Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

When you set effective goals, you will achieve more! Goals provide focus, enhance productivity, bolster self-esteem, and increase commitment. When setting a goal, clearly outline the series of steps for achieving it to stay on track and keep you from becoming overwhelmed. This goal setting method can be used in your professional life, personal life and for your personal development.

There have been many times in my life when I haven’t set achievable goals, like the time I decided to sign up for a local 10k run. I felt I was aerobically fit but running wasn’t part of my training program. I loved step aerobics, cycling and weight lifting. Race day came and I was barely able to complete the run and I paid for it over the next several days! I was so sore I could barely walk and I was thankful that I did not injure myself.  Believe me when I say that setting goals and practicing a good training program made my next race faster and without any soreness!


S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for:

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant (or Realistic), and Time bound.

SMART goals were developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller and James Cunningham in their 1981 article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives” 



The goal you set should be specific and as detailed as possible.  The more information you supply, the more accurate the results will be.  Include the following:  

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • What requirements or challenges exist?

For example, “I want to exercise more” is not specific enough and feels unmanageable. However, when you include the specifics; “I want to go to the gym at least 3 times per week starting on the 1st of the month so that I can become stronger and more flexible” is more specific and defined.  



Add details, measurements and tracking details. Create a checklist of tasks to get done and check off each item as it is accomplished.  Without measurable goals, it’s hard to gauge progress. And if you can’t tell if you are on the right track, you won’t know if and when you need to adjust your goals. 

For example, “ I will use a training log and take my measurements and photos”.  You will be able to measure your improvements in strength and flexibility by keeping notes and reviewing the dates on your calendar of when you attended a training session.


Is this goal attainable? When you clearly identify your goal, you develop the attitudes, abilities and skills to attain it successfully. We often get caught up in what we think we should be doing instead of going after our core desires. Make sure your goals align with your future vision!

For example: “By looking at my work schedule, I am able to go to the gym Monday-Wednesday and Friday mornings before work”.  


“I want to stay strong so that I can do fun things with my family”. Is your goal realistic? Be honest with yourself about your available time and energy and plan accordingly. It may not be a realistic goal if you have many challenges and roadblocks. Re-think your goals and make them achievable so that you will stay motivated and inspired.

Time bound:

Anchor your goal with a deadline and mark each deadline in your planner to stay on track.  

Example: “I want to be able to touch my toes in 90 days”.

To keep things simple, here are a few examples of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

SMART goal for running a half marathon

  • Specific: I’d like to start training every day to run a half marathon.
  • Measurable: I will use my Apple Watch to track my training progress as my mileage increases.
  • Attainable: I’ve already run a 10k this year, so I have a solid base-fitness level.
  • Relevant/Realistic: I value my health and wellness, and this goal will help me sustain that. My work schedule is such that I have some flexibility to train.
  • Time-bound: The half marathon is 6 months away, so I need to be ready by then.
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SMART goal for waking up earlier

  • Specific: I want to wake up earlier to have more time for my morning routine.
  • Measurable: I’ll start setting my alarm clock for 6:15 AM this week, and each week set it earlier by 15 minutes. Plus, I’ll write on my calendar the time when I actually woke up to measure progress.
  • Attainable: My schedule allows me to go to bed at a reasonable time each night, so waking up earlier won’t affect my hours of rest.
  • Relevant/Reasonable: My morning routines are filled with getting the family ready for the day, and I feel rushed trying to get to work each day, so waking up early would help me feel calmer.
  • Time-bound: In four weeks, I want to wake up one hour earlier than when I usually wake up now.

SMART goal for improving my emotional regulation

  • Specific: I will gain a better sense of control over my emotions and feel calmer.
  • Measurable: I’ll write in my journal every night, and every Sunday, I’ll review my feelings and thoughts from the week.
  • Attainable: I’ve always had a good sense of self-awareness, but now I want to better control my emotions.
  • Relevant/Realistic: I’ve started seeing a therapist, and I have other goals that relate to my well-being. I am also able to use my lunch hour once a week for my appointment.
  • Time-bound: By the time of our family reunion in 6 months, I want to feel in control of my emotions.
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Set SMART Goals

Don’t be afraid to adjust or reset your action plan if you find things aren’t working out like you planned. Acknowledge setbacks, but don’t dwell on them! Progress is progress, even if it’s slow. Remember, “slow and steady wins the race!” Don’t give up on your goals, just reassess and reach out to someone such as a friend or mentor, Health Coach, Professional Coach, or Therapist to help you navigate the goals you would like to achieve.

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