SMART Goals vs. Manifestation: Which Method Will Help You Achieve Your Goals?


OrEveryone’s brain works differently; when planning out how to achieve your goals, what works for you may not help someone else. The methods of manifestation and SMART goals work in opposite ways.

One focuses on quantifying success and determining specific steps to achieve a goal, while the other uses positive thinking and visualization to attract success. It’s not a question of which one is better. It’s a question of which method would work best for you.

Let’s take a look at how manifestation works, what SMART goals are, and compare and contrast the two methods.

What Is Manifestation?

Between angel numbers, horoscopes, and TikTok trends, manifestation might seem like just another trending buzzword for Instagram influencers.

But manifestation has a lot more to it than wearing a “positive vibes” t-shirt and collecting crystals.

Manifestation is the practice of focusing on something you want. By deliberately focusing on positive thoughts or specific goals, you invite these good things into your life. It relies on the law of attraction, which states that what you focus on will come to you.

On the surface, it sounds ridiculous. How could thinking about getting a promotion help get me one?

Hard work is what separates manifestation from wishful thinking. Someone who just hopes for something to happen won’t see any results. But someone that actively reminds themselves of their goals, hopes, and dreams will put in the effort to achieve them.

Let’s look at the law of attraction when applied to positivity. Let’s say you want to be a more positive person. You choose to consistently reframe your thoughts as positive. Instead of being upset that you missed your train, think of it as an opportunity to call your mom with your extra time.


If you consistently choose positivity and eliminate limiting beliefs, you’re going to attract people with a similar mindset. It becomes so much easier to choose a positive mindset when you’re surrounded by people who choose to look at things with a positive attitude. Now that you’re surrounded by people who look on the bright side, how will that impact your life?

Remember that promotion you were hoping for? You’re surrounded by people that will encourage you to work hard, take risks, and make your name known in the company. You’ll get inspired by their encouragement and will then put in the hard work to get yourself closer to your goal. And if you face roadblocks, you can reframe it as an opportunity to learn and try again.

Manifestation isn’t sitting back and asking the universe to give you whatever you want. It’s soul searching to determine what you want your future to look like. It’s deciding on what your goals are. And it’s focusing on the possibilities of what could happen if you gave it your all. It’s putting in the hard work to make those dreams come true.


What Are SMART Goals?

While SMART goals also help you achieve your aspirations, they take the opposite approach to manifestation. Instead of focusing on the feeling you want to achieve and relying on the law of attraction, you set clear definitions of success and concretely determine how you will get there. Instead of relying on inspiration, it focuses on achieving your goals through strict planning and discipline.

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable/Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

If you are someone that thrives on deadlines and to-do lists, setting SMART goals could help you achieve success.

With a SMART goal, you’ll never wonder if you’ve actually completed your mission. Everything is quantified and you have a particular deadline you need to meet. By the time that deadline rolls around, you’ll know exactly whether you’ve met the qualifications for the goal or not.


Choosing SMART Goals vs. Manifestation

So you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish. How do you go about achieving success?

Let’s take a look at how we would go about reaching the same goal through the manifestation process and the SMART framework.

Here’s the goal; you want to become a more successful small businesswoman. Let’s analyze the different approaches you could use to reach your goal.

The Manifestation Process

You want to be a more successful businesswoman.

What does success look like to you? When you think about success, what does it feel like? Do you have more money to live more comfortably? Do you have more clients to showcase your skills? Or, do you want to be able to hire more people to help increase job opportunities?

You decide that success to you is making more money. Instead of crunching numbers, it’s time to think about why you want to make more money.

What will you do with this money? What opportunities does this money open up for you? Do you want to take more vacations? Do you want to be able to move into a nicer home? Are you saving up for something special?

If you have a particular reason why you want to make more money, make a vision board that illustrates what that success will feel like. Create a mantra to repeat to yourself or hang up on the wall. Practice meditations where you visualize that success so you work towards bringing that feeling into your life.

If you can’t think of a particular reason for what that money can do for you, ask yourself why you want to make more money. Why does money equate to success in your mind? Is it just an easy way to quantify that you’re doing something right?

How else can we define success? What if instead, success was doing work that brought you joy? All the money in the world can’t fix a feeling of unhappiness or purposelessness.

This method helps you determine your “why.” Then you can focus on visualizing that dream and motivating yourself to make it a reality.

3 Ways Manifesting

The SMART Goal Framework

So let’s break down exactly what success as a small businesswoman looks like for you.

When you think about success, how do you define it? Do you have more money to live more comfortably? Do you have more clients to showcase your skills? Or, do you want to be able to hire more people to help increase job opportunities?

Once you decide what success looks like, it’s time to break it down into the SMART framework so you know quantifiably when you’ve achieved success. Once you decide where to put the goal posts, you can form a plan on how exactly you will achieve your specific goal.

So the overall goal is to grow the business’s financial success. Let’s break down what your specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal will look like.

  1. Specific: I will increase my company’s revenue by $12,000.
  2. Measurable: My goal is measurable by monetary value.
  3. Attainable: Since we make $10,000 a month currently, it’s not unreasonable to make $1,000 more a month.
  4. Relevant: Increasing revenue is relevant to my business’s goals because I want to bring on more staff and open up more high-paying opportunities for my community.
  5. Time-Bound: I will achieve this goal within the time frame of 1 year.

Once you know that your goal is to make $12,000 more within a year, you can develop your exact action plan on where to invest your time and resources to make it happen. For example, you could try to increase the number of clients your company serves. And you’ll know exactly when you’ve achieved your goal, since you’ve defined it so concretely.

Smart Goals

SMART Goals vs. Manifestation: The Takeaway

The only way to find out whether SMART goals or manifestation will help you achieve your version of success is by trying them out. For one goal, make a vision board to inspire you every day.

For another, create a step-by-step action plan that leads to your success. See which method helps you focus on taking steps every day to get closer to your goal. If you write SMART goals, measure your progress by checking your quantifiable goals.

If you chose manifestation, focus on whether or not you feel like you’re closing in on success.

And perhaps different goals require different methods. Maybe manifestation will help you focus on making healthier life choices while SMART goals will help you achieve some workplace goals. Experiment with each method to see how these different approaches can help you create a life you love.

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Author, Artist, Photographer.

Sarah Margaret is an artist who expresses her love for feminism, equality, and justice through a variety of mediums: photography, filmmaking, poetry, illustration, song, acting, and of course, writing.

She owns Still Poetry Photography, a company that showcases her passion for capturing poetic moments in time. Instead of poetry in motion, she captures visual poetry in fractions of a second, making cherished keepsakes of unforgettable moments.

She is the artist behind the Still Poetry Etsy shop, which houses her illustrations and bespoke, handmade items. She is the author of intricacies are just cracks in the wall, a narrative poetry anthology that follows a young woman discovering herself as she emerges from an abusive relationship.


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