When it comes to goal setting, you may have heard of SMART goals, or goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. SMART is the one of the most well-known ways to identify goals. 


Tanya Dalton used the SMART system to help her clients for years but found that she always needed to add things to really make it work. In her book, On Purpose, Tanya takes the foundation of SMART and introduces us to IMPACT. IMPACT is kind of like SMART 2.0.


It’s just as easy to remember as SMART and helps you set goals that are tied to a larger purpose.


Note: IMPACT helps you understand and write your goals but does not contain the steps to achieving them. IMPACT is the what of goal setting; not the how.


Let’s break down what each letter means and how you can use it to set the right goals for you.

I – Inspirational – Is this goal something that fires you up? If it is, write your goal as a positive statement; like it’s an inevitable outcome. Don’t say: I want to run a marathon. Say: I am a marathon runner.

M – Measurable – How will you track your progress toward this goal? If no numbers can be attached to your goal, try color-coding your habit tracker with Green for days that went well, Yellow for OK days, and Blue* for days that went off-track. *Red may be the obvious choice, but Tanya is not a fan of red ink.

P – Purpose-driven – Tie your goals to something bigger than just reaching the finish line. When you connect your dreams to a higher purpose, you’ll feel even more satisfied when you reach them. See what you’re doing as part of a bigger, more meaningful plan.

A – Adaptable – Make your goals changeable for when life throws you a curveball. If you fail on a certain day because your children were sick and you couldn’t go to the gym, your goal should allow for this. Whatever you do, don’t quit just because you missed a day of something.

C – Challenging – Set a goal that pushes you just outside of your comfort zone. You’ll feel optimistic and motivated to keep growing as you reach small, attainable milestones. Don’t focus on what you’re giving up, focus on what you’re going to get.


T – Time – Set a deadline and stick to it. If your goal is a dream that you’ve been pushing off to “someday,” then a deadline will help you create urgency. Need someone to hold you accountable? Enlist the help of a support group, a fitness class, or even a friend or family member that you can trust to motivate you.

Remember, goals are not the goal. They are the vehicle to take you where you want to be.

If you’re not sure exactly where you want to be, start with the end in mind. When you picture the happiest, most satisfied version of yourself, what does that look like? When you define your goals with IMPACT, you’re one step closer to that vision.