5 Ways to Go About Goal Setting (That Isn’t SMART)

With the start of a new year, means time to set new goals for 2023.

Using the criteria SMART is probably the most popular. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. But this isn’t the only way to help you set realistic goals you can achieve. Today, I’m sharing five different ways to go about goal setting.


Brace yourself, we’re stepping into a minefield of acronyms. But, setting goals with PACT in mind means your goals will be purposeful, actionable, continuous, and trackable. The draw in using PACT is that they’re continuous and focused more on the output to achieve the goal, rather than the outcome of the goal. In other words, a SMART goal focuses on one big achievement, whereas a PACT goal focuses on the bigger ongoing efforts.

To set a PACT goal, think about the bigger purpose of your entire organization and align the goal to that, like alleviating hunger. Make sure it is actionable, meaning you can start taking control of it now, not in the far future. Set a goal that you can repeat and see continuous improvement, perhaps in milestones. And finally, think about how you can track your progress, like number of people served. Or a way not measured by data. It can be as simple as a yes or no answer. Did you contact five new beneficiaries today? Yes. That’s a trackable goal!


CLEAR goals are great for projects that require multiple people and impact entire organizations. CLEAR stands for: collaborative, limited, emotional, appreciable, and refinable. They are more adjustable than SMART goals and allow you to work with others more seamlessly. A CLEAR goal is one that can only be completed by a group of people that work together. It is limited in scope and aligned to the bigger ‘why’: Why do you want to make a difference? Why is your organization working towards this?


If SMART goals feel too…big or long-term consider a FAST goal. The idea behind a FAST goal is that it gets discussed throughout the year. FAST aptly stands for: Frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent. This means that the goal is top of mind, but will require you to hone in on something specific as you’re setting it. In marketing, it could be awareness-building. And the key here is that they are transparent. It will hold you to a system of sharing results, so you can see your progress. In this way, you’re held accountable but you can also see what others are working towards and collaborate.


Enough with the acronyms! Micro-goals are smaller goals that allow you to work towards a larger one. This is my typical approach. Those big, overarching, yearlong goals can be daunting. Instead, break down what you want to achieve into smaller steps so you can see and feel your progress as you go. For example, if you want to grow your email subscriber list by 5,000 this year, set a goal of how many solicitations you want to send per week. Then break down the goal to how many subscribers you want to gain per month. It seems much more manageable this way, right?


While anti-goals sound quite negative, in reality, they help you get rid of the things you don’t want and make time for the things you do want. Think about the tasks that take more time than they are worth, or the efforts that no one really wants to collaborate on. Write those things down and then think about how you can stop them from happening. While it might not seem like a goal per se, you’re setting yourself up for success by listening to how—and when—you work best.

What are your organizational (or personal) goals for 2023? Have you started to set them yet? I encourage you to start thinking about them now, write it down and schedule check-ins! Having a physical copy, like in your marketing plan, and dedicated time to reflect can help you stay on track.