S.M.A.R.T. Goals


Developing a SMART goal helps you make sure your goal is focused. It also makes it easier to measure the progress you are making toward your desired result, because by design, this method adds a quantitative element to track progress.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART acronym stand for:

Specific: A specific goal is focused, detailed and clearly stated. Anyone reviewing the goal should understand exactly what the goal means.
Measurable: A measurable goal is quantitative in nature, meaning you (or a coach) can measure the results.
Attainable: An attainable goal is one that can be accomplished based on the resources and skill of the person trying to complete it.
Realistic: In addition to being attainable, a relevant goal applies to the achiever’s desire and current state. For instance, a marathon might be completely attainable but unrealistic for a new parent.
Time-bound: A time-bound goal has specific timelines and a deadline. This will help motivate you to move toward your goal, set milestones (to get early wins) and help you evaluate your progress in case realignment is necessary.

A SMART goal is structured so that anyone who reads your goal statement will easily understand it. Here are two examples of personal SMART goals:

  • “I will lose 16lbs and lower my body mass index from 27 to 24 by November 30, 2015.”
  • “I will finish 200 pages of my dissertation by August 15, 2015.”

How Do You Create a SMART Goal?

Start by identifying what it is you want to achieve. Then reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Decide if the goal you have chosen is honestly achievable given your current situation. If it is, choose a date you feel you can reasonably achieve your goal. Performing this careful planning up front can save you from a lot of headaches in the future

Next step, be specific and write it down in one sentence. Try not to use vague phrases such as “I want to learn about…” If you are too vague, how will you know when you reach your goal? Use an action word to describe what you want to achieve. Using an action word makes sure that your goal is clear and measurable. Examples of action words are:

  • Identify
  • Develop
  • Plan
  • Design
  • Compare
  • Describe
  • Evaluate
  • Explain
  • Demonstrate
  • Create

Now that you have your goal written as a sentence make sure you still believe it is a realistic yet challenging goal. A goal set too high may set you up for failure, whereas a goal set too low could fail to challenge and motivate you.

  • Not so SMART: “I want to learn to code.”
  • SMART: “I want to learn the coding language Python so that I can create my online game by September 30, 2015.”

SMART Goal Hints and Tips

  1. Make sure you refine what you define: Everything about a SMART goal should be as specific as possible.
  2. Keep it simple but plan: Where do you need to invest, time, money, and effort to make sure your goal happen?
  3. Firmly commit to the time-frame to complete your goal: Use specific words and get granular: day, month, and year.

Here Are a Few Questions You Can Ask to Help Refine Your Goals

  • What are the challenges you need to face to accomplish your goal?
  • How can you get through these challenges?
  • What do you need to learn, achieve, and define, in order to achieve the goal?
  • What positive effects would you gain by achieving that goal? (Keeping the answer to this question top of mind will further help you complete your goal.)

Setting goals can be daunting. Be patient but deliberate, with unyielding resolve, and you can (and will) achieve almost anything.

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