What is a SMART Goal and Why You Should Set Them

What is a Smart Goal

Before we get into what is a SMART goal, there are some other general goal setting principles that should be mentioned. When setting goals, you want to challenge yourself, but not set goals that are too difficult that you are just setting yourself up for failure. To set yourself up for maximum success, make sure your goals fit the following criteria:

Create Goals that Rely on Yourself to Achieve

If you are dependent on someone else to be able to reach the goal, then you are not 100 percent in control, and you, yourself, are unable to solely determine the outcome of whether your goal is achieved or not. Create goals for yourself that are under your control. This, by itself, will significantly enhance your chances of success. You may need to get rid of some self-limiting beliefs here. For example, if you believe that your financial future is out of your control, this is one belief that does not serve you and that you will want to reexamine.

Envision the result after you have achieved your goal

Take some time to envision how things will be once you have achieved your goal. This will allow you to feel the emotions that go with the achievement of your goal and will significantly enhance your motivation and ability to do the work it will take to achieve your goal. Do not limit yourself and let yourself dream big. Once again, you may need to work on dispelling self-limiting beliefs. You can read more about how to motivate yourself to achieve your goals here.

The more clarity you have surrounding your goal, the more likely you will be to follow through and achieve it.

Get more done with SMART goals.

The more clarity you have surrounding your goal, the more likely you will be to follow through and achieve it. One way to gain clarity surrounding your goals is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What is a SMART Goal? and why you should set them

What Is a Smart Goal?

When setting goals, there is a well-known acronym S.M.A.R.T. Setting your goals in this way can help you make better goals. Each letter stands for a different aspect of the goal. When you create a smart goal, you have created a Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Reasonable, and Timely goal. Using SMART goals can give you a better chance at success in your goal setting.

Now, let’s discuss each letter in the SMART acronym in further detail.


S stands for specific, which means that your goal needs to be very precise and spelled out. You want to use language that is not vague and leaves no doubt about the goal, why you want to achieve the goal, and how you will go about getting there. These are all very important in making sure your goal is specific. If your goal is not detailed and precise, it will be hard to know if you have met it. A good goal is a very specific one. For example, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight.” Instead, describe the number of pounds you wish to lose by what date and how you are going to go about doing it. Such as, “I will lose 6 pounds in 4 weeks by losing 1.5 pounds a week.” “I will do this by exercising for 45 minutes daily and eating no more than 1,300 calories per day.”


M stands for measurable, which means that you should be able to use it as a metric for determining success. If your goal can not be quantified, you will not know when you have succeeded and obtained your goal. An example of a measurable goal is: I want to make an extra $500 per month of income by writing ten 1000-word articles each week as a freelance writer.


A. There are different things that the A in SMART can stand for, but it’s usually actionable, or achievable. For a goal to be actionable, it has to be something that you can take consistent action toward that will eventually result in accomplishing the goal. Your goals should also be achievable. If you do not believe that you can achieve the goal, it won’t be easy to find the motivation to work towards it. Be accurate about the time it takes to reach a goal and what actions it takes to get there.

Just like using a map to reach a destination, you can break down your goal into smaller steps that you can take to get you there. The more detail you can provide, the better. The more clarity you have, the more likely you are to follow through.


R. The R in SMART can stand for realistic or relevant, and either is essential and true. If you want to succeed in reaching your goal, it should be realistic and obtainable. It should also match with your values and be relevant to your life’s overall vision.

You don’t want to create a goal that is too difficult to achieve or, worse, impossible. Be sure that itís scientifically possible to do it by researching everything realistically. For example, while you should be stretching outside of your comfort zone, you’re not likely to start a business today and earn six figures in two months. Look at the research and determine what is doable and how you’ll do it. To stay motivated and to keep taking action toward your goal, you have to believe that you can achieve it.


T. Various authors refer to the T in the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as time-bound, or trackable. If you don’t set a time limit or date that you will achieve your goal by, and you can’t track whether you are getting closer to achieving your goal. Your goal will be hard to quantify or show as completed.

Every goal has to have a time limit; otherwise, it is just a dream or a wish. Start with the end and work your way back to today, creating the list of things to do each day to reach your goal finally. You can also set time limits along the way for each of the specific steps you are going to take to reach your goal. Although you can adjust as you get into the project if it works to be more realistic but resist the urge to change the time because you’re not sticking to what you have committed to yourself to do.

Download the SMART goals worksheet below to help you set your own SMART goals.

smart goals mockup


If you use this method to create compelling goals that you can achieve, you will significantly enhance your chances of success. You can always adjust your timeline and your goals as you learn more during the process as long as your adjustments are not due to not following through with your commitment to yourself. Just make sure to give each goal some thought, consideration, and research before setting it.

Whichever words you use to help you craft your goals, the important thing is that you follow a process to help you make SMART goals. Smart goals are goals that you follow through on achieving and know when you’ve met them.

You can read about some time management techniques here for helping you to achieve those SMART goals you have set! And if you need any convincing on why you should set goals in the first place, this article on why you should set goals and review them regularly is a must read.

What is a SMART Goal?

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