Setting Smart Goals


One of the more important things you can do for yourself is to work on Setting Smart Goals.  A set of goals will allow you to create a plan of action to meet the goal.  This entry will focus on how you begin setting SMART goals. Each goal should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time based. It is related to another set of blog entries on Personal Development Planning.


Setting goals is part of a larger set of activities around personal or career growth.   Today’s blog entry will focus on what is a SMART and how to set a SMART goal.  Over the years I have tried to set both personal and career goals for myself.  If you are like me you set goals at the beginning of the year as part of your New Year’s resolution.   However, it is important to review your goals more frequently as I have mentioned in my blog entry “Creating a Personal Development Plan in 4 Steps”.

As I have written before I like to learn and grow.  I use goal setting to help me stay focused.  It has also been a way for me to measure my growth from month to month or year to year.

Setting SMART Goals

I really like the reference of SMART to help me with setting goals.  Each of the letters is significant to the ability to set and accomplish goals.   I like to work out and stay in shape.  Here is a goal that we can use as an example of a SMART goal:

“In 2024, Working out for 60 Minutes 4 times a week starting in January”

Here are the five elements to describe a SMART goal:

  • Specific – being specific will increase the likelihood of you being successful with your goal.  In our example we have two specific criteria for our goal.  Length of a workout is 60 minutes and we will do the workout 4 times a week.   When being specific you might want to answer questions like these:
    • Who is involved?
    • What timeframe? 
    •  How often?
  • Measurable – this is a key element to be sure you can measure or track your progress.  In our goal the two measurements are to do a workout for 60 minutes and complete the workout 4 times a week.  We could create a spreadsheet to measure our progress.  For each week we can track the days you work out and the length of each workout.   We want to be able to answer these questions:
    • How many?
    • Was the goal accomplished?
  • Attainable – it is important to be sure that you can attain the goal.  You will want to assess your skills and create a plan to achieve the goal.  You may need to adjust your goals based on the timeframe needed to accomplish the goal.  In our example goal, if you have not worked out recently you may need to change 30 minutes rather than 60 minutes.  Over time you could increase the length of your workout. 
  • Realistic – this element is needed to ensure that you have both the ability and skill to meet the goal.   You will want to be sure that you also have the determination to meet the goal.  Let’s say that you have family obligations that demand your time you may need to adjust the length of the workouts to better fit your schedule.
  • Timely – the last element is that the goal be time based.  Setting a timeframe will help you to measure the success of the goal.  In our example we indicated the duration was for 2024 and the timeframe starts in January.


I hope this entry helps you to improve being able to set SMART goals.  It is really important to use the five elements to avoid setting generic or general goals that are not measurable.