S.M.A.R.T. Goals are used to help guide goal setting; to ensure that you’re focusing your attention and your resources in the right places to achieve the things that are most important to you.
They can help you identify if what you want to achieve is realistic, and help you determine a timeframe/deadline.
S.M.A.R.T Goals are essentially statements of what you are working to actually accomplish—they’re specific and concise enough that you can easily measure progress and success, but “big picture” enough that they include information relevant to the core outcomes you want to achieve.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- S – Specific
- M – Measurable
- A – Achievable
- R – Realistic
- T – Time-Bound
Because S.M.A.R.T. Goals are designed to foster success, the language used in them should be positive. Still, people often set themselves up for failure by setting overly general goals for themselves.
Here are some examples:
“I want to be healthier.”
“I want to become the best at ______ in the world.”
While this is very positive language, goals that are specific are significantly more likely to be accomplished. Therefore, when crafting a S.M.A.R.T. Goal, the five “W”s should be addressed.
- Who – What individuals (or entities) are involved in achieving the goal?
- What – What is it that you want to accomplish?
- Where – Where will the goal be accomplished?
- When – When do you want to successfully achieve the goal?
- Why – Why is this goal something that you want to achieve?
S.M.A.R.T. goals need to have some way to measure progress toward them.
Without any mile markers along the way, there’s no way to determine how close you are to meeting your goal—or whether you’re on the right track to reach it at all.
For this section, you should focus on these questions:
- What tools or skills do I need to accomplish this goal?
- Do I already have these tools/skills? (If not, can I attain them? What will I need to attain them?)
Is the goal within your reach?
If it isn’t at the moment, will it be within your reach given enough time, effort, and resources?
If both of these are true, is this goal something you’re able to commit to?
It’s easy to set goals, but without realistic timing, people often set themselves up for failure.
Moreover, goals that are not constrained by time at all—without any sense of urgency—naturally produce less motivation in us to achieve them.
Therefore, to set a S.M.A.R.T. Goal, you need to answer these time-related questions:
- Does my goal have a deadline? If so, when is it?
- By when do I want to achieve this goal?
Once you’ve gone through each of the five S.M.A.R.T. characteristics, you can consolidate the information and craft a single goal statement.
Writing a S.M.A.R.T. goal shouldn’t be discouraging, demotivating, or daunting—it should be an inspiring, motivating, and enlightening process.