress. As Jim Rohn said:

  1. Nothing of great value in this life comes easily
  2. Poor people have big Televisions, rich people have big libraries”
  3. “The major value in life is not what you get. The major value in life is what you become”
  4. “When you know what you want and you want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it”
  5. “Formal education will make you a living, self education will make you a fortune”
  6. “Work hard on your job and you will make a living. Work hard on yourself and you will make a fortune”
  7. The best money you can spend is money invested in your self education. Don’t short change yourself when it comes to investing in your own better future”


Here is a list of books that I have read to help me achieve my smart goals and I highly recommend them all to you for your journey to making progress:

  1. The Key to Living the Law of Attraction by Jack Canfield
  2. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  3. Twelve Pillars by Jim Rohn
  4. Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn
  5. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers
  6. Dealing with People you Can’t Stand by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner
  7. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey
  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  9. The 15 minute Rule by Caroline Buchanan
  10. Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic
  11. Set Yourself Free by Shirley Smith
  12. Assertiveness by Conrad and Suzanne Potts ( Or any book on assertiveness)
  13. Secrets of the NLP Masters by Judy Bartkowiak ( Or any book on NLP)
  14. Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
  15. Brilliant Emotional Intelligence by Gill Hasson ( Or any book on emotional assertiveness)

Get a library started, it will change your life! Start developing a library. Start acting intelligent!  Some People read so little they have rickets of the mind!  All by Jim Rohn