By Colleen Kettenhofen

“Set a specific goal and take action. Goals are nothing without action.”

Colleen Kettenhofen

Does the new beginning represented by a New Year get you dreaming of how you can achieve more in the coming 12 months?

Whether you want to increase sales, grow your business, take a long-deserved vacation, or lose weight, you can make greater success possible. How? By setting SMART goals. Each one of these five SMART goal techniques leads to taking action on your goals, because, ultimately, goals mean nothing without action.

Now, if you’ve heard these techniques before, chances are you didn’t put them into practice. But, when you apply them diligently, I guarantee they will work for you. It’s been true for me. Since I’ve used them to commit to my dreams of being an author and speaker, I’ve enjoyed a career that gets better every year.

SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time specific. Be sure to practice these techniques faithfully and consistently to reach your goals.

  1. Specific: Write down your specific smart goals. Then, write down an affirmation for each of your goals on an index card. The affirmation is the secret ingredient. Make sure it starts with the words “I am” to keep it personal, positive, and in the present. Next, add a feeling word such as “happily,” or “easily,” or “peacefully.” Next, add a verb or action phrase such as “enjoying my new promotion as a director,” or “losing weight by walking thirty minutes five days a week.” Finally, state a specific month and year for when you’d like to have attained that goal.
  2. Measurable: One of my affirmations for a specific goal in 1995 was this: “I am easily conducting speaking engagements all over the world, including in Hawaii, by March 1996.” Write down a specific date. As a matter of fact, be as specific and measurable as possible including things like a job title promotion, specific sales goal, or amount of money you’d like to be earning.
  3. Attainable/Action-oriented: One the back of the index card, I spent several minutes each morning writing down action steps for how I would achieve this goal. I then visualized myself taking action and reaching it. Olympic athletes do this because they know it gets results!
  4. Realistic: My goal of doing business in Hawaii might seem unattainable yet having “interviewed” dozens of business speakers who gave presentations at conferences in Hawaii, I knew this was realistic, and have since achieved it. I set the same goal for speaking in Alaska, which is – now a favorite place for me to work. I say this not to brag, but to let you know that, if you practice these techniques, they can work for you, too. Yes, I had to overcome my skeptical thoughts, but experience has taught me how well it works.
  5. Time specific: In 1995, I gave myself nine months to parlay my experience as a manager and award-winning salesperson into sharpening my knowledge as a leadership expert. From there, I could achieve the goal of becoming a professional speaker. It included developing a brand and marketing materials to attract the clients who could use my expertise. This initial hard work in the first nine months set my dreams in motion and led to my success today.

Be sure to review your goals and affirmations – during that first hour of the morning and the last hour before bedtime – when your subconscious is most amenable to suggestion. And add another secret ingredient – visualize how it feels to already have achieved those goals.

Keep your written SMART goals in your wallet and post them on your bathroom mirror as well as other places you can easily see them. After a while, your mind automatically comes up with action steps for how to achieve them.

Most important, don’t wait another day. Dream about your future now and set SMART goals to make that dream real within the next 12 months!


Colleen Kettenhofen is an international workplace employee and management expert, corporate speaker, and career turnaround specialist. She has recently interviewed more than 200 managers and CEOs for her new book, Secrets Your Boss Isn’t Telling You. A media expert, she has appeared on numerous radio shows and has written more than 40 popular articles on diverse workplace issues. She has published 10 audio programs and two books, available on her website To have Colleen assist with successful goal-setting in your organization through her keynotes, seminars, and workshops, call (971) 212-0479 in Portland, OR.