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Goal Setting- How SMART are you?

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

Setting SMART Goals

Goals are part of our personal, professional and academic lives. A clear goal gives us a sense of direction, motivation, clear focus, and clarifies importance. By setting goals, you are providing yourself with a target to aim for and path to follow. A SMART Goal is used to help guide goal setting. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Therefore, a SMART goal incorporates all of these criteria to help focus your efforts and increase the chances of achieving your goal.

  • Specific: Well defined and clear

  • Measurable: With specific criteria that measure your progress

  • Attainable: Achievable and not impossible

  • Realistic: Within reach, realistic, and relevant to your life

  • Timely: With a clear timeline that includes a starting date/time and a target date.


Goals that are specific are significantly more likely to be accomplished. Consider the 5 W Questions…

Who: Who is involved in this goal?

What: What do I want to accomplish?

Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?

When: When do I want to achieve this goal?

Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?

A general goal would be “I want to get fit.” A more specific goal would be “I want to join a specific local gym healthier.”


A goal must have criteria for measuring progress which will keep you on track to reach your goal. To make a goal measurable, ask:

  • How many or how much?

  • How do I know if I have reached my goal?

  • What is my indicator of progress?

For example, continuing the specific goal above: I want to join the local gym and work out four days a week to be healthier. I will work out 2 days a week in the morning, once at night and always on Sundays. Every week, I will aim to do 3 aerobic and 1 strength workout.


A goal must be achievable and attainable. This will help you figure out strategies that will enable you to realize that goal and work towards it. The achievability of the goal should be stretched to make you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve it. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have the resources and capabilities to achieve the goal? If not, what am I missing?

  • Have others done it successfully before?

SMART Goal – Realistic

A goal must be realistic in that the goal can be achieved given the available resources and time. A SMART goal is likely realistic if you believe that it can be accomplished. Ask yourself:

  • Is the goal realistic and within reach?

  • Is the goal reachable, given the time and resources?

  • Are you able to commit to achieving the goal?


A goal must have a start and finish date. If the goal is not time-constrained, there will be no sense of urgency and, therefore, less motivation to achieve the goal. Ask yourself:

  • Does my goal have a deadline?

  • By when do you want to achieve your goal?

For example, building on the goal above: November 1, I will join the local gym In order to be healthier. I will work out four days a week. I will work out 2 days a week in the morning, once at night and always on Sundays. Every week, I will aim to lose one pound and do 3 aerobic and 1 strength workout. By the end of November, I will have realized my goal if I have done 12 workouts over the course of the month.

The Importance of SMART Goal Setting

Often, individuals or businesses will set themselves up for failure by setting general and unrealistic goals such as “I want to be the best at X.” This goal is vague, with no sense of direction. SMART goals set you up for success. The SMART method helps push you further, gives you a sense of direction, and helps you organize and reach your goals.

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