Setting SMART Goals

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you to organize your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your personal and professional life. But how can we set effective goals? Let’s take a page out of Elon Musk’s book who routinely sets SMART goals.

Let’s begin with the framework:


  • Write down your goal with as much detail as possible:  who, what, where, why and how?


  • Define quantifiable targets to track your progress and results


  • Is this realistic and possible to do?


  • Is it relevant to your overall objectives and aligned with your broader aspirations?


  • Define a timeline or deadline

To use this tool, you simply plug in the details of your goal under each pillar of the SMART goal framework.  Before you embark on a journey of fulfillment, reading the examples to come will help ensure you’re on the right path to success.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, is always using this goal setting technique to push innovation to heights that are unimaginable for the average professional.

Ever wonder what a SMART goal might look like for someone aiming to create a self-sustaining colony of humans on Mars?  Wonder no further:

  • Specific: Create a self-sustaining colony of humans on Mars using SpaceX technology for interplanetary transport
  • Measurable: Successful test launches, habitat construction, and initial human presence on Mars by specific milestone dates and on budget
  • Achievable: Believed to be possible with ongoing advancements in technology
  • Relevant: This is one of Elon’s dreams and SpaceX’s mission
  • Time-based: Set target dates for beginning habitat construction, transporting humans, etc.

Establishing a colony on Mars is a HUGE task and will consume significant time and resources.  Therefore, it is important to note that sometimes multiple SMART goals need to be created for different phases or specific aspects of the greater, long-term goal (sustainable life on Mars).  When you break down your goal into smaller, actionable steps, it is easier to progress to a visible finish line.

Here is an example of breaking down this major aspiration into an easier SMART goal:

  • S: Begin constructing a habitat for sustained life on Mars
  • M: Construction materials and engineers/architects are present on Mars, work has begun
  • A: With advancements in technology, yes
  • R: Part of Musk’s long-term vision
  • T: Workers arrive to Mars on a certain date and work begins on a certain date

Now, you may be thinking that you can’t relate to this example at all (unless you are also planning to execute a colonization of Mars).  This is most likely true.  Making humanity a multi-planetary species is the complete opposite of a simple task – don’t be discouraged by one of the richest men on the planet.

 This technique can be applied to absolutely ANY goal you have.

Here is what a SMART goal would look like for someone who wants to stay hydrated:

  • S: Drink 2 liters of water everyday (approx. 8 glasses)
  • M: Use a refillable bottle and track the number of times it is filled up to ensure you have consumed 8 glasses
  • A: With conscious effort and a consistent routine, yes
  • R: Staying hydrated is key for overall health and well-being
  • T: Drink 8 glasses daily from the time you wake up to when you go to sleep

Setting SMART goals doesn’t require the brain of a genius like Elon Musk.  You don’t need to be the next superhero to make it happen.  So, whether your goal is to establish a colony on Mars or simply stay hydrated, using the SMART goal framework will keep you on track.  Hey, maybe one day you’ll be the most hydrated human on Mars!