How to Set Achievable Ambitious Goals

How to Set Achievable Ambitious Goals

Our ancestors were asked to go to war, but today, most of us are asked to remain home. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, if you’re not working in the trenches, you’re likely at home in self-quarantine. Rather than focusing on the negative, you can use this time for self-growth; set achievable ambitious goals. 

Are you looking to build your career or change your habits? Setting objectives and outlining a clear roadmap can help you apply your time and resources in the most effective way to make significant progress. Goals push you forward, provide a constant reminder of what you want to achieve, and give you motivational energy to carry on even when motivation is low. We’ve outlined how to set achievable ambitious goals the SMART way. 

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius 551-479 B.C.


The Acronym SMART has been used since 1981 to help people outline clear, specific, and achievable goals. The acronym gives you a roadmap to follow to help you reach your destination. People who write down their goals and make sure they are reasonable and actionable are 50% more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t. 

S = Specific

What are you looking to achieve? You’ll need to be as clear and as specific as possible. Rather than saying, “I want to be a leader,” you’ll want to write, “I will achieve a position as the Director of Nursing.” The more specific you can be with your goal, the more you’ll be able to understand the precise steps you need to take to get there. 

M= Measurable 

Setting measurable milestones will help guide you in the right direction. When you understand the steps you need to take, you can outline each specific milestone to help you reach the finish line. Such milestones in our example above include needing to obtain a few years’ experience as an RN, become a Charge Nurse, take additional courses, apply for positions, then get hired. 

A = Achievable 

When setting any goal, it needs to be within reach. Setting a goal that’s hard to reach may be inspiring, but when it isn’t achieved, it more often than not deters people from setting additional goals that are within reach. The most common example of this is when people set new year’s resolutions of losing more weight than is physically possible or pushing themselves beyond their reasonable limits. Make sure that your goal is still ambitious but within reason. Are there steps you need to take to be more prepared for this goal? Go back a step and add it to the list. 

R = Relevant 

Making sure that your goals are relevant is the next step in this sequence. It may seem redundant or even common sense to most, but relevance is key. Do each of your goals directly align with your end goal? If it doesn’t directly relate, you’ll need to go back and revisit the previous steps. It can be easy to drift away, add too much to your plate, or add in goals that don’t directly relate to your overall end goal [in this example, of becoming a Director of Nursing]. 

T = Time-based

Setting a deadline, much like anything in life, can help keep you on track and motivated. For example, if your end goal is to become a Director of Nursing, you’ll set the goal to become one in 36 months, allowing you to get enough years under your belt, additional schooling, and time to apply, interview, and get hired. Make sure you set your deadline for each step and that they are each realistic. Do your research on how much time it’ll take and set alerts or save notes in your calendar. Additional tip: set a date for each minor step; this way, you keep yourself accountable daily or weekly. 

The more goals we set within healthy boundaries, the more likely we are to build self-confidence, autonomy, and happiness. And now, more than ever, it’s important to spend our time on ourselves and our future rather than getting sucked into tv programs or social media. Use this time to follow the SMART method to set your achievable and ambitious goals to help build your future. 

Accountability Partner 

In addition to following the SMART method, finding an accountability partner can prove to be beneficial. Your accountability partner doesn’t need to set the same goal(s) as you, but they should have their own goals that you keep them accountable for. By making sure you both have your own goals, and you’re each responsible, you’ll be more likely to succeed. When you’re hard on them, they’ll understand and vice-versa. When it’s a family member or friend who doesn’t have their own goals, they are more commonly less involved, and it can be easier to brush them off when they try to keep you accountable. 

What goals are you setting for yourself? Have you recently achieved your goals? Let us know in the comments below. 

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About the author

Ashley Carty

Ashley Carty is a seasoned medical professional with over 8 years of experience working at the top hospitals in Southern California, including Hoag, Saddleback Memorial, and UCSD.

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