How to Write SMART Goals (Definition and Examples)

Last Updated on January 1, 2023 by Milton Campbell

Do you ever feel like you are stuck in a rut? Not achieving your true potential. Well, maybe it’s time to start setting the right type of goals.

Goals are the foundation of success. Since you are here I assume you want to be the best version of yourself. Many times people want to be better but they fail to take action. Learning how to write SMART goals is a step toward being more successful and achieving your goals.

What are SMART goals? (Definition)

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. It is a form of goal setting that defines your objective and helps you formulate a plan to get there. Having a plan is crucial for anyone trying to achieve success. I’m not saying it’s impossible to blindly reach your goals, but you have a much better chance when you have a plan. Smart goal setting will help you formulate that plan and give you a path to success. In this article, you will find everything you need to reach “smart goal success”.

Smart goal infographic to explain how to write smart goals.
SMART Goal Infographic

How to Write SMART Goals


Goals should be specific. A specific goal means having a well-defined goal with as many details as possible. Consider who, what, why, when, and where. For example, having a goal of getting into better shape is a general goal. While having the goal of going to the gym and doing 30 mins of cardio at least 4 times a week is more specific. It explains where and how you are going to achieve your goal.


Goals should be measurable. This means you should be able to measure and track your progress. You should have quantifiable data. For example, the goal of wanting to get into shape is not measurable. Now if you say I want to be able to bench my body weight, or I want to lose 30 pounds, those are measurable. You can easily keep track of these goals and visually see your progress in something like a chart.


These goals need to be attainable. You may have a goal of being a millionaire by the end of the year. If you currently make $50K a year, chances are you are not going to achieve your goal. Be realistic with yourself. You want to set yourself up for success with your goals. When forming your goals, ask yourself if it’s something you are physically and mentally capable of doing. If it’s not, then you should reevaluate your goal.


Your objectives should be relevant to you, your situation, and your vision. Does achieving this goal really matter to you? Is it something of importance to you? If it’s not, then you will likely not pursue this goal for very long. Use your time and energy to work on goals that matter to you. The more important it is in your life the higher your chances of successfully fulfilling your goal.

Time Bound

SMART goals are time-bound. This means setting a time limit on when you want to achieve your goal. Your time for achieving the goal should be attainable, but you don’t want to give yourself too much time either. You want to set a time to force yourself to stick to the plan and reach your goal before the deadline.

Putting it all together, a SMART goal could be something like I will lose 30 pounds in 3 months. By going to the gym at least 4 times a week and doing a minimum of 30 mins of cardio.

More SMART Goal Examples

Example #1

I will complete the remaining 8 classes to get my bachelor’s degree within 12 months.

  • Specific – Completing a bachelor’s degree is well defined and specific to the individual.
  • Measurable – This goal can be measured by how many classes need to be completed and completing the bachelor’s degree is a definite sign that the goal has been reached.
  • Attainable – For this individual, they can complete 8 classes in less than a year so the goal is something they can achieve.
  • Relevant – This goal is relevant to this person because they want to complete their degree to begin or advance in their career.
  • Time-bound – Stating within 12 months gives this goal a specific time frame.

Example #2

I will save $100 a week so I can have $5,200 in my savings account in a year.

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  • Specific – This goal is specific saying $100 a week and $5,200 after a year.
  • Measurable – This goal can be measured on both a weekly and yearly basis.
  • Attainable – For this individual, $100 a week is easily attainable with a few adjustments to their budget.
  • Relevant – Having healthy savings for a rainy day is relevant to pretty much everybody.
  • Time-bound – Both weekly and yearly give this goal a time frame.

Example #3

I will complete all the required training for promotion at my job within the next 4 months.

  • Specific – This goal is well defined stating training for promotion.
  • Measurable – This can be measured by how much training is completed.
  • Attainable – This is something this individual is fully capable of doing. Notice the goal is not to get promoted because that is something the individual can not control. They can control being ready for promotion.
  • Relevant – This is a relevant goal to this person for them to be eligible for the promotion.
  • Time-bound – This person wants to complete this within 4 months giving the goal a time frame.

Why is SMART Goal Setting Important?

SMART goals give you a sense of direction on how to achieve your vision of your future. Because of the specificity of SMART goals, it’s easy to make a plan on how you are going to reach your goal. Once the goal is set, you can start working your way backward from where you want to be. Determine your path to achieving your goal. SMART goals also put your feet to the fire by forcing you to meet a deadline. SMART goals can keep you motivated because you can judge or see the progress you are making toward your goal.

Are there any Drawbacks with Setting SMART Goals?

One of the drawbacks of SMART goals is a lack of flexibility. They are very analytical meaning they are not meant to be adjusted. Either you reach your goal, or you don’t. This type of goal setting may not always be the best for long-term goals. You can never predict what life will throw at you. When using SMART goals for long-term goals, you may want to set a period to reevaluate the goal and adjust as necessary.

For example, say you want to pay your mortgage in half the time. If you get sick in year 2, you might miss some time at your job. On top of the extensive hospital bills. This may make your goal unattainable, and it may need to be readjusted based on the circumstances.

Tips for Success When Setting SMART Goals

Write Them Down

Writing down your goals is a great way to reinforce them in your conscious and your subconscious. You can use a goal planner, a journal, sticky notes, or just about anything you can write on. I prefer to use sticky notes, so I can put them in places like my bathroom, so I read them multiple times a day.

Create a Vision Board

A vision board is a tool that will get you closer to achieving smart goal success. Vision boards are a great way to put images to your goals which will greatly improve the chances of reaching your target. You can create a vision board for free or very cheap. Although physical vision boards are my preferred option because you can hang them up, digital vision boards can be great for convenience. You can also take them anywhere. Whichever vision board you choose to use, will help you in your pursuit.

Be Consistent

Being successful at reaching your objective requires commitment and dedication. Before you do something ask yourself if it helps you get closer to your goals. If not then is it something you need to do? Or can your time be used on something that will get you closer to your objective? Try to work toward your goals every day, even if it’s just small steps. Progress is progress.

Reward Progress

Progress can be tough so reward yourself when you make progress. Especially when it comes to significant accomplishments. You can reward yourself with anything from ice cream or a trip to the Bahamas depending on how big the accomplishment is. The important thing is that you recognize that you did it. You are making progress toward being even more awesome than you already are.

Share Your Goals

Talk to others about your goals. When you tell family and friends about your intentions it will help keep you focused. You don’t want to let your family and friends down. They will also ask about progress and how it’s going. This will help keep your objective fresh in your mind. Think of it as extra motivation to see it through to the end.

Chunk it Down

Think about reaching your goal and work your way backward, thinking about what steps you need to do to get there. Each of those steps should become mini-goals. These mini-goals are much easier to achieve and keep the momentum going. One mini-goal leads to the next. And once you start getting a couple of wins under your belt progress will almost become unstoppable.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is a great way to stay motivated and keep the momentum going. To-do lists and bullet journals are great ways to keep progress. Certain goals work well with charts. For example, saving enough money for a down payment on a house can be graphed on a chart to show your progress. Excel is a great program for creating graphs that are a beautiful representation of your progress.

Be Ready for Hurdles

Setbacks are bound to happen from time to time. Be prepared for them and try to head them off as soon as possible. You can’t predict every problem in your way. You must do your best to think about as many of them as you can and come up with solutions. The biggest part is staying mentally prepared. Many people hit a roadblock and get so mentally frustrated that they give up on their goals altogether. Remember why you set the goal, to begin with, and let that motivate you through the setbacks.

Get Help

Seek out others that are going after the same things you are trying to achieve. Or find others that have already reached the goal you are going after. These people are great for providing support, guidance, and additional motivation. Some online places you can find like-minded people are Facebook Groups, Forums, and Quora but family and friends are also great options. Seek out these mentors, and you may find one that is willing to take you under their wing. The more advice and guidance you can get from like-minded people the more chance of success you will have.

Understand What Motivates You

Motivations can be many things. It can be money, power, fame, self-image, fear, or curiosity just to name a few. Be honest with yourself what is your real motivation. Understanding your motivation will help you know how to continue moving forward.

For more SMART goal examples and a free SMART goal template CLICK HERE.

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