S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Results-Oriented
T - Time-Phased
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is something that is specific enough that there is no doubt what the standards of performance are and what steps need to be taken.
The goal needs to be something where you can measure your progress toward your goal and know exactly when you have reached it. It is not enough to say that you want to retire with a similar lifestyle to what you have today. You need to know exactly how much money you will need in today's dollars to reach a specific dollar amount in future dollars when you retire.
An attainable goal is realistic. It needs to be more than just a dream based on ideal circumstances. Your goal should allow for reality where there are both usual and unusual expenses.
Your goals should focus on the results you want to achieve. Setting out the smaller steps you need to take to achieve the goal helps you see the how each small step creates a result that gets you to the goal.
A goal is a dream with a deadline. The deadline is what makes the difference and inspires us to take action. Your goals should have a specific beginning and end. Knowing that you will retire some day may inspire you to put a few dollars away each year. Knowing that you want to retire in 10 or 15 years and knowing how much you need to save if you start today is far more likely to keep you on track with your spending and your saving.