goal statement using smart

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Dominic Price

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Dr. Mahreen Khan

Senior Quantitative Researcher, People Insights

Kat Boogaard

Principal Writer

goal statement using smart

How to write SMART goals

It’s easier to succeed when you have clearly defined objectives that are based in reality.

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5-second summary

  • Teams often fall short of meeting their goals due to a lack of consensus on the definition of success.
  • SMART goals use a specific set of criteria to help ensure that objectives are clearly defined and attainable within a certain timeframe.
  • Working through each step of creating a SMART goal can reveal instances where priorities and resources are out of alignment.

Meet Jane. She’s a product manager at a mid-sized tech company – let’s call it Techfirm, Inc. Jane has been tasked with increasing usage of Techfirm’s mobile app.

She knows she’ll need all hands on deck to make this happen, but when Jane has set team-wide goals in the past, they’ve quickly fallen off track. Nobody seemed to have a clear understanding of what success should look like; progress wasn’t monitored closely enough, and inevitably, that important objective slipped to the back burner (before toppling off the stove entirely).

That’s why, this time around, Jane plans to leverage SMART goals for setting an action plan and staying the course.

Want to get started right now?

Use our template to define the different components of your SMART goal.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Defining these parameters as they pertain to your goal helps ensure that your objectives are attainable within a certain time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, sets a clear timeline, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones.

An example of a SMART-goal statement might look like this: Our goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [timeframe or deadline]. [Key players or teams] will accomplish this goal by [what steps you’ll take to achieve the goal]. Accomplishing this goal will [result or benefit].

Let’s use Jane’s objective to work through each component.

S: Specific

In order for a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific. A specific goal answers questions like:

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Who’s responsible for it?
  • What steps need to be taken to achieve it?

Thinking through these questions helps get to the heart of what you’re aiming for. Here’s an example of a specific goal Jane might come up with:

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns.

M: Measurable

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals (that is, making sure they’re measurable) makes it easier to track progress and know when you’ve reached the finish line.

Jane and her product team want to grow the number of their mobile app users – but by how much? If they get even one new signup, that’s technically positive growth – so does that mean they’re done? Same goes for their strategy – how many platforms will they advertise on? 

To make this SMART objective more impactful, Jane should incorporate measurable, trackable benchmarks.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

A: Achievable

This is the point in the process when you give yourself a serious reality check. Goals should be realistic –  not  pedestals from which you inevitably tumble. Ask yourself: is your objective something your team can reasonably accomplish?

Jane might look at her goal and realize that, given her small team and their heavy workload, creating ad campaigns for four social platforms might be biting off more than they can chew. She decides to scale back to the three social networks where she’s most likely to find new clients.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Safeguarding the achievability of your goal is much easier when you’re the one setting it. However, that’s not always the case. When goals are handed down from elsewhere, make sure to communicate any restraints you may be working under. Even if you can’t shift the end goal, at least you can make your position (and any potential roadblocks) known up-front.

R: Relevant

Here’s where you need to think about the big picture. Why are you setting the goal that you’re setting? Jane knows that the app is a huge driver of customer loyalty, and that an uptick in their app usage could mean big things for the company’s bottom-line revenue goals. Now she revises her statement to reflect that context.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because mobile users tend to use our product longer, growing our app usage will ultimately increase profitability.

T: Time-bound

To properly measure success, you and your team need to be on the same page about when a goal has been reached. What’s your time horizon? When will the team start creating and implementing the tasks they’ve identified? When will they finish?

SMART goals should have time-related parameters built in, so everybody knows how to stay on track within a designated time frame.

When Jane incorporates those dates, her SMART goal is complete.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 within Q1 of 2022. This will be accomplished by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns, which will begin running in February 2022, on three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since mobile is our primary point of conversion for paid-customer signups, growing our app usage will ultimately increase sales.

Knowing how to set goals using the SMART framework can help you succeed in setting and attaining goals, no matter how large or small.

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What are SMART goals?

Where do smart goals come from, how to use smart goals to improve your career, 10 examples of smart goals, 8 extra tips for using smart goals, setting goals is the first step to reaching them.

If you want to make progress on your aspirations, it pays to be SMART. Setting goals isn’t something you should rush into without an action plan — it requires plenty of thought and purpose.

That’s where the SMART goal-setting method comes in handy. It lays the groundwork to achieve personal desires, business targets, and professional development milestones.

This tried-and-true method requires effort, but detailed SMART goal examples can provide inspiration to get you started. Use these examples and step-by-step instructions as a springboard to write your own SMART goals. Soon, you’ll know exactly what you need to accomplish your ambitions.

SMART goals follow a specific framework to achieve goals. You can use this method for any type of goal — personal, professional, financial, and more. You can also use the SMART goal framework for short-term and long-term goals .

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

Specific: Your goals should be limited to a single area. Instead of trying to “be a better person,” try focusing on your listening skills or positive self-talk .

Measurable: The goal must align with explicit metrics, such as saving a specific amount of money or qualifying for a particular certification. This indicates when you’ve accomplished your mission.

Attainable: The goal needs to be realistic . Maybe you won’t qualify for the Olympic basketball team, but you could improve your free throw percentage.

Relevant: Goals should move you in the direction of your values, dreams, and ambitions.

Time-bound: Time-based goals create urgency and encourage efficient time management. There must be a due date for completion so you can pace your efforts.

Once you’ve checked all these boxes, you’re left with a detailed goal-setting plan that keeps you focused and headed in the right direction. 

Using the SMART goal framework helps direct your actions toward reaching your goals. Framing your plans this way highlights potential challenges, letting you chart a detailed course that accounts for obstacles.

Developing an action plan that works for you can be difficult. But talking to friends or a life coach can help you set goals that will most benefit your future. And it gives you the social support you need to feel motivated and stay accountable.

Goal-setting theories and studies have been around for quite some time, but we have George T. Doran to thank for the SMART acronym and its accompanying goal framework. Building on existing goal-setting theory , Doran published his method in 1981 for use in business and management.

When he came up with the framework, many US businesses weren’t effectively setting goals or implementing successful planning processes. Doran used his framework to ensure managers had a solid template for creating meaningful, detailed objectives, such as increasing profitability and setting team benchmarks.

Doran’s original acronym stood for Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-related, focusing on delegating tasks in a corporate structure. It has since been adapted to fit a wide range of personal and professional ambitions.

Fast-forward to the present, and thousands of organizations and individuals use the SMART goal-setting method to achieve all manner of organizational and life goals.

Setting SMART goals can further your career development . Learning how to set goals and achieve them is an invaluable skill. They can be about improving, increasing, developing, or controlling outcomes at work. By creating these goals, you’re showing that you care about finding purpose in your career and are willing to put in the time and energy to do so. 


For example, imagine you’re starting at a new company as an entry-level employee. If you want to become part of management one day, you need to set detailed goals to get there. You’ll have to learn the necessary leadership skills , what warrants a promotion , and how many steps there are in the employee ladder. 

Your goals should help you visualize precisely where you want to be and the path you must take. Practical SMART goals chart a worthwhile action plan to get you there.

Before setting your own professional and personal goals , it may help to see some practical examples. Take note of these leadership, personal development , and work goals :

1. SMART goal for running a marathon

  • Specific: I’d like to start training every day to run a marathon.
  • Measurable: I will use a fitness tracking device to track my training progress as my mileage increases.
  • Attainable: I’ve already run a half-marathon this year and have a solid baseline fitness level.
  • Relevant: I value my health and wellness, and this fitness goal will help me sustain that.
  • Time-bound: The marathon is in June of next year, so I must be ready by then.

2. SMART goal for writing a book

  • Specific: I have an idea for a story, and I want to turn it into a novel.
  • Measurable: It should be at least 100,000 words long, and I want to spend at least three hours each day working on it.
  • Attainable: I’m retired, so I have more time for this project. I am an avid reader and writer, so I know what makes a good story and a compelling read.
  • Relevant: Reading and writing have always been a passion of mine, which motivates me to become an author myself.
  • Time-bound: I’ll start writing in the first week of July and finish my first draft by December.


3. SMART goal for building a better relationship

  • Specific: I want to build a better relationship with my father, in which I’m more aware of his well-being.
  • Measurable: I’ll talk to him over the phone twice weekly and meet up for breakfast every Sunday. I will set reminders on my phone to check in with him about the life events he mentions.
  • Attainable: We live close to each other, and I recently improved my work-life balance , meaning I will have the necessary time and energy to dedicate to our relationship.
  • Relevant: I want to strengthen our bond, build autonomy in relationships, and understand my family members more, starting with him.
  • Time-bound: I will call him this Friday and ask him to breakfast. I will maintain this plan until the end of the month and then set new goals for the end of the year.

4. SMART goal example for a side business

  • Specific: I will start a side business selling flowers from my garden.
  • Measurable: I’ll spend at least two hours daily planning and marketing my business.
  • Attainable: I used to sell home-grown vegetables, so I already have the equipment, knowledge, and reputation to get my business off the ground.
  • Relevant: I love growing plants and sharing them with others, plus it would earn me extra money.
  • Time-bound: I’ll start working on my marketing plans and growing my flowers to be ready for sale by July.

5. SMART goal example for increasing sales

  • Specific: I’ll learn new sales techniques to improve my work performance.
  • Measurable: My goal is to double my sales from their current rate. I’ll keep a log of my current sales that directly compares to my sales at this time last year so I know whether I’m on track.
  • Attainable: I’ve been a sales associate for two years now. I know the basics, and I’m ready to learn more.
  • Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills . This would put me in a better position for a promotion.
  • Time-bound: Tomorrow, I’ll start doing a LinkedIn webinar course on sales tactics, and I’ll implement them on Monday. I have four months to see results.

6. SMART goal for becoming a better leader at work

  • Specific: I’ll ensure my team members can count on me by becoming a better leader . I want them to trust me and enjoy working for me.
  • Measurable: I’ll survey my team members each week to compare how supported they feel. The standardized form will contain multiple-choice questions ranking satisfaction from one to five. In addition, I’ll include an open-ended section for nuanced feedback.
  • Attainable: I’ve been in this position for six months now, and I have management experience from my prior job.
  • Relevant: As our company grows, I want to ensure that I’m supporting my team so they can learn and grow, too. If I’m a better leader, everyone’s work will become easier and more efficient.
  • Time-bound: I’ll improve my average scores on each metric by 2 points by the end of this quarter. This will ensure I’m a better leader when the company takes on new projects and hires more staff.

7. SMART goal for establishing better communication at work

  • Specific: I’ll help my remote team communicate more effectively to streamline workflow.
  • Measurable: I’ll use Slack channels to organize team communication , monitor how often they’re used, and track team productivity .
  • Attainable: We are all tech-savvy and understand that communication skills are essential for a team , so I’d like to strengthen those abilities.
  • Relevant: Our company will remain remote for the foreseeable future, so we need to get better at communicating entirely online with one another.
  • Time-bound: I will send Slack invites to everyone tomorrow morning. In a month, I’ll ask everyone how they feel about team communication and review my metrics.


8. SMART goal for improving emotional regulation

  • Specific: I will gain better control over my emotions and feel calmer.
  • Measurable: I’ll write in my journal each night and rate my mood. Every Friday, I’ll review my feelings and thoughts from the week.
  • Attainable: Journaling is free, easy, and takes little time. I’ve been working on mindfulness , so I know I have the awareness to track my emotions.
  • Relevant: I’ve started seeing a therapist, and they have encouraged me to set goals related to my well-being.
  • Time-bound: I’m getting my degree and entering the workforce in three months. I want to improve my mood and stress tolerance before then to prepare for my new position.

9. SMART goal for waking up earlier

  • Specific: I want to wake up earlier to have more time for my morning routine.
  • Measurable: I’ll track how many times I snooze my alarm and when I finish my morning routine.
  • Attainable: My schedule allows me to go to sleep early , so I can still maintain at least eight hours of sleep.
  • Relevant: I feel rushed trying to get to work each day. Developing better sleep hygiene would help me feel calm.
  • Time-bound: In four weeks, I want to wake up two hours earlier than when I usually wake up now.

10. SMART goal of learning French

  • Specific: I want to learn how to have conversations in French to better communicate with my fiancée’s relatives.
  • Measurable: I’ll use a daily language-learning app to hold me accountable and track my progress.
  • Attainable: I know French speakers that I can practice with.
  • Relevant: I can’t communicate with my in-laws very well now since they only speak French, and I’d like to deepen our relationship.
  • Time-bound: I want to be able to hold a conversation in French in a year, in time for my wedding day.

Some people struggle with goal setting , and that’s okay. Take comfort in knowing this is a skill you can grow. Your first goal might not be detailed enough, or your measurement system may prove inadequate. Even an objective that doesn’t meet all the SMART criteria is still a learning opportunity.

Each time you set a goal, you’ll learn what practices work best for you and which ones to avoid.


Here are eight tips for using the SMART goal-setting framework:

  • Keep it simple: You may struggle to make large-scale or long-term goals specific enough to fit into this framework. For example, a career change or lifestyle shift may be too nebulous to tackle all at once. If your goals feel too big, break them into more achievable short-term goals to keep you moving forward.
  • Treat yourself: Sometimes, you’ll need more than just the satisfaction of a job well done. Reward yourself as you reach milestones, giving you something to look forward to.
  • Goals aren’t one-size-fits-all: The same metrics, time constraints, and motivations may not work for every goal you set. Welcome a different approach for work, personal, and health goals .
  • Ask yourself why: Before you set off on any significant goal, take time to introspect. If your Relevant statement is “because I want to” or “because I should,” step back and reevaluate. Determine what you hope to gain, and you’ll learn how to better motivate yourself .
  • Know your limits: To set attainable goals, make sure they fit your abilities and values. If a task is far outside your range of capabilities, it might be a good idea to set smaller goals along the way. 
  • Write it down: Ambitions won’t become a reality if they stay in your head. Writing out each of the SMART statements reminds you of why you’re working so hard. In addition, write out your time frame in a calendar or planner to track progress and minimize procrastination.
  • Stay flexible: No plan is perfect. It may become evident that your initial trajectory won’t lead to a successful outcome, and staying the course would only mean wasted effort. Don’t be afraid to adjust or reset your action plan if things aren’t working out.
  • Learn from setbacks: Obstacles provide an opportunity to learn and grow. Take time to evaluate what went wrong so you can become even more effective. But know when to move on. Once you’ve learned from your struggle, don’t continue to dwell on it.

Hopefully these SMART goal examples have inspired you to try setting some goals of your own. After all, measuring your goals provides a clear path to achieving them. It’s hard to gauge progress without metrics. If you can’t tell whether you’re on the right track, you won’t know if and when you need to course-correct.

Closely tracking your goals also helps you manage your energy . They can show you when you’re tired and need a break or when your motivation typically spikes.

SMART objectives support your future self. Just remember: all progress is progress. If you’re struggling to measure something abstract, such as being kinder to those around you, that’s normal. Regularly check in with yourself to see if you feel like you’ve grown, and be proud of yourself for trying.

Madeline Miles

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelor's in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, she's usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

Get SMART about your goals at work and start seeing results

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Article • 12 min read


How to Make Your Goals Achievable

By the Mind Tools Content Team

Key Takeaways

  • SMART goals are S pecific, M easurable, A chievable, R elevant, and T ime-bound.
  • They allow you to write goals that are clear, attainable and meaningful.
  • Having clarity in your goal-setting provides the motivation and focus you need to be successful.
The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.– Bill Copeland

Do you ever feel like you're working hard but not getting anywhere? Maybe you see little improvement in your skills or achievements when you reflect on the last five or 10 years. Or perhaps you struggle to see how you'll fulfill your ambitions during the next few years.

Many people spend their lives drifting from one job to another, or rushing around trying to get more done while actually accomplishing very little. Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life.

In this article, we'll explore what SMART goals are, and we'll look at how you can use them to achieve your objectives.

Learn how to set SMART goals with our video and transcript .

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym that you can use to guide your goal setting. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • S pecific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • M easurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • A chievable (agreed, attainable).
  • R elevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • T ime bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Its criteria are commonly attributed to Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives concept. The first-known use of the term was in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Later, Professor Robert S. Rubin (Saint Louis University) wrote about SMART in an article for The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He stated that SMART has come to mean different things to different people, as shown above.

Professor Rubin also noted that the definition of the SMART acronym may need updating to reflect the importance of efficacy and feedback. However, some authors have expanded it to include extra focus areas; SMARTER, for example, includes E valuated and R eviewed.

What Are the SMART Criteria?

SMART Criteria

How to Write a SMART Goal

Paul J. Meyer, businessman, author and founder of Success Motivation International , describes the characteristics of SMART goals in his 2003 book, " Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond ." We'll expand on his definitions to explore how to create, develop and achieve your goals:

1. Specific

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Imagine that you are currently a marketing executive, and you'd like to become head of marketing. A specific goal could be, "I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of marketing within my organization, so that I can build my career and lead a successful team."

2. Measurable

It's important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to become head of marketing by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within five years' time.

3. Achievable

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:

  • How can I accomplish this goal?
  • How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

You might need to ask yourself whether developing the skills required to become head of marketing is realistic, based on your existing experience and qualifications. For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively? Are the necessary resources available to you? Can you afford to do it?

Beware of setting goals that someone else has power over. For example, "Get that promotion!" depends on who else applies, and on the recruiter's decision. But "Get the experience and training that I need to be considered for that promotion" is entirely down to you.

4. Relevant

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it's important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you're still responsible for achieving your own goal.

A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:

  • Does this seem worthwhile?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Does this match our other efforts/needs?
  • Am I the right person to reach this goal?
  • Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?

You might want to gain the skills to become head of marketing within your organization, but is it the right time to undertake the required training, or work toward additional qualifications? Are you sure that you're the right person for the head of marketing role? Have you considered your partner's goals? For example, if you want to start a family, would completing training in your free time make this more difficult?

5. Time-bound

Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:

  • What can I do six months from now?
  • What can I do six weeks from now?
  • What can I do today?

Gaining the skills to become head of marketing may require additional training or experience, as we mentioned earlier. How long will it take you to acquire these skills? Do you need further training, so that you're eligible for certain exams or qualifications? It's important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

Used with Permission from The Meyer Resource Group,® Inc.

The Pros and Cons of SMART Goals

SMART is an effective tool that provides the clarity, focus and motivation you need to achieve your goals. It can also improve your ability to reach them by encouraging you to define your objectives and set a completion date. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.

Various interpretations of SMART have meant that it can lose its effectiveness or be misunderstood. Some people believe that SMART doesn't work well for long-term goals because it lacks flexibility, while others suggest that it might stifle creativity. For more information on the potential weaknesses of SMART, see our article, Locke's Goal-Setting Theory .

Frequently Asked Questions About SMART Goals

What does smart stand for.

SMART stands for S pecific,  M easurable,  A chievable,  R elevant, and  T ime-bound.

What about SMARTER goals?

In this expanded acronym, the E stands for Evaluated, and the R for Reviewed.

Who invented SMART goals?

The SMART goals concept is commonly attributed to Peter Drucker, author of Management by Objectives . The first-known use of the term was in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran.

What’s an example of a SMART goal?

Let’s say you’re a marketing executive, and you think you'd like to become head of marketing. This is a specific goal. You might measure your goal of gaining the skills to become head of marketing by deciding it will take five years. Ask yourself whether gaining these skills is achievable , based on your existing experience and qualifications. Are you at the right point in your career? Is it relevant to what you want? Give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

How do I write a SMART goal plan?

  • Start by asking exactly what you need to accomplish. This will make your goal specific.
  • Quantify your goals. Measurable goals are easier to track, so build in milestones.
  • Your goal should be achievable. Is this something you can do with the resources at your disposal?
  • Think why you’re setting this goal. How will it improve your life or career? This is what makes it relevant.
  • Know exactly when you’ll have reached your goal. Have a firm schedule, and stick to it.

For other goal-setting resources, see our articles, Golden Rules of Goal-Setting , Using Well-Formed Outcomes in Goal Setting , Personal Goal Setting , and Treasure Mapping .

  • SMART is a well-established tool that you can use to plan and achieve your goals.
  • While there are a number of interpretations of the acronym's meaning, the most common one is that goals should be S pecific, M easurable, A chievable, R elevant, and T ime-bound.
  • When you use SMART, you can create clear, attainable and meaningful goals, and develop the motivation, action plan, and support needed to achieve them.

Rubin, R. (2002). Will the Real SMART Goals Please Stand Up? [online]. Available here . [Accessed January 27, 2016.]

Meyer, Paul J. (2003). " Attitude Is Everything: If You Want to Succeed Above and Beyond ." Waco, TX: Meyer Resource Group.

Haughey, D. (2014). A Brief History of SMART Goals [online]. Available here . [Accessed January 27, 2016.]

Smart Goals Guide, (2014). Why Goal Setting Is Important [online]. Available here . [Accessed January 27, 2016.]

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  • What are SMART goals? Examples and temp ...

What are SMART goals? Examples and templates

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Vague goals that lack clarity are often left undone, even if they have great potential. Transform fuzzy objectives into attainable goals with the SMART goals framework. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. In this article, we'll dive into why each element of the SMART goals acronym is essential and how to apply them to your own goals.

But hitting an ambitious goal isn’t just about reaching for the stars—you also need a path to get there. That’s where SMART goal setting comes in. With SMART, you can make sure every goal—from project goals all the way to larger company objectives—has everything you need to achieve it. Here’s how.

What are SMART goals?

So, what are SMART goals? Fundamentally, SMART goals are a way of setting objectives that are clear, trackable, and achievable. The SMART goals acronym stands for five crucial qualities your goals should have: 



When you're deliberating the meaning of SMART goals, think of them as a tool to transform lofty resolutions into a concrete roadmap. The SMART goals acronym can help you build a blueprint for success in personal and professional settings alike.

[Inline illustration] SMART goals (Infographic)

How to write SMART goals

Writing SMART goals is all about breaking down your objectives into smaller, more manageable components that are easy to track and achieve. Here's a simple step-by-step guide to make the goal-setting process a breeze.

Keep in mind that you’re setting your SMART goal to attain a specific objective—not a broad one. You don’t just want any initiative to succeed; you want your specific project to succeed. To make sure you can achieve them, make sure your goals are specific to what you’re working on.

For example, instead of creating a goal to raise more money, you might create a goal to raise $20,000 by the end of the year. This is much more specific and gives you a roadmap to work off of. In this case, you can break down how much you need to raise each day to hit your goal and then create an action plan that enables you to hit that number every day.

The “M” in SMART stands for measurable, which helps you evaluate the success or failure of your project. Your goals should have some sort of objective way to measure them—whether that’s a deadline, a number, a percent change, or some other measurable element.

One way to do this is with benchmarks. Benchmarks show you what’s “normal” for specific, recurring scenarios in your company, so you know what to expect. Using standardized benchmarks, you can set more relevant goals that are easier to measure. For example, let’s say you have a benchmark showing that you have three new marketing campaigns each year to help you hit key performance indicators . You can then use that benchmark to set measurable goals to track progress for both the launches and their related KPIs.

You don’t want your goals to be easy to achieve, but you also want to make sure you’re setting goals that you could, conceivably, hit. Achievable says that your goals shouldn't be totally outside the realm of possibility. Ask yourself this question: Is the goal within your project scope ? If not, it’s not Achievable.

For example, let’s say you want to learn to speak Spanish in order to be competitive in your field. If you’ve never spoken a word of Spanish before, you can’t expect to be fluent by next month. That simply isn’t an achievable goal. However, you could set a goal to learn from your foreign language app for 20 minutes every day. By establishing a consistent practice, you can set a more achievable goal.

What about stretch goals—are those achievable?

Stretch goals are goals that are purposefully challenging. For example, if you usually get 30,000 monthly visitors to your website, a stretch goal would be to get 50,000 monthly visitors. That’s a big increase! But this stretch goal is still within the realm of possibility. Make sure you make your stretch goals ambitious, not impossible—like aiming to go from 30,000 monthly visitors to 300,000 monthly visitors, for example.

The “A” and “R” of SMART are closely related. In addition to setting attainable goals, you also want to set Realistic ones. For example, maybe a goal is achievable, but getting there would require every team member to work overtime for six weeks straight. Even though it might be an achievable goal, it’s not a realistic one. Make sure yours is both by creating a clear resource management plan .

Using our attainable goal example of learning to speak Spanish, the goal of setting 20 minutes aside each day to practice Spanish is both realistic and achievable. On the other hand, a goal to practice speaking Spanish for two hours every day is probably not realistic for most working adults, even though it’s technically achievable.

Your SMART goal should have an end date. Without a time limit, your project could drag on, have unclear success metrics , and suffer from scope creep . Deadlines provide a sense of urgency so that short-term tasks don’t drag into long-term goals unnecessarily. If you haven’t already, make sure you outline a clear project timeline .

Deadlines are crucial to implementing goals, since they pretty much force you to take action. If you want to have more focus time at work, you can decide to set a goal to only check your email for 30 minutes every day. But without a deadline, it’s easy to brush it off. Imagine instead if you set a goal to only check your email for 30 minutes every day for one week—now, it starts to feel more attainable.

SMART goals pros and cons

Making sure your important goals have all of the SMART components might be more time-consuming than setting regular goals, but the value you get from SMART goals outweighs the additional time spent on the goal-setting process. Goals shouldn’t be something you set and forget—they’re a key part of your project planning process. When setting SMART goals, here’s what you and your team can expect.

Pros of SMART goals

Clear communication and alignment. When your project team knows exactly what they’re working towards, they’re more motivated and aligned as a team. Team members who know how their individual work contributes to broader company goals are 2X as motivated as their counterparts. Setting and sharing SMART goals can help you boost your entire team’s motivation.

Clarity towards project success. Have you ever gotten to the end of a project and not really known if you hit your project goals or not? SMART goals help you set clear goals, so you can avoid vague or confusing goal language.

Clear roadmap and finish line. With SMART goals, you know exactly what you want to achieve and when you expect to achieve it. You’ve verified that these goals are realistic and achievable. And you know you’ll be able to measure them to see if you hit them or not.

Trackable metrics. When you finish your project, SMART goals help you evaluate its success. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve it. In fact, at Asana, we aim to hit about 70% of our goals. That way, we know we’re setting challenging—but possible—goals. Whether you hit your goal or not, SMART goals can help you evaluate your goal, and you can learn from that.

Effective resource allocation. SMART goals make it easier for managers to distribute necessary resources efficiently, whether that's staff, budget, or even time.

Motivation and career development. When goals are achievable and relevant, it boosts team morale. It also creates opportunities for individual career development, as team members may need to acquire a new skill to meet their objectives.

Cons of SMART Goals

Oversimplification. Although the SMART goal framework can be incredibly effective for clarifying objectives, it may also lead to the oversimplification of more intricate, multilayered goals. If your goal is complicated, consider breaking it down into smaller sub-goals before using the SMART framework.

Short-term focus. The emphasis on time-based objectives might discourage more visionary planning, especially around the long-term mission of your business. If this applies to your situation, try creating a vision statement instead. 

Potential to hinder creativity. SMART goals can box you in. Their strict guidelines make you zero in on specific tasks, leaving little room for unexpected, game-changing ideas.

Possibility for a narrow focus. Adopting a SMART objectives approach could lead to tunnel vision, causing team members to lose sight of the organization's broader strategic goals. To avoid this, make sure to connect your SMART goals back to larger organizational objectives —so it’s clear why they matter and how they’re contributing to business success. 

Resource intensive. Smaller teams might feel a bit overwhelmed by the need for measurable outcomes. This is because tracking those metrics often requires investing time and money in specialized analytics tools. 

5 SMART goals examples

Ready to get started? Before you write your own, take a look at these five examples of SMART goals to see how each one aligns with the SMART criteria.

1.  Business goal

Example: Produce at least three different types of large-scale marketing assets (e.g. ebook, webinar, videos, sales one- or two-pagers) per month for Q1.

Why it’s SMART: This business goal is specific (large-scale marketing assets) , measurable (three different types) , achievable and realistic (this depends on how many project team members there are, but we can assume there are enough to cover the three assets per month), and time-bound (per month for Q1) .

2. Team goal

Example: The product team will partner on five cross-functional projects focused on usability testing, customer surveys, customer marketing, or research and development during the first half of FY22.

Why it’s SMART: This goal is specific (projects focused on usability testing, customer surveys, customer marketing, or research and development) , measurable (five cross-functional projects) , achievable (five projects in six months), realistic (the project spans the entire product team), and time-bound (during the first half of FY22) .

3. Professional goal

Example: During 2021, I will develop my management skills through mentorship, with at least two mentees from either our company Employee Resource Groups or my alumni network.

Why it’s SMART: This goal is specific (management skills through mentorship) , measurable (at least two mentees) , achievable and realistic (this person has given themselves two different avenues through which to find mentees), and time-bound (during 2021) .

4. Personal goal

Example: I will train to run the March San Diego half marathon in less than two hours.

Why it’s SMART: This goal is specific (San Diego half marathon) , measurable (in less than two hours) , achievable (two hours is an ambitious but doable pace for most runners with proper training), realistic (this person has established they will train in preparation for the half marathon), and time-bound (March) .

5. Nonprofit goal

Example: We will provide 100 hours of free tutoring for middle school students in math and history during the month of February.

Why it’s SMART: This goal is specific (tutoring for middle school students in math and history) , measurable (100 hours) , achievable and realistic (depending on the amount of volunteers the nonprofit has), and time-bound (during the month of February) .

6 steps to make your goal SMART

When you’re ready to set your own SMART goal, kick things off by jotting down your project objective in a sentence or two. Then fine-tune it with each of the five SMART attributes. 

To make the goal-setting process smoother, you can use this SMART goals template to get some hands-on practice in setting your SMART objectives.

1. Initial goal:   Write down whatever your initial goal is. Don’t worry about it not being completely SMART—we’ll get to that later in the template.

Example: I want to improve our company brand on social media.

2. Make it Specific:   Does your goal define exactly what you want to do? If not, re-work the language to make it specific to your particular project.

Example, continued: Improve our company brand on Instagram with company-specific hashtags.

3. Make it Measurable:   Have you established how you’ll measure your goal once your project is complete? If not, add a way to measure success or failure at the end of your project.

Example, continued: Develop company-specific hashtags to generate 1,000 new Instagram followers.

4. Make it Achievable:   Is your goal something you can achieve, given your project scope? Make sure this specific goal falls within your project capabilities.

Example, continued: Develop and use company-specific hashtags, in conjunction with popular hashtags in our industry, to generate 1,000 new Instagram followers.

5. Make it Realistic:   Can your project team reasonably hit your goal? Even if it’s a stretch goal, make sure this is something you can accomplish with your resources.

Example, continued: Post once daily on Instagram, and ensure every post has a mixture of company-specific hashtags and popular hashtags in our industry in order to generate 1,000 new Instagram followers.

6. Make it Time-bound:   When will you achieve your goal? Make sure you clarify your target date or time frame in your SMART goal.

Example, continued: Post every workday on Instagram for the first half of FY22. Ensure every post has a mixture of company-specific hashtags and popular hashtags in our industry in order to generate 1,000 new Instagram followers by June 30th.

What to do after creating your SMART goals

Do you track your goals in emails, meetings, or spreadsheets? If so, you’re not alone. According to the Asana Goals Report , 53% of businesses track their goals via email, 36% track them in spreadsheets, and 31% track them in in-person meetings.

The challenge with tracking your goals is finding a way to connect your goals with your team’s daily work. You’ve taken all of this time to create a SMART goal—keeping it front of mind can help you make sure you achieve it. At Asana, we believe goals should be closely connected to the work they’re, well, connected to. Here’s how you can do that:

1. Share your SMART goals with project stakeholders and team members

At the start of the project, make sure you surface your SMART goals to everyone involved in the work. Your SMART goals should guide your whole team as you work on project deliverables, so you know exactly whether or not you hit your project objectives.

The best way to do that is with a work management tool like Asana. That way, your team has a central source of truth with all information in the same place—from your daily work all the way to your project’s goals. Instead of hiding your goals in docs, decks, and other hard-to-find places, connect them to your daily work so everyone is motivated, focused, and on the same page.

2. Check in on progress regularly

In addition to sharing your SMART goals with your team at the beginning of your project, make sure you periodically measure the progress you’ve made towards your goal. You don’t want to work on the project and then find, at the very end of the work, that you’ve missed your goals. You’ve worked hard to set specific, measurable goals for a reason—you can use them as your north star, and course correct during your project if necessary.

The best way to regularly check in on your SMART goals is to send weekly project status updates . Status updates are a great way for you to highlight the important work your team did, any upcoming milestones, and whether or not you’re on track.

3. Evaluate your success

SMART goals bring clarity to your goal-setting process—so you can gauge exactly whether or not you hit your project goals. If you did, it’s time to celebrate! And even if you didn’t, having such clear goals—and checking in on your goals regularly—can help you best identify what went wrong and where you can do better next time.

Remember, not hitting your goals doesn’t mean your project was a total failure. You may have purposefully set a stretch goal to challenge yourself or your team. Even if you didn’t set a stretch goal, it’s more important to calmly evaluate why you missed your target rather than pretend it didn’t happen. That way, you can learn from your mistakes and bring those learnings with you the next time you set SMART goals.

Set smarter goals

SMART goals can help your team succeed by bringing clarity into the goal-setting and project management processes. When your team has clarity and is moving in the same direction, they’re more likely to be motivated and to know what work to prioritize.

Visualizing and tracking your goals both makes them easier to measure and achieve. In Asana, you can set, track, and report on your SMART goals all in one space. With the ability to connect with everyone on your team and share with stakeholders, you can coordinate everything you need to achieve your most ambitious goals.


What does the smart goals acronym stand for.

The SMART goals acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. George T. Doran popularized this framework, which offers a methodical approach to setting goal-specific objectives. By following the SMART acronym, you're more likely to set specific goals that are both effective and achievable.

What are the 5 SMART goals

The 5 SMART goals refer to the five criteria that any SMART objective should meet. These are:

Specific: Clearly defined objectives that spell out what you aim to achieve.

Measurable: Quantifiable goals that allow you to track your progress.

Attainable: Goals that are challenging yet achievable, ensuring you're not setting yourself up for failure.

Relevant: Objectives that align with your broader aims and values.

Time-bound: Goals that come with a deadline promote effective time management.

How do I write a SMART goal?

To write a SMART goal, begin by defining what you specifically want to accomplish. Next, determine how you'll measure success and ensure that your objective is attainable. Make sure the goal is relevant to your broader life or career ambitions. Finally, add a timeframe to create a sense of urgency. A well-crafted SMART goal might look like this: "I want to increase my LinkedIn network by 200 connections within the next three months."

What are the best SMART goals?

The best SMART goals are those that are closely aligned with your own or your organization's broader aims, serving as stepping stones toward your ultimate goal. They should challenge you while still being achievable. These goals should be easily measurable and promote effective time management, allowing you to allocate resources wisely. For example, if career development is a priority, an excellent SMART goal could be "to complete an advanced course in digital marketing within the next six months."

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SMART Goals Examples

10 Smart Goal Examples (and How to Use Them)

You can’t beat the feeling of achieving a hard-earned goal. But no matter how fulfilling the payoff is, it’s often not enough to push us past our comfort zone to cross the finish line. Often, we need some help keeping ourselves and our teams focused, efficient, and motivated.

This is where SMART goals come in. With the SMART goal framework, you can set meaningful goals and track your progress toward completing them. Let’s take a look at the framework, how to use it, and some examples and tips to help you make and nail your own SMART goals.

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What are SMART goals?

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SMART goals are a methodology for setting goals in a structured, well-defined, and actionable way. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific. What is it exactly that you’re trying to achieve?
  • Measurable. What things will change to tell you that you’ve achieved the goal?
  • Attainable. Is it a reasonable, achievable goal, or is it too much to pull off?
  • Relevant. How does it tie into the “bigger picture” of what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s business or life goals?
  • Time-bound. What day and/or time will you achieve the goal by?

The origin of the SMART framework

The SMART framework was created by consultant and corporate planning director George T. Doran . It was first published in a 1981 issue of the journal Management Review to help write management goals and objectives in a better way.

It’s been adapted over time—you can see this by the fact that his original SMART acronym was slightly different from the one we’re using. (Doran’s was Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound.)

How to write SMART goals

Let’s look at some fundamentals as you set your SMART objectives. We’ll break them down based on each of the five elements.

Specific. Be as granular as possible in describing exactly what it is you want to do, instead of vague language that’s hard to track and measure. For example, instead of saying “Get more sales,” try something more specific, like “Increase revenue by 50% by the end of the year.”

Measurable. Outline how you’ll be sure you’ve achieved the goal, using numbers or milestones if possible. In the example above, you could keep the milestone at a 50% increase, or you can use the specific dollar amount that the extra 50% would bring you to, like $100,000. Some milestone examples that meet the smart criteria include getting a certification, submitting a competition entry, or building a functional prototype.

Attainable. Make sure it’s a reasonable, achievable goal within the timeline you set. For example, if there are only 2 months left in the year, it’s probably going to be unrealistic to increase your revenue by that much. You should always dream big, but keep those big dreams in a place where you can reach them.

Relevant. Think about how this smaller goal ties into the “bigger picture,” whether you’re working toward business or life goals. In this example, an increase in revenue is almost always aligned with a long-term goal of many businesses, which is to keep growing and becoming more profitable.

Time-bound. Choose a target date or deadline to keep you motivated and able to track progress. In our example, the deadline is the end of the year. We know what needs to be done in the interim, which helps us to further break the task down into smaller actionable steps.

10 examples of SMART goals

always be learning

Now that you understand what they are and how to write them, let’s look at some SMART goal examples to inspire you.

These 10 SMART goal-setting examples showcase how you can create powerful personal, business, work, and leadership goals.

1. SMART goal for getting fit

I’m going to follow the Nike app training program to run a marathon without stopping, six months from now.


  • Specific: I’m going to start running daily and train for a marathon.
  • Measurable: I will follow the Nike app training program to run a full marathon without stopping.
  • Achievable: I have done some running before, my body is reasonably healthy, and the marathon is six months from now.
  • Relevant: I want to become a fit, healthy, and strong person—I want to be full of vitality, energy, and zest for life.
  • Time-bound: I have signed up for a marathon six months from now.

2. SMART goal for completing a personal project

I’m going to write a 60,000-word novel in six months, finishing on June 30. I will do this by writing 2,500 words per week.

  • Specific: I’m going to write a 60,000-word sci-fi novel.
  • Measurable: I will finish writing 60,000 words in six months.
  • Achievable: I will write 2,500 words per week.
  • Relevant: I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional writer.
  • Time-bound: I will start writing tomorrow, January 1, and finish June 30.

3. SMART goal for improving relationships

I will call David, Sarah, and Mom twice per week for three months to develop my relationships with them.

  • Specific: I will develop my relationships with David, Sarah, and Mom.
  • Measurable: I will call each of these people twice per week.
  • Achievable: I talk to these people regularly, and we always say how it would be nice to talk more.
  • Relevant: I want to deepen my social ties, feel more loved and supported in my life, and support those I love.
  • Time-bound: I will stick to this plan for three months, then re-evaluate and plan my next steps.

4. SMART goal example for starting a business

I will start a dropshipping business with Shopify on Saturday. I will spend one hour on this business each day and work to land my first sale within two weeks.

  • Specific: I will start a dropshipping business .
  • Measurable: I will work on my business for one hour each day, and the goal is to land my first sale within two weeks.
  • Achievable: I have watched some videos on dropshipping and know that I can use Shopify to start a business quickly .
  • Relevant: I want to quit my job, work from home, and be my own boss .
  • Time-bound: I will begin on Saturday and land my first sale within two weeks.

5. SMART goal example for marketing a business

I will begin a Facebook Ads course tomorrow and start investing 30% of my business profits into paid campaigns within one week. I will continue to learn and invest in Facebook Ads to double my sales within three months.

  • Specific: I’m going to learn how to use Facebook Ads and invest 30% of my profits into this marketing channel.
  • Measurable: The goal is to double my sales within three months.
  • Achievable: I have a reasonably successful small business that is ready to handle a growth in sales.
  • Relevant: I want to make six-figures per year working from home.
  • Time-bound: I will start a Facebook Ads course tomorrow and start running paid campaigns within one week. Then, I’ll continue to learn and scale-up, and evaluate my results in three months.

6. SMART goal example for growing a business

I will hire a VA to manage customer service inquiries within two weeks to free up time. I’ll use this time to research and add five new products to my store before the end of the month.

  • Specific: I’m going to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to manage customer service inquiries for me. That way, I can free up time to conduct product research and add new products to my store.
  • Measurable: The goal is to hire a VA and add five new products to my store.
  • Achievable: I have some experience hiring freelancers on Upwork, and I understand how to find winning products .
  • Relevant: I aim to work on my business, not in my business so that I can grow my income and work less hours.
  • Time-bound: I will hire a VA within two weeks and then add five new products to my store within one month.

7. SMART goal example for landing a dream job

I will land my dream job working for a SaaS company like Shopify and travel long-term as a digital nomad. To achieve this, I will apply to one job per week for two months—submitting a total of eight job applications.

  • Specific: I’m going to become a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist for a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) company like Shopify and work remotely.
  • Measurable: I will apply to a minimum of eight job applications within two months.
  • Achievable: I’ve worked as an SEO specialist for two years in an office for an accounting firm, and I’m good at my job.
  • Relevant: I want to collaborate with interesting people, contribute to something innovative, and join a company with room for me to grow. Also, I want to travel long term as a digital nomad .
  • Time-bound: I will apply to eight suitable job applications within two months by submitting one application per week.

8. SMART goal example for earning a promotion

I’m going to land a promotion to become a senior SEO specialist at my company. I will do this by taking on an additional work project within two weeks, completing the required training within six weeks, and submitting my application within eight weeks.

  • Specific: I’m going to earn a promotion and become a senior SEO specialist.
  • Measurable: I will complete the required training and submit my application. I will also take on an additional work project to demonstrate my readiness to shoulder more responsibility.
  • Achievable: I’ve worked as an SEO specialist for three years, and my work has produced significant results. Also, my company is looking to take on another senior SEO specialist at the end of this quarter.
  • Relevant: I want to keep learning and challenging myself as I progress in my career.
  • Time-bound: I will take on one additional work project within the next two weeks, complete the required training within six weeks, and submit my application within eight weeks.

9. SMART goal example for improving team results

I will lead my team to improve our qualification process so that the team only calls high qualified leads that are likely to purchase. We aim to increase sales by 5% within three months.

  • Specific: I’m going to help my team qualify sales leads better, so they only spend their time selling to people who are likely to purchase.
  • Measurable: The goal is to increase the team’s sales by 5%.
  • Achievable: We’ve identified the top reason our leads don’t purchase: they don’t fully match our target market . If we can ensure everyone we call matches our target market, our sales will likely increase.
  • Relevant: Our core aim is to grow company sales by more than 20% this year.
  • Time-bound: We aim to increase sales by 5% within three months before re-evaluating our strategy.

10. SMART goal example for managing a team

I will improve team communication and free up wasted time by implementing a team messaging solution within two weeks. The aim is to cut the time spent on messaging from an average of 1.5 hours to 45 minutes per day per team member within onbe month.

  • Specific: I’m going to help the team communicate better to free up time wasted on communication inefficiencies. This way, the team can spend this time on their core responsibilities instead.
  • Measurable: Our time-tracking software shows that team members spend an average of 1.5 hours per day on email. We aim to cut this time in half to 45 minutes per day.
  • Achievable: We can avoid the confusion created by long email chains with a team messaging solution like Slack. If we implement a messaging solution, it’s plausible that we can drastically reduce the time spent on email.
  • Relevant: I want to empower my team to produce their best work and increase their impact by reducing time wasted on unnecessary and inefficient tasks.
  • Time-bound : We will implement a messaging solution within two weeks and half the time spent on communication within the next month

5 tips for using SMART goals

Sprecific smart goals

1. Break larger goals into smaller ones

If your goal feels overwhelming, or if you feel like there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, break it down into smaller goals. This way, you’ll be able to move through the process in a linear way, clearing out any dependencies that are getting in the way of advancing.

2. Share with everyone involved

Naturally, you’ll share your SMART goals with anyone who’s directly involved in making them happen. But you might also consider sharing with others who are involved, but not necessarily in a direct way. These third parties can help keep you accountable and motivated, and you’ll all be on the same page.

3. Physically write them down

If you keep the goal in your head, the odds dramatically increase that you might forget or unintentionally move the target. By writing them down, you’re ensuring that they stay crystal clear. Try putting your goal somewhere noticeable, like a sticky note on your desk or a calendar alert as you hit critical milestones.

4. Pivot or tweak as needed

As with many things in life, it might not work out as you planned. (It’s practically a guarantee that this will happen eventually.) When roadblocks or changes come up, keep a flexible and creative mindset so you can roll with the punches. Think about how you can make adjustments while still keeping the main objective intact.

5. Failure is OK—learn from it

Building off the previous point: sometimes, staying flexible isn’t enough. Don’t be deterred by failure. It’s a natural part of life, and even the world’s most successful people have plenty of failures that taught them valuable lessons to get where they are now.

Leading with your own smart goal

If you’re struggling to meet your goals, or looking for an interesting new way to frame them, SMART goal setting might be right up your alley. When you follow each of the five steps, you’ll have a clear and straightforward path to work toward. You’ll also be able to better coordinate and collaborate with others, whether they’re your team, stakeholders, or friends and family.

Want to learn more?

  • How to Improve Yourself: 20 Practical Self-Improvement Tips
  • 10 Benefits of Reading Books: Why You Should Read Every Day
  • How to Motivate Yourself: 20 Ways to Find Motivation
  • 11 Best Motivational Podcasts That Will Unleash Your Potential

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How to Write SMART Goals: SMART Goal Examples


While it’s always a good idea to put together project goals, the approach that you take to do so is important. Simply choosing goals because you think you should or those that are particularly difficult to track and measure don’t do a good job of keeping you on track throughout the project. This is why SMART goals are so effective.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is a mnemonic acronym that establishes criteria for ideal goals and objectives in a project . SMART stands for specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related. This means that a goal must meet these criteria to be considered a SMART goal.

SMART goals help project managers, business managers and any other types of team leaders define clear objectives that should be accomplished by their teams. Best of all, SMART goals can be used to measure the effectiveness of virtually any project or task.

Within that simple set of criteria is a guide to help teams be more productive, while always keeping goals in mind. Without goals, there is no focus, and without focus the chance of successfully completing a project is slim.

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SMART Goals Template

Use this free SMART Goals Template for Word to manage your projects better.

How to Write SMART Goals

Now that SMART is clearly defined, how do you write SMART goals? Well, it should be obvious now that the process starts with asking a lot of questions. Pose questions to yourself, your team and even stakeholders . The answers to these questions will whittle down your options and sharpen your strategy. From there, goals will become clear and attainable.

1. Make Your Goal Specific

Begin by defining what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Be specific. Ask the five Ws: who, what, why, where and which. For example:

  • Who is going to be involved in achieving this goal?
  • What project management tools will they need to accomplish it?
  • Why is the goal important?
  • Where will the work be located?
  • Which resources are needed to do it?

The more you can focus on the specifics, the more achievable the goal.

2. Make Your Goal Measurable

In order for a goal to be SMART, it must be measurable, and to track your progress toward your goal, you have to know how to measure it. That keeps you on track and motivates you to finish on time. So, in order to be successful, you need to regularly monitor and assess your progress.

Also, you have to know how to tell when you’ve reached that goal, so as not to waste time once it’s already been achieved. Basically, you must set up metrics to measure your progress.  Project milestones can help break up a timeline if a project extends over some months.

3. Make Your Goal Achievable

There’s no point in having and measuring a goal that’s impossible to achieve. Therefore, another criterion for a SMART goal is discerning if the goal you’ve defined is realistic. You want to reach beyond what you think is possible (because nothing is achieved by playing it safe), but not so far that the project comes crashing down on top of you.

You must know your project resources well, and ask if this goal can be accomplished considering the constraints under which you’re working, which include scheduling and costs.

4. Make Your Goal Relevant

The goal is now defined, measurable and achievable, but is it relevant? A SMART goal has to be relevant, and that doesn’t mean just to you but should be aligned with the larger goals of the organization.

That means your goal, even after meeting all the prior criteria, must align with other relevant goals because success requires support and assistance from everyone on the project team . It must work in tandem with other parts of the project and the overall strategy of the organization.

This creates a whole new set of questions such as, is the goal worthwhile? Maybe the time isn’t right. Does it match other needs? Maybe you’re not the right person to lead this initiative, or maybe it’s not aligned with current economics or social trends. If it offers the right answers to these questions, then it’s relevant.

5. Make Your Goal Time-Bound

A SMART goal will always be time-related because goals often cannot be achieved without a deadline. A deadline serves as a great motivator and can provide context for you to recognize the various tasks necessary to reach that goal in the time allotted. Therefore, giving the goal time constraints helps keep you on track.

Naturally, you must answer questions, such as: when must the goal be achieved? Then get more specific; is that in six months, six weeks, six days? Without a time frame, you can’t devise a plan , and the goal will never be realized.

Free SMART Goals Template

Ready to make your own SMART goals? Download this free SMART goals template for Word and then read through the examples below for some inspiration.

SMART Goals template for Word

5 SMART Goals Examples

It’s one thing to write about SMART goals and another thing to actually use them. That’s why we’re going to share five SMART goals examples to provide a fuller understanding of the concept.

1. Project Management SMART Goal Example

Scope creep is when more features are added to a project during the execution phase, which can have a negative impact on the project’s schedule and budget.

Specific: Speak with stakeholders and get them to give you all the requirements so that you’re not surprised down the line when they say they’ve forgotten something. Measurable: Be sure that each of the requirements they request can be measured. That is, each requirement should be tested and then checked off the list. Achievable: Look over the list of requirements. If some are not realistic then go back to the stakeholder and tell them why it’s not feasible considering the time and costs involved. Relevant: Again, look over the list of requirements you received from your stakeholders and make sure each is relevant to the product. If it’s not, it’s got to go. Time-related: Can the requirements requested be completed by the deadline? Will the requirement lead to overspending the budget ? Unless the requirement can be delivered on time and within budget it should be removed.

2. Business SMART Goal Example

Businesses are always trying to expand and add to their profits. One way to do this is by acquiring more clients.

Specific: Decide how many new clients to add to your business. One might not impact your bottom line and 100 will likely just lead to frustration. Find the number that’s right for your business. Measurable: Set up a metric to measure the success of your campaign to acquire new clients. This way you’ll be able to know if you’re in fact delivering on your goal or not. Achievable: Again, be realistic. How many resources can you allocate to this endeavor without negatively impacting your business? There’s a sweet spot and you want to hit it. Relevant: You’ll also want to make sure that the clients you’re wooing are a good fit for the business. If you partner with someone who isn’t it will not serve them or you. Time-related: Have a deadline, whether that’s adding x amount of new clients by the end of the quarter or the year. Then stick to it.

3. Manufacturing SMART Goal Example

A manufacturer wants to reduce breakdowns on their machines.

Specific: Decide if this is a factory-wide effort or if there are specific machines that are always breaking down and need special attention. Measurable: Have metrics to track machines’ performance to see if the measure used to reduce downtime due to mechanical failure is in fact working. Achievable: Maybe a factory-wide maintenance is unrealistic and will cut into production or perhaps you have the resources to address all machines on your production line. Determine what can be done without a negative impact on the business. Relevant: Look at the big picture and decide if a factory shutdown to replace or repair machines is necessary or if there can be a less disruptive approach, maybe over phases. Time-related: Define a project timeline . The last thing you want is to keep it open-ended.

4. Construction SMART Goal Example

A construction company has razor-thin profit margins because they budget projects with their profit included, but in executing the project they always end up spending more, which cuts into their profits.

Specific: Decide on what the goal is. It could be to find inefficiencies or to complete work faster. But whatever it is, make the goal specific. Measurable: Find the key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you track your projects and identify those areas that are underperforming. Then as you implement solutions, you can measure whether they’re in fact working. Achievable: Don’t create a goal that you can’t keep. Maybe you want to only gain 10 percent more profitability. Whatever is achievable should be your goal. Relevant: You might have to revise your goal as you determine what is relevant to your company. If you change the project estimates , for example, it might make you less competitive in the market. Time-related: Set a realistic timeframe for achieving your goals. You don’t want it to be too long nor should it be too short. Find the deadline that will allow you to make the effort without turning it into an impossible task.

5. Marketing SMART Goal Example

Let’s say I wanted to increase my content output in the marketing department of my business. I would write my SMART goal like this, “Frank and Caroline (the content team) will need to work together to create 3 more eBooks per month, for the next 6 months.”

Specific: This is an important project because eBooks can collect emails, creating warm leads. Frank and Caroline will collaborate using Google Docs. They can use Meeting Room B on Tuesdays and Thursdays before 10 am. Measurable: It’s easy to measure if 3 eBooks are created each month. They simply have to compile a short report and submit it to the manager with links to each of the 3 new eBooks. Achievable: This is an aggressive goal, given how much work goes into an eBook, but it’s certainly attainable. Relevant: I’ll ensure this project stays relevant by keeping the eBook content related to the business. As a safeguard, I’ll make sure that a product expert approves the eBook topic before Frank and Caroline begin writing it. Time-related: By requiring that all 3 eBooks are done by the end of the month, this goal is time-related. Additionally, my content team knows they have to do this for 6 months, so they know exactly how many eBooks they need to create.

Be Flexible With Your SMART Goals if Needed

All this information will combine to help you define and reach SMART goals. But, remember, the SMART criteria is not chiseled in stone. It can be flexible and is open to revision as needed. So, monitor and evaluate key metrics as your project progresses to make sure that the goal you set is in fact smart!

Turn Goals Into Action With ProjectManager

Defining your goals and objectives before starting a project is smart. Determining that those goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-related is SMARTer! Once you’re ready to take action, using a project management tool is the smartest. ProjectManager  is an award-winning software that helps turn your goals and objectives into a reality.

Lay It Out on a Gantt Chart

Use the Gantt tool to add a duration to each task—once done, our software will populate a timeline for the entire project. You can link dependent tasks to avoid bottlenecks. Add priority and other tags to make the tasks easy to search and find. Then break the project into phases, which makes it easier to track, by adding milestones.

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Track Your Progress with Reports

One-click reports get deeper into the data, which can be filtered and shared with stakeholders, who have a vested interest in seeing the project succeed. Smart goals and objectives need a smart project management tool.

Screenshot of the workload report in ProjectManager

To successfully use SMART as a method to d etermine the feasibility of your goals, you’ll need project management software that can help at every stage of your project. ProjectManager is an online tool that has planning, scheduling and reporting features that help managers create and complete SMART goals. See for yourself with this free 30-day trial.

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How to Set SMART Goals (+ Examples and Templates)

Last updated on: June 29, 2023

We all have goals — to be more successful in what we do, to enroll in a university, improve our skills — the list goes on. Goals are what sets thriving people apart from everyone else. 

As Norman Vincent Peale, an advocate of the positive thinking movement, once said:

“All successful people have a goal. No one can get anywhere unless he knows where he wants to go and what he wants to be or do.”

But are your goals always worth pursuing?

Are your goals always even possible to achieve?

Are your goals tangible?

Those are all difficult questions ⁠that often surpass our ability to answer in a straightforward, systematic, and logical way. 

Luckily, I’ll offer simple criteria you can use to determine the value of any goal — they’re called SMART goals. 

In this guide, I’ll also lay out the answers to the following questions:

  • What are SMART goals exactly,
  • How and when to set SMART goals, and
  • When SMART goals are not that smart.

As a bonus, I’ll give you a few SMART goal templates to use in your work and life and touch on how to write SMART goals you’ll stick to.

Let’s get rolling! 

SMART goals - cover

Table of Contents

What is a SMART goal?

The acronym SMART stands for 5 characteristics of a goal that you should consider to be able to achieve the goal successfully. Each characteristic is represented by 1 letter in the SMART abbreviation:

  • S stands for Specific — specific goals are straightforward, precise, and can be easily defined.
  • M stands for Measurable — measurable goals constitute points of reference you can use to assess whether you are successful in progressing toward or reaching the said goal.
  • A stands for Attainable — attainable goals are realistic in the sense that you have a reasonable amount of time, money, and skills to reach them.
  • R stands for Relevant — relevant goals hold particular importance in your life, the project you’re currently working on, or your business as a whole.
  • T stands for Time-bound — time-bound goals “bind” you with a specific time frame you’ll have to work on to call your efforts a success.

In other words, SMART goal setting helps you elaborate your aims and desires — and make an action plan. In fact, setting SMART goals increases the possibility of achieving your goal. 

Interestingly, SMART goals are also known as SMART criteria or SMART objectives, too. But no matter your SMART goals definition, don’t pass on this opportunity to make them part of your routine.

For an illustration of SMART goals, take a look at my example of cutting time for processing data in Excel below:

What does SMART stand for

How to write SMART goals?

By now, you might wonder, “ How do I write a SMART goal and how do I apply this framework to real-life scenarios? ” 

I’m glad you asked!

The application of SMART goals varies. In any case, you can use these criteria to decide whether your current career goals are worth pursuing or if working on particular areas of your personal development would be beneficial enough.

To help you wrap your head around the matter, here are 5 critical steps to follow on your SMART goals journey. Let’s get started!

Step #1: Make goals specific 

Specific goals are well-defined and precise enough so that you won’t steer away from achieving them. 

Let’s take a look at an example. 

If you say that you want to be in marketing, that’s a nonspecific goal.

It’s what you usually say to your extended family when you want them to stop bugging you about when you’ll get a job. Again, it sounds nice, and it may even impress your grandparents — but it’s too broad to motivate you to act on it. 

On the other hand, suppose you say you want to land the position of a Junior Marketing Specialist in a Boston tech company. Now, that’s a well-defined, specific goal you can strive for. 

Let’s look at a few prompts to use when crafting your SMART goals.

Questions for specific goals

If you want to make a goal specific, consider answering a few questions. You don’t have to answer all of them, but the more questions you answer, the more specific your goal gets. 

Here they are:

  • Q1: What is the goal?
  • Q2: What are the details of the goal?
  • Q3: What do I want to accomplish with it?
  • Q4: Who is involved?
  • Q5: Where is it going to happen?
  • Q6: What resources are available?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is specific :

  • A1: I want to land a Junior Marketing Specialist position.
  • A2: I want to apply for 10 job calls each week during the month. At this rate, I’ll land a job faster.
  • A3: I want to feel financially stable, enjoy my work more, and generally feel better about myself.
  • A4: I’m the chief person responsible for getting the job. Still, I’ll also talk to a few mentors and industry peers to learn how to land a good position.
  • A5: I’ll spend a bit more time online, researching and applying for jobs. I’ll look at job boards and create my own portfolio website.
  • A6: I’ll have advice from my mentors and the network I’ve established over the years. Also, I’ll ask previous employers to write me recommendation letters.

Step #2: Make goals measurable

Measurable goals consist of specific milestones with clearly defined criteria that help you track your progress on your way to achieving them.

For example, if you just say that you’ll study for your Monday math exam, you might not be actually able to follow through with this plan. 

When you define your goal without a specific, actionable plan, you don’t have any distinguishable milestones to help you stay on track. 

But let’s assume you say that you’re going to study for your math exam for 5 hours each day, leading up to the next to the last day before the exam when you’ll revise everything. Now, that’s a measurable goal with clear milestones and a plan you can follow (and a plan you can stick to).

So, let’s explore 3 questions and 3 answers of measurable goals.

Questions for measurable goals

If you want to make a goal measurable, consider answering the following questions:

  • Q1: How will I measure progress?
  • Q2: Do I have the necessary tools to measure my progress?
  • Q3: How will I know the goal has been accomplished?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is measurable :

  • A1: To measure my progress (or lack thereof), I’ll check in with my goal tracking app of choice and get a report on how much time I spent studying for the math exam.
  • A2: I’ve recently subscribed to the Clockify goal tracker to track my progress daily. Also, I’ve set a clear learning goal with areas where I expect improvements, like algebra, geometry, and arithmetic.
  • A3: Simple math will tell me whether I have accomplished my goal. If by next Monday, my time tracking report shows that I’ve spent 5 hours a day reading, studying, and learning for the math exam, I’ll consider it a success.

💡 Clockify Pro Tip

Whatever SMART goal you set, you should measure and keep track of it with a fitting tool. Here’s the definitive list of the best goal tracker apps you can use for this purpose:

  • 12 Best goal tracker apps for 2022

Step #3: Make goals attainable 

Attainable goals are realistic enough for you to successfully reach them. 

Saying that you’ll lose 30 lbs in 1 month is usually not attainable .

In fact, you can expect 2 outcomes that can come from such an overachieving goal — and neither is favorable:

  • You go on a strict diet and exercise routine. You stick to your diet without faltering and exercise hard every morning. But, ultimately, you fail because losing that much in such a short time is near impossible.
  • You feel discouraged by such an unfeasible goal from the start. So much that you give up without even trying.

On the other hand, saying that you’ll lose 3 lbs every week for a month by eating healthier and exercising regularly is attainable .

With such a reasonable goal, you’ll have the best chance to stay motivated throughout it.

Next, let’s dive into 5 questions and 5 answers of attainable goals.

Questions for attainable goals

To make your goal more attainable, answering the following questions might help:

  • Q1: Do I have the financial capacity to accomplish my goal?
  • Q2: Do I have the skills and willpower to accomplish my goal?
  • Q3: Will I have access to help when needed?
  • Q4: Do I have all the necessary resources?
  • Q5: Do I have the time to accomplish the goal?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is attainable :

  • A1: I have enough money to join a gym and consult with a professional trainer.
  • A2: I’ve previously already lost 13 lbs within a month on a different occasion. As a result, I firmly believe I can do it again.
  • A3: I’ll have access to a personal trainer, helpful advice from my nutritionist friend, and additional support from my family.
  • A4: I have all the necessary resources at hand, as my city has several great gyms. I also have an enviable selection of healthy food in the neighborhood supermarket.
  • A5: Considering that I work remotely 5 days a week and my job comes with flexible working hours, I can spare 1 hour per weekday to go to the gym — and I have enough time to prepare healthy meals. I can easily spare even more time for the gym and food preparation on weekends.

Step #4: Make goals relevant 

Relevant goals are the ones that directly impact your progress and are particularly important to you.  

So, to actually stick to your goals till the finish line, you need to make sure your goals are relevant. 

Say you want to major in economics. That sounds relevant and worthwhile, right?

However, you’re not the least bit interested in economics. In fact, you don’t plan on pursuing a career in economics. 

That right there makes it an irrelevant goal, as it’s not clear what you’ll get in life by working toward it. Of course, apart from gaining a college degree. But you could also get a degree by studying something you like .

As you might have guessed, it’s always best to pursue a college education in a topic that interests you. A college education goal may also be relevant if you pick a potentially profitable subject you’re not 100% passionate about, but you want to pursue.

Finally, let’s explore 3 questions and 3 answers of relevant goals.

Questions for relevant goals

To make your goal relevant, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Q1: Why is this goal important to me?
  • Q2: Is this goal worth my time?
  • Q3: Is this the right time for it?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is relevant :

  • A1: If I get a major in economics, I’ll be more financially secure and have more time to spend on what matters. Also, pursuing a major in economics will make me more confident about myself and my current career.
  • A2: I feel that getting a major in economics would benefit me in the short and long run. In a nutshell, doing so will affect my mental and physical health. Therefore, it’s worth my time.
  • A3: The holiday feasts are over, and it’s time to implement the New Year’s resolutions. As a result, it’s time to pursue that major in economics.

Step #5: Make goals time-bound 

Time-bound goals are usually set within a specific time frame, with a clear deadline for their completion. 

Take a look at the following example.

To say that you want to participate in a poem writing contest that’s due next week is admirable.

But phrasing it like that means it’s not a time-bound goal .

In this case, the contest has a deadline — say it’s Sunday, February 2. But you didn’t define a deadline for your work. Will you submit your finished work on Tuesday? Or Wednesday? Or 5 hours before the contest deadline, giving you enough time to tweak it to perfection?

As a matter of fact, what’s your time-bound battle plan?   

Now, say that you plan to handle the contest by:

  • Writing the first draft of your poem on Monday, January 27,
  • Revising everything on Tuesday, January 28,
  • Finalizing the rhyme scheme on Wednesday, January 29, and
  • Sending out the poem on Thursday, January 30 — 4 days before the deadline.

That’s a time-bound goal you can work with. So, let’s dive into a few questions and examples of time-bound goals.

Questions for time-bound goals

To make a time-bound — or timely — goal, answer the following questions:

  • Q1: When will I achieve the goal?
  • Q2: When will I carry out the activities that will bring me to my goal?
  • Q3: When can I expect the first outcomes?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is time-bound:

  • A1: I’ll set January 31 as my end deadline. Also, I’ll include daily targets for each of the 3 stages — writing, revising, and finalizing the poem.
  • A2: Every day after work, I’ll set aside 2 hours to work on the poem. I’ll make a clear schedule for writing, revising, and finalizing the poem in stages. I’ll check in with my progress every day to see if I’m set to meet the deadline of submitting the poem 4 days ahead of schedule. 
  • A3: The first outcome I can expect should be completing each stage — writing, revising, finalizing — on a daily basis. For example, if I’ve completed the writing stage, then I can consider my first outcome a success.

Now you know how to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. Kudos! 

Next up, let’s get a few additional tips from business experts and life coaches — with SMART goals examples for work, play, and much more.

How to set SMART goals: Proven tips and expert opinions

If you’ve come this far, setting SMART goals shouldn’t be a problem at this point. But just to be safe, I sat down with a few time management experts, business enthusiasts, coaches, and others to help you understand how to be unstoppable with your SMART goals.

Let’s take a look at unique expert insights into setting and sticking to your SMART goals.

Tip #1: Set a SMART action plan and stick to it

Plans come first, as they are a visual representation of your goals. If you don’t have a plan, you’re more likely to get off track. 

But it’s expected that you’ll have more SMART goals than 1. So, I recommend that you:

  • Laser-focus on 1 goal in 90-day sprints,
  • Spell out each action step in a timeline, and
  • Track your progress every week.

I asked Vincent Nair , the CEO of SMARTECH Business Systems, to weigh in on this topic. According to him, setting clear goals will bring you clarity:

Vincent-Nair- CEO of SMARTECH Business Systems

“Planning ahead is one of the most effective ways to ensure goals are well-understood, timely and realistic. With a clear schedule and roadmap in place, your entire team will have a better understanding of exactly how, why and when your goals are being set.”

That’s what I call common sense — we truly sometimes need to get back to the basics.

Next, I spoke to Will Yang at Instrumentl, a platform serving grant-seekers. His words were another eye-opener as he said that a SMART action plan must include clear landmarks:

Will Yang - Instrumentl

“Ensure apples-to-apples comparisons: it is critical to compare equivalent items and activities when setting SMART goals. For example, if you wish to raise the number of sales calls made in a month, don’t compare it to the number of emails sent in a month. Instead, concentrate on which activity will yield the desired outcomes.”

Learn all about how to think about objectives and key results, with additional resources right here:

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKR): everything you need to know

Tip #2: Serialize your goals and celebrate more

If you’re reading this article, it probably means that you are an overachiever or striving to become one. But one of the main pitfalls overachievers fall into is trying to get more done than they can handle, therefore spreading themselves too thin.

I talked to Alexis Haselberger , time management and productivity coach, to share her wisdom on how to avoid this all-too-common trap. She gives a powerful illustration about how you can feel a sense of satisfaction and motivation if you pace yourself:

Alexis Haselberger - Time management and productivity coach

“Think of it like reading a book: if you read 5 books all at the same time, and read 5 pages each per day, it’ll take you months to finish them all. But, if you start with one book, and read 25 pages a day, you’ll finish in a couple of weeks, and then can move onto the next — which is much more satisfying and motivating.”

To keep a steady pace means creating a workflow that helps you achieve your SMART goals. Career expert Kaloyan Dimitrov of Enhancv, a resume builder, made a good point when he emphasized the importance of enjoying an occasional treat — your milestones:

Kaloyan Dimitrov - Career expert

“Keep yourself motivated and committed to accomplishing your goals by celebrating the milestones that you reach along the route. Think about treating yourself to something special whenever you reach a significant milestone or accomplish a particular goal.”

In fact, it’s this attitude that allows you to feel a sense of accomplishment and get better results.

Speaking of books, read our selection of the best productivity textbooks on the market right here:

  • 25+ Best productivity books

Tip #3: Assign people to help you with your goals

Sometimes, you can’t achieve results or accomplish your tasks without the help of others. 

For example, it’s possible to lose weight on your own. However, it’s smarter if you pay for a gym membership, and let a professional fitness coach or a nutritionist help you in that process. In reality, it’s easier and safer to listen to professionals with the right skills and knowledge to carry out tasks.

Likewise, you’ve probably heard about the Boomerang effect on gaining weight back quickly after losing it. This usually happens because people starve and lose a lot of weight in a short period. Not only do they lose weight quickly, but muscles as well. As a result, people experience their metabolism slowing down and regain weight again.

Luckily, you can translate this weight loss scenario into any modern knowledge work job, like:

  • Coding, etc.

If you’re the editor-in-chief and would like to have a document proofread thoroughly, you don’t need to do it yourself. Instead, ask a fellow editor or writer on your team to do the job for you.

In fact, assigning the right people for the job can result in faster and higher-quality results.

Tip #4: List the tasks that need to be done

Now that you elaborated on your goal in more detail and assigned the right people to assist you, it’s time to focus on the smaller parts. That means the tasks that must be done to achieve the ultimate goal.

In the case of losing 12 lbs of weight, you’ll probably need to complete tasks like:

  • Go to the gym every day after work,
  • Put aside money for the gym membership and nutrition consultations,
  • Weigh yourself each Sunday afternoon, and
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods.

Healthy habits coach Stephanie Averkamp weighs in — pun intended — on this topic. Interestingly, she brings home the point on why you should focus a lot more on your behavior in reaching the goal, and not the final goal itself:

Stephanie Averkamp - Healthy habits coach

“Center your SMART goals around specific behaviors or actions that will take place instead of around specific results you want to achieve. For example, set a SMART goal that is focused on the exercise you will do instead of the amount of weight you will lose. Your behavior is the one thing you have full control over, and behavior drives results.”

When you break your goal into more manageable pieces, you have a better overview of what needs to be done. In turn, the possibility of achieving your goal increases. For that purpose, you can create a hands-on to-do list to keep track of all your tasks in one place.

Get as many to-do list templates as you need — from simple to business and personal — right here:

  • Free To-Do List Templates

Tip #5: Make a workable schedule

To make sure you accomplish your SMART goals even faster, make work time estimates for each activity or task that you need to complete. What’s more, make use of the time blocking technique to organize your tasks into specific blocks of time.

Let’s move back to the weight-loss example again. One of the key things that you need to strictly follow when losing weight is to pay attention to when you eat your meals. 

Even if you are being extremely careful with how many calories you consume daily, eating late at night can decrease your progress and lead to achieving partial results. 

For example, one 2022 study by Harvard Medical School researchers found that late-night eating impacts how you spend energy throughout the day. In fact, the research sheds light on the fact that your productivity overall could suffer from irregular eating schedules. Expectedly, all this negatively affects how you work on your goals.

So, to make sure your SMART goal plan runs smoothly, you need to:

  • Create a time-bound schedule that you are going to stick to, and
  • Determine when your breakfast/snack/lunch/dinner is. 

After completing these steps, you’ll see tangible results.

On a similar note, registered dietitian Kelsey Costa thinks that journaling can play a major role in creating a workable schedule:

Kelsey Costa - dietitian

“Journaling can be a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness, reflection, and the attainability of goals. Journaling helps identify obstacles, patterns, and areas of strength that you may need to draw on during your goal-setting journey. Regularly revisit the specifics of your goals, such as action steps, measurements, and deadlines.”

Now, that’s how you stick to your SMART action plan and goals!

Tip #6: Evaluate and explore

So much valuable advice can sometimes be overwhelming. Yet, many experts have a somewhat curious take on how to approach the SMART goal-setting process.

For example, mental performance coach Lain Lee emphasized that comfort isn’t your ally in reaching your goals:

Lain Lee - Mental performance coach

“Instead of ‘realistic’, your goals should be UNCOMFORTABLE! Nothing worth doing or fighting for is done in comfort! The best things in life — growth, success, learning, love — all exist outside of your comfort zone. So if your goals don’t make you uncomfortable, they’re TOO realistic!”

Another interesting approach in conversations with experts came from certified career and life coach María Tomás-Keegan who showed me a way to enrich the SMART criteria with evaluation and revision:

María Tomás-Keegan - Career and life coach

“2 Additional steps make your SMART goals SMARTER: Evaluate & Revise. Decide when you’ll evaluate your progress and what you’ll look for. This step closes the loop on each goal. Then you’ll know if you need to revise your goal or timeline. This creates a 360-degree view of each goal that helps move them to the finish line.”

In sum, do what works for you — try to make SMART goal setting a seamless process aligned with your personality and preferences. 

Remember: You want SMART goals to work for you, not the other way around.

Interested in learning more about how your personality type might influence your productivity? Say no more — I got you covered in our blog post with productivity tips:

  • Productivity tips for 16 personality types based on MBTI  

Why should you use SMART goals?

Even ancient Greek philosophers emphasized the importance of goal setting and proposed that purpose can incite action . 

Setting your goals by following the SMART criteria helps you elaborate on them. Similarly, it allows you to see if the current goal you want to achieve has any potential or if it’s just a waste of time , as sometimes can be the case.

Up next, I discuss how the SMART goal concept can benefit you insanely in the short run.

Benefit #1: SMART goals enhance well-being

A 2022 study found that SMART goals can increase the likelihood of accomplishing goals and experiencing positive affect. Simply put, positive affect refers to upbeat emotions and expressions in the study’s respondents.

In fact, the same study researchers suggest that the mere existence of a SMART goal strategy increased the quality of the respondents’ behavior that led to goal attainment.

Another relevant result was that the psychologists in charge of the study established that goal attainment, in this sense, led to enhanced well-being. 

In summary, SMART goals make it likely that you’ll achieve your goals and that those goals lead to your well-being.

Read our detailed guide on how to up your goals game by setting daily targets:

  • How to set and reach your daily targets

Benefit #2: SMART goals improve time management skills

Setting goals and efficiently managing your time are 2 elements that go hand in hand. 

If you look at the acronym SMART again, you’ll see that the terms measurable and time-bound refer to time management . So, when you have a clearly defined goal or goals, you know how and where to focus your time. 

What’s more, you can make work time estimates and stick to them to avoid poor spending of resources. Finally, your improved time management skills will help you reduce distractions and increase your focus on more important tasks.

For that purpose, you can opt for a goal-tracking tool like Clockify to get a silent partner in efficiently managing your time and reaching your targets.

Features calendar screenshot

For example, Clockify allows you to beautifully tag and color-code your projects so that you can easily stay on track — and enjoy the process. In fact, the app lets you break down goals into manageable tasks that you can easily digest. In sum, Clockify also allows you to check in on your progress and obtain a report on your productivity as often or rarely as you want.

By integrating SMART goals into your daily routine (whether work or personal), you’ll never miss a deadline or find excuses for missing your workout again.

Learn how to improve your time management skills in our in-depth guide:

  • 10 ultimate steps to improve time management skills  

Benefit #3: SMART goals increase accountability

To achieve any goal, you need to hold yourself accountable. 

I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here, but people often forget to be more responsible on an ongoing basis.

In fact, Harry Morton of Lower Street, a podcast production agency, says something to that effect. Simply put, he told me that you should expect peaks and valleys in how distracted and motivated you feel:

Harry Morton - Lower Street

“When working toward a long-term goal, it can be natural to encounter dips in motivation or distractions. An accountability partner can guide you back on track, offering an objective perspective when you deviate from the path to your goals. Be completely transparent and work with someone who understands what motivates you.”

Benefit #4: SMART goals beat workload overwhelm

A little planning ahead never killed anybody — but work overload and workplace stress are taking a toll on people’s health and the economy. According to a research paper by the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression cost the world’s economy $1 trillion each year, mostly due to a decline in productivity.

However, by setting your personal or business goals, you have a clear picture of what needs to be done, when , where , and how . As a result, the likelihood of feeling burned out reduces tremendously. 

What’s more, when you clearly identify your SMART goals, you learn how to unshakably say “No” to your colleagues the next time they try to swamp you with work. That’s right: SMART goals will save you from exhaustion and stress.

Okay, so now you understand what the SMART goal concept means and why it’s beneficial. Up next, let’s see when SMART goals are the most effective — and when you should avoid them.

Find out more about the causes and symptoms of career burnout and how it affects your health right here:

  • Career burnout and its effect on health

When to use SMART goals

Are SMART goals effective?  Yes, when used in the right context.

Here’s when SMART goals work best.

1. Use SMART goals to set priorities

Use the SMART goal criteria when you want to single out your priorities and focus solely on them. 

The SMART criteria should guide you in the right direction to get a better insight into what’s important to accomplish something. 

In fact, the SMART framework saves you from wasting your time. If you don’t set your priorities right, you’ll lose track of your work. What’s more, you’ll probably end up feeling exhausted — and you don’t want that if you were wondering.

Learn why not all tasks are equally important and how you can prioritize them easily:

  • How to (re-)prioritize your tasks

2. Use SMART goals to set high-level objectives

Use SMART goals when you need to focus on high-level goals that involve a number of smaller, specific tasks. High-level goals (such as advancing your career, enrolling in a university, or losing weight) demand a thorough action plan the SMART goal concept can offer you. 

However, I would even argue that SMART goals are especially useful for the more consequential targets in your life — where you need to be on top of your game because the stakes are high. That’s why it’s essential to make SMART goals a part of your everyday life and planning.

For illustration, consider you’re moving into a different town or state and selling your house. If you fail to take into account local taxes, regulations, real estate prices, and transport in your SMART goal framework, achieving this goal could lead to a disaster – personally and professionally.

3. Use SMART goals to tackle work tasks and set mini-milestones

SMART goals help you carry out your ongoing job responsibilities more efficiently and successfully. 

In fact, the SMART goal concept helps you split your goal into smaller, more manageable pieces. As a result, you get a clearer insight into the tasks that lead you to achieve the ultimate goal. 

For a quick fix, tackle your tasks one at a time to efficiently get them done and avoid being overwhelmed. The technique works wonders! 

In fact, the family law and relationship expert, Laura Wasser , thinks that you first need to set mini-milestones to get you going:

Laura Wasser - Family law and relationship expert

“When setting a SMART goal, think of it as a roadmap to your desired outcome. Break your goal into smaller, achievable steps, which will make it easier for you to stay on track and motivated. These mini-milestones will not only keep you focused, but they’ll also give you a sense of accomplishment as you progress.”

Read our all-inclusive guide to find out how to break down large tasks into easily digestible pieces:

  • How to Break a Project Down into Tasks

4. Use SMART goals to handle new assignments

Employ the SMART goal criteria when you’re moving on to new assignments. 

Whether simple or complex, the SMART goal concept works well with all types of assignments regardless of their complexity or duration. It shifts your attention to what needs to be done and makes a thorough plan to achieve the final goal.

When you get a new assignment, the first step should be to insert it into one of the upcoming SMART goal templates at the end of this guide. This practice shows you if the assignment is even worth your time and effort — or if it’s a priority.

Learn how to distinguish between short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans in your work and life:

  • The differences between long-term and short-term planning

5. Use SMART goals for personal development

When you feed the SMART goal criteria into your daily routine, you can make an everlasting, positive change in your life. This way, you can identify areas for improvement and personal growth — and go the extra mile to advance your career.

If you want to perform better at your job by following a comprehensive, step-by-step guide, check out this article:

  • How to improve in your job

When SMART goals are not so smart 

Now, just because it sounds like the smart thing to do — pun intended — that doesn’t mean you should view all your tasks and initiatives through the SMART goals framework. 

Take a look at the examples of situations when you should avoid using SMART goals. 

1. Don’t use SMART goals to “count” your successes and failures

You shouldn’t use SMART goal-setting just so you can race past your goals as fast as you can without stopping to take a breather and reflect on what you’ve learned along the way.

You also shouldn’t view a SMART goal you haven’t accomplished as a failure and, thus, a reason to judge yourself.

Just because you failed this time doesn’t mean you won’t be able to succeed next time or use the knowledge you gained from pursuing the said goal in the future.

2. Don’t use SMART goals if you tend to give up too soon

SMART goals take time! That’s because they’re more complex than your everyday goals, such as getting to the food store before it closes.

As such, SMART goals take more effort and dedication. Therefore, they can be a bigger challenge for people who get nervous when they think they’re not progressing as best as they could.If you fear that a goal is too large for you to commit to it, it’s best that you reassess it and parse it 1 by 1 into smaller, less challenging goals you can reach easier until you’ve accomplished everything.

3. Don’t use SMART goals when you’re uncertain whether a goal is attainable

Out of all the letters in the SMART acronym, the “A” — which stands for attainable — is the least precise one.

After all, most of the time, you can only be sure a goal is attainable or not if you’ve already tried to pursue it.

So, are you sure you have a shot at landing the position of that Junior Marketing Specialist at that Boston tech company?

Perhaps you don’t have the right qualifications or the right experience.

We’ve seen this before with our example of losing 30 lbs in a month. 

Let’s assume you pursue a goal you’ve defined as attainable (despite it, realistically, not being the case). In this case, this action is bound to discourage you when you fail to reach your goal.

Alternatively, you may miss out on some great opportunities if you mark a realistic goal as “out of reach” without properly thinking about it.

4. Don’t use SMART goals when managing a project

According to the Scrum methodology, even though the SMART criteria suggest that a goal should be specific and measurable , other SMART goal criteria can threaten the success of a project , no matter how well you prepare it. 

Since a project goes through many stages during its life cycle, some things — like, if a goal is realistic — can’t be predicted in advance without further analysis. Also, the criterion time-bound doesn’t fit with the project management principles either. 

You might not be able to know when a goal would be accomplished due to the constant changes during a project’s life cycle.

Therefore, the SMART goal concept doesn’t go hand in hand with project management since it “encourages a simplistic and short-sighted approach to management” — as Scrum methodology experts emphasize in the article I linked to above.

Learn about the essential elements of project management and a few tools to get you started:

  • Project Management: 31 best techniques, practices, and tools

5. Don’t use SMART goals when you expect a challenge

The SMART goal criteria propose that your goal needs to be attainable . In effect, this means knowing in advance if you have the right skills/knowledge/resources to accomplish something. 

When you know that a goal is achievable in advance, it gives you some kind of security. On the other hand, it keeps you stuck in one place. In other words, you are deprived of learning new things or acquiring new skills. 

Sometimes, the thrill of the unknown pushes you towards it and makes you realize all the things you can do. So, if you are a thrill-seeker looking for sudden challenges along the way — maybe the SMART goal concept is not the right fit for you.

—Now that you understand when and when not to use them, here are some examples of well-rounded SMART goals you can use to find inspiration. Let’s get rolling!

5 SMART goal examples

By now, you might be thinking: “ Enough with the beating around the bush, tell me what’s a SMART goal example, alright!”

I won’t give you 1 but 5 SMART goals examples — how’s that for a treat? 

Let’s go through them 1 by 1.

Example #1: SMART goal for improved performance at work 

To say, “ I want to improve my Excel skills, ” is too vague. Instead, try to make your goal:

  • Specific : I want to improve my performance with Excel to get a promotion at work. These performance improvements focus on quicker data entry, more efficient calculations, and creating graphs.
  • Measurable : I’ll know I’ve succeeded because — by the 1st of next month — I’ll be able to enter my data, complete my calculations through custom and combined formulas, create graphs, and carry out my other work in Excel all on my own, and with minimum effort.
  • Attainable : I have enough time to work on improving my Excel skills. I can even look for a website with tutorials or enroll in an online course to help me understand some of the finer points.
  • Relevant : I like working in my company, and I want to continue working there. One of the preconditions of my staying in the company longer and getting promoted is to streamline my work in Excel.
  • Time-bound : I want to perfect my performance with Excel by May 1.

Are you familiar with performance improvement plans (PIP)? Check this article out to learn more about how PIPs can boost your work performance:

  • Everything about performance improvement plans

Example #2: SMART goal for improved time management

Here’s an example of poor goal setting: “I want to accelerate the process of calculating in Excel.”

Instead, your goal should have the following attributes:

  • Specific : It takes me 6 hours to implement all the formulas I need to process data in Excel. I want to cut that time to 3 hours per day, at least.
  • Measurable : I can track the time I spend handling Excel data every day and then observe how that time decreases day by day and week by week. Similarly, I can work on improving my schedule.
  • Attainable : I have the resources to help me learn how to be more efficient when using and combining Excel formulas.
  • Relevant : I currently spend 6 hours of an 8-hour workday carrying out calculations in Excel, and that’s too much of my time. Cutting that time in half would ensure I have more time for other work activities.
  • Time-bound : I want to cut the time I spend on Excel calculations in half by the 15th of next month.

Example #3: SMART goal for students 

Your grades won’t get better overnight, and you sure want to get into a top school or university. Well, saying, “I want to improve my GPA,” won’t do miracles. Instead, make sure your goal is:

  • Specific : I want to improve my GPA to 3.8 so I can apply for a semester abroad with a full scholarship.
  • Measurable : I’ll need to score an A or A+ on all of my tests this semester to improve my total GPA to an average of 3.8 to qualify for a semester abroad on time.
  • Attainable : In recent months, I have fallen behind in school, but I have a history of improving my grades when I put substantial effort into it. So I can improve my grades once again. I’ll need to work longer hours , temporarily cut back on extracurricular activities, and focus on each test and quiz as it comes along.
  • Relevant : The school abroad I want to spend a semester at has a great chemistry program. Passing that program will come in handy when I go to college. There, I want to major in chemistry to become a Chemical Engineer.
  • Time-bound : I want to improve my GPA to 3.8 by the end of this semester to qualify for a position at the college abroad in question.

Students need all the help they can get when it comes to mastering their output. Read our in-depth guide to learn how to radically increase your productivity:

  • Student guide to productivity

Example #4: SMART goal for leadership and team management 

Do you notice a stall in your team’s productivity? Being a team leader can be a double-edged sword from time to time. However, SMART goals can come to your rescue even in this situation. 

To help you get started, ensure your goal to boost your team’s productivity is:

  • Specific : I want to motivate my team to improve their productivity by 50%.
  • Measurable : 50% of increased productivity will trigger a 50% faster project turnaround.
  • Attainable : I’ll use team management software and supply my team with the right productivity tools to help them out.
  • Relevant : Higher productivity means faster project turnaround, and faster project turnaround leads to satisfied clients. Satisfied clients bring good word of mouth, so we’ll likely land more clients because of it. As a result, team morale would increase, so they’ll feel encouraged to keep up the good work.
  • Time-bound : I want to see the expected increase in productivity 6 months from now.

Discover more interesting aspects of team management and how it can affect performance right here:

  • The Complete Team Management Guide

Example #5: SMART goal for weight loss and fitness

You know that I’m-hitting-the-gym-next-Monday attitude never got you anywhere. Most people (including myself) consider going to the gym or exercising in any form as exhausting. In other words, we most frequently see exercise as something that requires a ton of will and determination. 

Although it’s not easy, setting a goal based on the SMART goal concept can make it much more bearable and joyful. 

Once you are on the right track, you’ll regret missing your workouts, even during public holidays. So, be all ears and ensure that your goal is:

  • Specific : I want to lose 10 pounds to improve my fitness and athletic performance.
  • Measurable : I want to lose belly fat and be able to endure physical activities without getting tired easily.
  • Attainable : Suppose there’s a gym near my building with group fitness classes, indoor cycling, a weight loss program, Pilates, and more. I’m going to try the weight loss program first to lose some fat and later switch to Pilates to form my body shape. Also, I’m going to avoid fast food and late-night snacking.
  • Relevant : I like to look nice in my clothes, and physical appearance matters to me. Fast food is high in cholesterol, and high cholesterol runs in my family. As a consequence, I need to be extra cautious.
  • Time-bound : I need to go to the gym 3 times a week, go places on foot, and hopefully lose 10 pounds within 2 to 3 months. This is a healthier plan since — if I lose weight in a short time — I will gain it all back eventually.

Learn a thing or two about how physical and mental fitness can help you become more productive and reach your goals:

  • 10 Productivity exercises for body and mind

SMART goal templates

Skilfully crafted SMART goal templates and SMART goal worksheets can serve as your quick and efficient generator of — you guessed it — SMART goals. 

In the following section, you’ll find different examples of templates, including:

  • Leadership SMART goals examples,
  • Time management SMART goals examples,
  • SMART goals examples for employees, 
  • Productivity SMART goals examples, and more.

In fact, these SMART goals templates and SMART goals worksheets provide the outline for your SMART goal setting. As a result, you’ll just need to follow the said outline and fill it out with your data. It’s a fast and efficient alternative to creating and following your template or making plans without one.

Basic SMART Goal Template

The first of 10, the Basic SMART Goal Template is a simple yet powerful way to get a bird’s-eye view of your goal. 

The straightforward design of this template allows you to easily identify the key components of your goal. If you use the Basic SMART Goal Template, you are taking the first step towards your professional or business goal.

What is the Basic SMART Goal Template about? 

The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym: 

  • Specific, 
  • Measurable, 
  • Attainable, 
  • Relevant, and 
  • Time-bound.

How to use the Basic SMART Goal Template?

Answer 1 or 2 questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. Next, think about if you missed some important aspects and rewrite where applicable.

Who should use the Basic SMART Goal Template? 

This SMART goal template is perfect for people who want a simple approach to setting their goals.

Basic SMART Goal Template

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template PDF

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template Google Docs

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template Excel

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template Google Sheets

Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)

The next on our list, the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) is same as the previous template — just on steroids. 

This template is an effective tool for setting and achieving goals. The Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) gives you deeper insights into the resources and persons who may assist you in reaching your goals.

What is the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) about? 

The Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) is divided into 5 sections on 2 pages each. 

The first page consists of questions to understand the problems you face. The second page is made up of a cheat sheet that can help you solve those problems.

How to use the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)?

Answer 1 or 2 questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. Next, think about the problems you may encounter as you work toward the said goal — and try to solve them before they happen.

Who should use the Basic SMART Goal Template (+Problems)? 

This SMART goal template does wonders for preventing potential problems with your goal (if you want a simple SMART breakdown of your goal). The Basic SMART Goal Template (+Problems) is perfect for businesses and individuals who want to predict financial and organizational issues.

Basic SMART Goal Template + Problems 1

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) PDF

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Google Docs

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Excel

⬇️ Download the Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Google Sheets

Simple SMART Goal Template

The Simple SMART Goal Template is a more relatable and direct template with phrases that anyone can fill out fast. 

Yet, it’s fairly simple and can only get you so far. That said, it’s an awesome first step to get you started on setting your SMART goals!

What is the Simple SMART Goal Template about? 

The Simple SMART Goal Template lets you determine why you want to pursue your goal — and start planning your goal. It’s a simple illustration of your SMART goal.

How to use the Simple SMART Goal Template?

Answer each question in as much detail as possible. As soon as you’re done, consider if you’ve left out any important information – and add it accordingly.

Who should use the Simple SMART Goal Template? 

This SMART Goal Template is perfect for people who want to set SMART goals but don’t necessarily want to answer to SMART criteria.

Simple SMART Goal Template

⬇️ Download the Simple SMART Goal Template PDF

⬇️ Download the Simple SMART Goal Template Google Docs

⬇️ Download the Simple SMART Goal Template Excel

⬇️ Download the Simple SMART Goal Template Google Sheets

Elaborate SMART Goal Template

The Elaborate SMART Goal Template guides you through your thought process with in-depth prompts. 

This template takes you beyond superficial goal-setting. In other words, the Elaborate SMART Goal Template digs deeper into your potential, desires, and plans.

What is the Elaborate SMART Goal Template about? 

The Elaborate SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym:

How to use the Elaborate SMART Goal Template?

After downloading your preferred template, answer a detailed list of questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. You may also need to tweak your answers as you go, and that’s totally fine.

Who should use the Elaborate SMART Goal Template? 

This SMART Goal Template is perfect for people who need more pointers on whether the goal they want to pursue is SMART or not.

Elaborate SMART Goal Template

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template PDF

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template Google Docs

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template Excel

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template Google Sheets

Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)

The Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) is a helpful tool to establish problem areas and solve each. 

The template contains useful prompts on resources and people you can check in with to help you reach your goals faster.

What is the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) about? 

The Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) consists of 5 sections on 2 pages each. 

The first page features a series of questions of the SMART framework. In contrast, the second page consists of a cheat sheet for solving problems you established on the first page.

How to use the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)?

Answer a detailed list of questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. After that, think about the problems you may face as you work toward the said goal — and try to solve them before they happen.

Who should use the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)?  

This SMART goal template is great for preventing potential problems with your goal — in case you want a more detailed SMART breakdown of your goal. The Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) is perfect for businesses and individuals who want to explore financial and organizational concerns in depth.

Elaborate SMART Goal Template 1

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) PDF

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Google Docs

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Excel

⬇️ Download the Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems) Google Sheets

SMART Goal Tree Template

The SMART Goal Tree Template is a nugget of gold on our list of SMART goal templates. 

It’s a treasure trove of valuable insights and direct measurement tools to reach your goals in an efficient and effective manner. 

What is the SMART Goal Tree Template about? 

The SMART Goal Tree Template helps you select and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that tell you how well you’re progressing with your goal.

How to use the SMART Goal Tree Template?

To use this more complex template, set up at least 3 indicators for your goal. Then, insert measures to track progress, and reach the targets. 

For example, the overall goal could be: “Improved customer satisfaction by 50%.”

An indicator for this goal would be: “ The number of calls, requests, and emails taken by customer support and ending in happy resolutions. ”

The 2 measures we can use to calculate the indicator could be: 

  • “Professionally and cheerfully handling customer requests, calls, and emails,” and
  • “Creating an incentive system for customer support agents to be better in their job”.

Finally, the 2 targets for each measure could be:

  • “50% more calls/emails handled more professionally and cheerfully by customer support,” and
  • “Managers in the customer support team giving positive employee reviews weekly”.

Who should use the SMART Goal Tree Template? 

You can use this template to measure success in various business areas, such as:

  • Customer support, 
  • Company finance, 
  • Internal processes, and more.

SMART Goal Tree Template

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Tree Template PDF

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Tree Template Google Docs

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Tree Template Excel

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Tree Template Google Sheets

SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities)

The SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) is just what it sounds like. 

This template calls for responsibility and sets out steps on your way to reaching your professional and personal goals. In fact, it gives you immediate feedback on whether you’ve reached your objectives in the end.

What is the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) about?  

The SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) lets you determine the value of a goal by asking you to explain how or why the said goal is:

  • Time-bound. 

Then, you can add the person responsible for the said goal and lay out the steps you need to go through to reach success.

How to use SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities)?

After downloading this action plan template, respond to each prompt and fill out the steps you need to complete to reach your goal. Also, you can name the responsible persons or entities that need to help you on this journey.

Remember that nothing is set in stone, and you can always rewrite it if you spot inconsistencies or flaws in your original plan.

Who should use the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities)? 

Great for teamwork within a project where each teammate has different goals and responsibilities that together tie into one greater purpose. Also great for goals that imply a specific set of steps (or tasks) you need to tackle to reach them.

SMART Action Plan Template + Action Steps and Responsibilities

⬇️ Download the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) PDF

⬇️ Download the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) Google Docs

⬇️ Download the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) Excel

⬇️ Download the SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) Google Sheets

New Year SMART Goal Template

The New Year SMART Goal Template prompts you to provide an overview of your personal and professional aspirations for the coming year. 

As a result, this template goes above and beyond to explore which goals you truly want to pursue — or not.

The New Year SMART Goal Template requires that you make a bit of a long-term commitment.

What is the New Year SMART Goal Template about? 

The New Year SMART Goal Template lets you define SMART goals for your:

  • Personal growth, 
  • Health, 
  • Business life, 
  • Family and friends, 
  • Travels, 
  • Hobbies, and 
  • New purchases in the new year.

How to use the New Year SMART Goal Template?

As soon as you download your preferred format, answer the prompts in as much detail as possible. 

For example, in the Personal growth section, you can list things such as “Start meditating every day for 30 minutes” or “Read 20 book pages daily” and go from there.

Who should use the New Year SMART Goal Template? 

This template is perfect for carrying out your New Year’s resolutions. So, you can be a university student, a freelancer, or anyone else pursuing goals in the coming year.

New Year SMART Goal Template

⬇️ Download the New Year SMART Goal Template PDF

⬇️ Download the New Year SMART Goal Template Google Docs

⬇️ Download the New Year SMART Goal Template Excel

⬇️ Download the New Year SMART Goal Template Google Sheets

SMART Goal Template for Project Managers

The SMART Goal Template for Project Managers is a clear, concise, and descriptive tool to get to the hows and whys of your project management goals. 

In turn, it helps you lead your team and create a roadmap for success in a short period.

What is the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers about?  

The SMART Goal Template for Project Managers consists of 5 sections. 

With this template, you can assess each goal you want to assign to a team member. In fact, you can decide whether the goal needs redefining or even whether it’s worthwhile (or unattainable by the assigned team member) in the first place.

How to use the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers?

Answer 2 questions per section to set and define a goal any project manager might face. Similarly, remember that you can tinker with the details and rewrite anything you deem necessary at any point during the process.

Who should use the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers? 

This SMART goal template is perfect for managers who are currently defining the goals and objectives of a project. You can also consider this template as a way to establish SMART goals for better time management.

SMART Goal Template for Project Managers

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers PDF

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers Google Docs

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers Excel

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template for Project Managers Google Sheets

SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) 

Last but not least, the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) presents a powerful tool for learning what motivates you to reach your goals. 

By taking the time to understand what drives you, you can tap into your intrinsic motivation and stay focused on your short-term and long-term goals even when things get tough.

What is the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) about? 

The SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) lets you assess whether a goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Then, you can define the motivations and rewards that stand behind your pursuit of the said goal.

How to use the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations)?

To get to the bottom of your rewards and motivations, simply respond to 5 questions from the SMART framework, followed by 2 questions on how you’ll make the goal motivating and rewarding. 

Who should use the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations)? 

Rewards are important to keep you motivated enough to pursue a goal. I suggest you pick this SMART goal template if you want to define specific rewards that await you when you reach a goal.

SMART Goal Template + Rewards, Motivations

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) PDF

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) Google Docs

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) Excel

⬇️ Download the SMART Goal Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) Google Sheets

Wrapping up: The SMART framework helps you reach goals faster

The SMART goal formula gives you an easy way to determine whether the goal you’re looking to pursue is:

  • Attainable, and 
  • Relevant enough for you to pursue it in the first place. 

The SMART goal criteria also give you a time frame and deadline — the time-bound part in the acronym — to use as a point of reference for your plan as you work toward the said goal.

Above all, SMART goals criteria are suitable for both personal and business goals. Speaking of which, SMART goals help you:

  • Improve performance at work,
  • Lead teams more effectively,
  • Enhance time management,
  • Be healthier and fitter, 
  • Boost accountability, and much more.

Whatever SMART goal you pursue, it’s always best that you use a ready-made template or a goal tracking app to define and track it. If you do it, you’ll spend less time planning the goals and more time actually working on them.

✉️ How does your goal sound like after integrating the SMART goal criteria in it? Have you found a SMART goal template that works for your needs? Drop us a line at [email protected] for a chance to be featured in this or one of our future articles. And, if you liked this blog post, share it with someone who might find it useful.

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Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.

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How to Set SMART Goals for Managers and Leaders: 28 Examples to Develop Your Skills and Guide Your Team to Success

By Kate Eby | July 7, 2023

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Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals help managers and leaders guide their teams to success. These goals typically support a business strategy that aligns with the company’s vision of its future.

In this article, you’ll learn how to set SMART goals for leaders , using a downloadable cheat sheet and 28 example SMART goals for leadership development , performance goals , and more.

What Are SMART Goals for Managers? 

SMART goals for managers are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that guide the actions and performance of a unified team. These goals often drive forward the business and the individuals involved.

Richard Nolan

“Leadership goals are different from individual goals because they focus on fostering a shared vision and direction for a group, as well as developing processes to ensure that this shared purpose is met,” explains Richard Nolan, the Chief People Officer of Epos Now . “Leadership goals should be focused on creating an atmosphere of collaboration and trust among members of the team so that everyone can work together efficiently and effectively.”

Unlike OKRs, SMART goals focus on the path to achieving the goal instead of only the end result. Learn more about the difference between OKRs and SMART goals .

How to Set SMART Goals for Leaders

To set SMART goals for leaders, ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Choose ones that help individuals drive the overall goals of the business.

To learn how to write SMART goals for leaders, follow the steps below:

  • Clarify Your Leadership Vision Consider the overall business and leadership goals you want to achieve. Identify the roadblocks preventing you from achieving them, and create a plan to address those roadblocks and help you incrementally achieve your larger business goals. “It’s important for leaders and managers to remember not only their end goal, but why they want to achieve it,” says Nolan. “Holding yourself accountable for understanding how your leadership will impact the organization as you set out toward achieving those objectives will help ensure success.”
  • Break Down Your Vision Into SMART Goals SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound to make it easy to measure progress and ensure they can be met. “I recommend approaching competency and performance goals with precision planning. Break down your goal into subgoals you need to accomplish each week or month in order to achieve them by a certain deadline,” suggests Nolan.

Lilian Chen

  • Make Adjustments as Necessary If a goal is not as achievable as initially set, consider changing it, altering the timeline, or breaking it down into smaller goals.
  • Celebrate Successes Acknowledge and celebrate with your team when you achieve goals. Not only is it beneficial for morale, it can help motivate everyone to continue working toward larger, future goals.

Leadership SMART Goal Examples

SMART goals for leadership can include expanding the business presence and improving employee development and retention. They also involve aligning smaller team goals to larger company thresholds and making large-scale business processes more efficient.

Here are six examples of SMART goals for leadership:

1. Develop Internal Talent Leadership will implement a talent identification process and establish mentoring relationships for high-potential employees with the goal of increasing internal promotions by 20 percent in the next two years.

  • Specific: The goal is to identify employees with a potential for promotion, mentor them, and increase the number of internal promotions.
  • Measurable: Compare the current number of internal promotions with the total after you implement talent identification and mentorships.
  • Achievable: The goal uses employee reviews to identify talent and encourages veteran employees to take on mentorship responsibilities.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because developing internal talent is more affordable and results in more engaged employees.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to two years.

2. Develop a Growth Mindset By the end of the year, the leader will engage in monthly learning activities, such as reading books on personal development or attending relevant conferences or events. 

  • Specific: The goal is to develop a habit of learning that will contribute to a growth mindset.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by keeping track of the books read and conferences or events attended.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because many leadership and personal growth books are available for free from the library and the leader can choose to attend local and affordable events.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because leaders who set an example of the pursuit of personal knowledge and growth can demonstrate the benefit of thinking more broadly in both personal and professional situations.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to be achieved by the end of the year and occurs on a regular cadence.

3. Improve Employee Onboarding By the end of the quarter, the leader will improve the employee onboarding process by creating standardized materials and conducting feedback surveys at the end of the onboarding period. 

  • Specific: The goal is to enhance the onboarding process for new employees and their trainers by standardizing the materials used and conducting feedback surveys to both trainers and incoming employees.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by comparing the results of feedback surveys over time.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable with the help of HR personnel and by creating a centralized, accessible repository for new onboarding documents.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because current employees say they wish the onboarding process had been structured more thoughtfully.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the quarter.

4. Create a Plan to Open an Additional Retail Branch By the end of the year, the leader will have a plan in place to open an additional retail branch, including a detailed project plan for the entire process, buildout plans confirmed, a location under contract, and all required permits.

  • Specific: The goal is to put in all of the preliminary work to open a new retail location.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by checking requirements off a list, including a project plan, a construction buildout plan, a location rental, and required permits.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because it is within the scope of projects the company has undertaken in the past.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because leadership has identified a new, profitable market that is suitable for the business.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to complete planning by the end of the year.

Learn how writing SMART project objectives can set you up for success. 

5. Reduce Ambiguity of Job Descriptions By the end of the quarter, the leader will perform an audit of all existing job descriptions, requirements, and expectations, and update them to match the current state of those jobs as they exist in the company today.

  • Specific: The goal is to audit existing job descriptions, requirements, and expectations, and edit them to reflect the actual state of those jobs within the company.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable because progress can be tracked on a list of job titles within the company.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting aside time over the next quarter to perform an audit and update the copy.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because many roles have evolved over time and their descriptions and job titles no longer match the current work environment.

6. Decrease the Time Spent in Meetings By the end of the month, the leader will implement a standardized meeting agenda that the team can populate ahead of schedule to improve the efficiency of the time spent in meetings and decrease the team’s total meeting time by 10 percent each week.

  • Specific: The goal is to implement a standardized meeting agenda to use their time together more efficiently and decrease the overall time spent in meetings each week.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by comparing the team’s total time spent in meetings per week before and after implementing the new agenda.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by customizing a meeting agenda template to suit the team’s needs.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because staff report they are spending too much time in meetings, reducing the time available to complete work.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the month.

Leadership Development SMART Goals Examples

SMART goals for leadership development might include focusing on building relationships, exploring mentorship opportunities, and learning to coach. They can also focus on ways to develop team members for their own leadership roles.

Here are four examples of SMART goals for leadership development below:

1. Be a Better Coach To become a better coach by the end of the year, the leader can set a SMART goal of learning and practicing coaching techniques during monthly conversations with each team member. 

  • Specific: The goal is to be a better coach by learning coaching techniques and applying them in team conversations.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by adding a question related to coaching on employee feedback surveys and gathering those results.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because many free online resources are available to learn to be a better coach.

Liz Kofman Burns

  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the year, aligning with the next employee feedback survey.

2. Share Your Own Experience The leader will include a professional anecdote of a lesson they have learned in each quarterly company address to help future leaders identify areas in their lives that may be impactful to their prospects and help them grow.

  • Specific: The goal is to help future leaders identify areas in their experience that might be instrumental to their development by having senior leadership share anecdotes from their own professional lessons learned.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by ensuring that each company address includes a professional lesson learned by an executive level leader.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting aside two to three minutes of each address to include this information.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because it can help promising employees identify areas of growth in their own professional lives and careers.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to each quarterly address.

3. Start an Employee Mentorship Program By the end of the year, leadership will implement an employee mentorship program in which seasoned staff can help more junior members of the team gain experience and grow within their roles.

  • Specific: The goal is to create a mentorship program that benefits both junior and senior members of the team to develop practical and leadership skills in their existing roles.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable due to tracking the number of mentors and mentees that sign up for the new initiative, as well as tracking their career progress over time.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable using a volunteer model or by offering an incentive for employees to participate.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because employees gaining knowledge and experience both in their roles and as mentors is good for morale and engagement.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the year.

4. Focus on Building Relationships: Leadership will organize quarterly networking and social events to aid in building personal and professional relationships within the organization. 

  • Specific: The goal is to encourage employees to build relationships with one another by participating in networking and social events.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable based on the events occurring each quarter.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting aside time and budget to organize the events.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because employees who have better relationships form more cohesive teams.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is recurring and time-bound to the end of each quarter.

SMART Goal Examples for Developing Leadership Competencies

SMART goals for developing leadership competencies focus on building soft skills that lend themselves to effective leadership. Goal examples can include improving active listening, cultivating an open mindset, building empathy, and learning from your mistakes.

Here are five examples of SMART goals for developing leadership competencies below:

1. Become More Adaptable and Open-Minded The leader will engage in weekly self-reflection exercises to help identify and overcome personal biases with the goal of becoming more adaptable and open-minded in their thinking.

  • Specific: The goal is to become more adaptable and open minded by identifying and overcoming personal biases.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured as the leader completes exercises each week.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable using books and videos to explore different self-reflection exercises.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because a dynamic workplace requires leaders to be capable of flexible thinking.
  • Time-Bound: The goal reoccurs weekly.

2. Improve Active Listening Leadership will improve active listening skills by practicing active listening techniques in at least three conversations per week and by seeking feedback from two colleagues on their progress after two months.

  • Specific: The goal is to improve active listening skills by learning and using proven techniques.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by receiving feedback from colleagues.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by taking the time to seek out and learn these techniques, as well as practicing them in important conversations.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because active listening helps you get the most out of critical conversations, retain more information, and provide more insight on the topic.
  • Time-Bound: The goal will be measured after two months.

3. Build Emotional Intelligence Over the next year, leadership will learn to build their empathy and emotional intelligence by reading four books on empathy and emotional intelligence and by participating in a quarterly leadership book club discussion.

  • Specific: The goal is to learn to build emotional intelligence and empathy by reading highly rated books and participating in discussions with other leaders.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured as leadership reads and discusses each book.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because reading one book and having one group discussion per quarter is a reasonable expectation of leadership.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because emotional intelligence and empathy can help leadership better relate to employees and customers.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of a year.

4. Give Positive Feedback More Often By the end of the month, leadership will improve the quality and frequency of positive feedback provided to the team by dedicating at least 15 minutes per week to record positive feedback and implement regular recognition and appreciation in a weekly recap email. 

  • Specific: The goal is to give more frequent positive feedback to members of the team.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured each week when the weekly recap email is released.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by spending 15 minutes to identify the things the team did well that week.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because positive feedback helps employees feel valued and acknowledged by leadership.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the month. 

5. Learn From Your Mistakes Leadership will hold or sit in on lessons learned meetings at the end of major projects to break down mistakes and learn how to help teams avoid them in the future.

  • Specific: The goal is to participate in lessons learned meetings to help identify and avoid risks and mistakes.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured as each meeting is held at the end of a project.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by implementing a company-wide policy of holding a post-mortem meeting after all major projects.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because documenting and breaking down mistakes is one of the best ways to ensure they do not occur on future projects.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of the next major project.

SMART Goal Examples for Improving Leadership Skills

SMART goals for improving leadership skills should focus on gaining industry-relevant knowledge and certifications, seeking feedback, attending industry events, and building a network.

Here are three examples of SMART goals for improving leadership skills:

1. Participate in Industry Events and Build a Professional Network By the end of next year, each leadership team member will attend two industry events or trade shows with the purpose of meeting professionals in the field and building relationships with them.

  • Specific: The goal is to attend industry events and meet people to network with professionally.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by the number of events attended where they sent follow up emails or traded business cards.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable, as many events are held in the city where the business is based.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because having a strong professional network allows you to find help, get answers to professional questions, and connect with mentors in the industry.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to the end of next year.

2. Ask for Feedback Regularly By the end of next quarter, members of leadership will encourage regular, honest feedback from the team by distributing quarterly anonymous feedback surveys. 

  • Specific: The goal is to seek feedback from the team on leadership styles and strategies through anonymous feedback forms.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured when the feedback forms are collected and analyzed.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by creating a standardized, anonymous survey to give to the team or by customizing a template .
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because allowing employees to tell leadership where they can improve helps build trust.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is measured at the end of each quarter.

3. Gain Leadership Certifications By the end of next year, each leader will successfully complete a leadership development course and earn certification.

  • Specific: The goal is to successfully complete a leadership development course and gain certification.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured upon each leader’s successful completion of the course.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because many courses are available in person or online.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because certification shows the team that leadership is dedicated to improvement and becoming better leaders.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to be completed by the end of the next year.

Examples of SMART Goals for Managers and Team Leaders

SMART goals for managers and team leaders can include improving team cohesion, building employee skill levels and engagement, and boosting leadership skills to facilitate projects and processes, as well as to better serve the team.

Here are five examples of SMART goals for managers and team leaders below:

1. Build a More Dynamic Team Managers and team leaders will model collaboration, innovation, and communication to help guide team members to become more engaged, flexible, and responsive, leading them to improve their metrics over the previous quarter.

  • Specific: The goal is to model dynamic behavior and build a team that is flexible and responsive to changing requirements in a fast-paced environment.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by comparing relevant metrics such as service response time or project completion rates before and after these changes.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable because managers and team leaders are expected to model desired behaviors for the team.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because more dynamic teams can better respond to risks and changes in the working environment.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is recurring and measured at the end of each quarter.

2. Schedule Team-Building Activities Each quarter, the manager or team leader will schedule and run a team-building activity to build relationships and increase team cohesion.

  • Specific: The goal is to plan a team-building activity on a regular basis.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured as each event occurs.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting a budget and scheduling time to plan and complete the activity.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because team-building activities help strengthen relationships and improve team cohesion.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to occur by the end of each quarter.

3. Increase Employee Engagement By the end of the quarter, managers and team leaders will increase employee engagement by introducing a rewards program for top performers and providing development opportunities to struggling team members.

  • Specific: The goal is to increase employee engagement by offering rewards for good performance and development opportunities for employees who need them.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by the number of rewards given and development opportunities taken.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting a budget and choosing metrics that are reachable in each assessment period.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because employees who receive desirable rewards for their work are more likely to keep performing well.

4. Improve Meeting and Presentation Skills Before their next group presentation, managers and team leaders will improve their meeting and presentation skills by learning best practices and practicing presentations at least twice.

  • Specific: The goal is to improve meeting and presentation skills by seeking out tips and advice and by practicing them before presenting to the team.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by adding a line to employee feedback forms to include the quality and engagement of presentations by leadership.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by seeking out best-practice books and videos, and rehearsing presentation materials in front of a colleague or a mirror.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because improved presentation skills lead to more engaging presentations and better audience participation and knowledge retention.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time bound to be complete before the next group presentation.

5. Hold Regular Check-In Meetings By the end of the month, managers and team leaders will set up a regular meeting with each person on their team to check in on their status and review their performance and concerns.

  • Specific: The goal is to set up a regular meeting cadence with each member of the team.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by scheduling recurring meetings with each team member.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting aside time to sit down with each person on the team regularly.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because regular check-ins help both managers and employees stay on the same page about work progress and to identify blockers early.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to begin by the end of the month.

SMART Performance Goals Examples for Managers

SMART performance goals for managers relate to improving retention numbers, boosting service or response times, and completing and holding skills training classes. For example, these goals can help a business maintain standards, as well as meet and exceed sales goals.

Here are five examples of SMART performance goals for managers:

1. Improve the Retention Rate By the end of the year, managers will increase retention on their teams by 10 percent due to encouraging employee growth, promoting from within, and submitting annual cost of living raises for all team members.

  • Specific: The goal is to reduce voluntary resignations by creating an environment where employees want to work.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by comparing resignation rates before and after implementing these policies.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by implementing annual cost of living increases and encouraging the development of internal talent.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because it is more affordable to retain existing employees than to recruit and train new people.
  • Time-Bound: The goal will be measured at the end of each year.

2. Improve Service Response Time Managers will help their teams improve service response time by 15 percent by the end of the year. To achieve this goal, the managers will optimize operational processes and make sure all team members receive regular training and feedback on their performance.

  • Specific: The goal is to increase service response time by 15 percent by the end of the year.
  • Measurable: The goal is measurable by comparing service response times before and after implementing new processes and training.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by putting in place new optimized processes and providing regular feedback and training to the team.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because an increase in service response time will boost customer satisfaction.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is to be measured at the end of the year.

3. Organize Staff Training on New Software By the end of the month, managers will ensure that all staff members have been trained on newly implemented software.

  • Specific: The goal is to train all staff members on new software by the month’s end.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by keeping track of which employees have completed training and those who still need it.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by setting aside time to go over the new program with each employee by the end of the month.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because the new software is integral to business operations and all employees must know how to use it.

4. Maintain Company and Industry Quality Standards Before the next official inspection, managers will implement a policy of regular internal inspections of the facility to ensure that all parts of the business are up to code at all times.

  • Specific: The goal is to ensure that the company can pass an official inspection at all times of the year, not only when they expect the inspector to arrive.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured as each internal inspection is completed.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by creating a document that reflects the standards of the official inspection and reviewing each line item as if the inspector was doing it.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because official inspections are not always scheduled and inspectors can show up at any time.
  • Time-Bound: The goal is time-bound to begin before the next official inspection.

5. Meet and Exceed Sales Goals Each quarter, managers will lead their teams to meet and exceed sales goals by implementing lead identification and prioritization processes to ensure that teams are following up the most promising sales leads.

  • Specific: The goal is to meet and exceed quarterly sales goals.
  • Measurable: The goal is measured by comparing actual sales numbers to sales goals at the end of each quarter.
  • Achievable: The goal is achievable by creating a process to prioritize leads based on their likelihood of purchase.
  • Relevant: The goal is relevant because meeting sales goals means more income for the business.

SMART Goals Examples for Leadership Cheat Sheet

SMART Goals Examples for Leaderships Cheat Sheet

Download a SMART Goals Examples for Leadership Cheat Sheet for  Microsoft Word | Adobe PDF | Google Docs

This cheat sheet consolidates all 28 examples of SMART goals for leaders outlined in this article. You can copy and paste these goals into your own documents directly or customize them to match your personal and professional goal-setting needs. Be sure to consider the needs of your business and your unique leadership position when adapting these goals for yourself.

Why Do Managers Use SMART Goals?

Managers use SMART goals because they help set clear expectations, track progress, and achieve success in a structured manner. They are useful for leaders to communicate goals clearly and can be referenced easily for review and development conversations.

“SMART goal setting has helped me be a better team leader and manager by allowing me to focus on what is important and to prioritize tasks. I can create a clear roadmap to success, and my team can follow it there,” Chen explains. 

In fact, when teams have an experienced manager, they feel that work quality is higher, more efficient, and more collaborative . Many managers find SMART goals to be one of the best ways to develop their own skills and gain the experience needed to better serve their teams.

Why Is Setting SMART Goals Important in Leadership Development?

SMART goals are important for leadership development because they create clear, measurable objectives. They help set the example that leadership should follow when creating goals for their teams and projects.

“Goal setting is incredibly important because it helps define clear intentions with measurable outcomes,” says Nolan. “Setting achievable milestones allows leaders to track progress along every step of their journey. As someone who started out leading small teams with very tight budgets before gradually taking on larger management roles across multiple divisions — doing this has helped me make more educated decisions while allowing me oversee growth more effectively than I ever thought possible.”

Here are some of the many reasons that setting SMART goals can help develop better leaders:

  • Clarifies Goals and Objectives: SMART goals are a positive way to communicate clear goals and objectives, as well as a plan for achieving them. This can help encourage an open and visible style of management, which many teams appreciate.
  • Easy to Track and Determine Success: Developmental goals are only useful if you are able to easily measure their success. SMART goals have success metrics built in, so you can track where you’ve been and where you’d like to end up.
  • Ensure Developmental Alignment With Company Goals: SMART goals make it easy to compare your personal leadership development goals with those of the organization. By clearly stating your goals, you can ensure they are in the best interest of both you and the company.
  • Helps Identify Areas of Weakness or Potential Improvement: Goals can help you identify areas of improvement by highlighting where you or your team is falling short. If you do not achieve your SMART goals the first time, reassess, ensure the goal is still realistic, and then make a new plan to achieve it.
  • Promotes Accountability: Goal setting promotes accountability for the team and for leadership. You are responsible for achieving the goals you set and for helping your team do the same. In fact, people who write down their goals, commit to goal-driven actions, and report regularly on their progress are 70 percent more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not. 
  • Better Promotion Decisions: “Bias creeps in when there are no structured procedures to determine compensation, bonuses, and promotions, which can result in unjust outcomes that run the risk of demoralizing talented employees,” explains Kofman-Burns. “A fair performance management system that incorporates SMART goals can help companies ensure that they are rewarding their top performers.”

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5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: June 09, 2023

Every year I create vague New Year's resolutions, but this year I decided to try something different.

SMART goals graphic with a woman holding a compass for direction, pens for writing goals, clock to time-bound, and chess pieces for strategy.

Using the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), I reworded my 2023 goal from "read more books" to "read two books per month to hit my goal of reading 24 before the end of the year."

The SMART framework is an effective strategy for creating more specific and attainable goals. Plus, it provides benchmarks against which you can measure your progress — if you have a larger, more daunting goal, smaller steps can help you remain motivated.

Here, let's explore what SMART goals are, why they're important, and how to make your own.

Download your free marketing goal-setting template here. 

  • What are SMART Goals?
  • Why Are SMART Goals Important?

SMART Goal Examples

  • How to Make a SMART Goal

Download this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is that they also set SMART goals. Use the template above to follow along and create your own SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are concrete targets that you aim to hit over a certain period. These goals should be carefully drafted by a manager and their direct report to set them up for success. "SMART" is an acronym that describes the most important characteristics of each goal.

"SMART" stands for "specific," "measurable," "attainable," "relevant," and "time-bound." Each SMART goal should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

goal statement using smart

Free SMART Goal Template

A free template to help you create S.M.A.R.T. goals for marketing campaign success.

  • Set your goals
  • Calculate your metrics
  • Evaluate your success

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

SMART Goal Acronym

Most trace the SMART acronym back to a 1981 paper by George Doran, " There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives ." His colleagues Arthur Miller and James Cunningham are also credited for their work on this paper.

The "Objectives" section of this paper asks "How do you write meaningful objectives?" Then goes on to define the SMART acronym as the following:

  • Specific — target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable — quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable — specify who will do it.
  • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related — specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

The meaning of each letter in this acronym can shift based on the user and how they want to apply this framework to their business. You can see the most popular terms and their best-known alternatives below:

SMART goals acronym

Image Source

The paper also says that not every goal will need to meet all five criteria. Instead, the goal was to use this acronym to create a benchmark for management excellence.

But today, the SMART acronym usually looks like this:

Measurable goals: Smart goals

SMART goals are:

This framework continues to be useful because it's easy to remember and can help streamline the goal-setting process.

Let's talk more about each part of the SMART acronym and how you can apply this as you create measurable goals for yourself and your team.

S — Specific

Specific goals are clear and include precise details. Specificity makes your goal easy to understand and carry out.

To check if your goal is specific, ask more than one person to review your goal and rephrase what you are trying to do. If your proofreaders come up with more than one idea of your final goal, it isn't specific enough.

M — Measurable

Measurable goals are targets that you can calculate and track over time. Goals that include a set measurement or metric are more concrete than anecdotal goals or plans based on someone’s opinion.

Measurable goals give you and your team a chance to track progress toward a goal and make changes over time. It also gives you a clear and specific picture of success.

To figure out how to make your goal measurable, look closely at your ultimate goal. Ask yourself:

  • How can we control this goal?
  • Is this goal clear and actionable?
  • Is there anything subjective about this goal?

Then, choose the metrics that most directly connect to your final goal. If you're not sure which metrics to choose, this guide to KPIs can help you get started.

A — Attainable

Attainable goals are challenging but achievable. This aspect of goal-setting should consider the unique qualities of your team well as the problems and blockers you work on together.

To set ambitious but attainable goals, start by thinking big . Create a list where you imagine the best possible outcomes. Take a break for a day or two, then come back and edit your list with every question, challenge, and critique you can think of.

Goals that are too easy to meet won't motivate your team or lead to growth. But goals that are unrealistic can demoralize your team and strain resources. It's important to find the right balance.

R — Relevant

Relevant goals support the mission, vision, and priorities of your business.

To make sure your SMART goals connect to your business goals, start the goal and objective-setting process with a quick review.

Read through your company's mission and vision statements , or print and post them on the wall in a shared space. Then review quarterly business reports, recent memos, or any recent communication about business goals. This will mean you start the process with what's relevant at the top of your mind.

After you draft your SMART goals, do another quick scan of these documents and review your goals for relevance.

It's easy to get excited about a new idea, even if it doesn't align with company priorities. But the best ideas will support your most essential business goals.

T — Time-Bound

Time-bound goals have a specific deadline or timeframe. Adding a time constraint to your goal creates a sense of urgency.

Urgency combines importance with a need for action. This is sometimes because there's a fear of consequences. Other times employees feel it because they're eager to prepare for the future or meet an exciting goal.

Time constraints are important to your goal-setting process. This is because tasks that are time-sensitive often feel more important than tasks without a timeframe attached. This means that, no matter how essential a project is, it will drop in priority without a deadline.

Luckily, it's easy to create a feeling of urgency. Just add a realistic timeframe to your goal . Time-bound goals also set clear expectations for stakeholders, which improves communication.

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals are important to set as they:

  • Help you work with clear intentions, not broad or vague goals
  • Provide a method to gauge your success by setting benchmarks to meet
  • Give sensible objectives that are realistic and achievable
  • Cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that could take away from what’s important
  • Set a clear beginning and end to adhere to in reaching your goals

When you make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you're increasing your odds for success by verifying that the goal is achievable, identifying the metrics that define success, and creating a roadmap to reach those metrics.

If your goals are abstract, if you don't know what it will take to achieve success, or if you don't give yourself a deadline to complete steps, you may lose focus and fall short of what you want to accomplish.

Do SMART goals actually work?

In short — yes, if done correctly .

For instance, one study found 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, made a list of goal-driven actions, and provided weekly progress reports to a friend achieved their goals — which is 33% higher than those with unwritten goals.

Additionally, I polled roughly 300 participants in the U.S. and found 52% believe SMART goals help them achieve their goals more often than if they didn't use a SMART framework.

SMART goals statistic showing people believe SMART goals work

Setting unrealistic goals and trying to measure them without consideration of previous performance, overly short time frames, or including too many variables will lead you off course.

However, these goals work only if formulated properly and if they take into account the motive and cadence of those working on them. Additionally, your SMART goals can only succeed when the employees working towards them have the means to achieve them.

Benefits of SMART Goals

Offer focus and clarity.

The process of goal completion is often more complicated than it seems. Distractions, side tasks, and other projects can all steer you away from completing your projects.

But SMART goals improve focus because they simplify your to-do list of tasks. At the same time, they offer an immediate reminder of why those specific tasks are important.

Boost Motivation

It's not unusual to experience stress or overwhelm in the workplace. One contributor is often a lack of clear goals. And that combination can make a serious impact on your motivation.

But a SMART goal can boost energy, improve direction, and motivate you and your team because:

  • It gets everyone more involved in the process
  • It helps employees understand why their work is important
  • It offers a new challenge and direction for people who are feeling stuck

Improve Accountability

Fear of failure often stops people from doing their best work. To avoid this stressor, you might avoid making a commitment in the workplace.

But accountability is an essential for high-growth teams. It helps you and your team engage, take ownership of their work, and take responsibility for progress.

SMART goals improve accountability because they give teams and managers a simple way to track progress toward shared objectives. This makes it easier for teams to understand the learning, coaching, and feedback they need to optimize performance.

SMART goals also help teams manage and plan their time more effectively. They make it easier to prioritize tasks too.

Strengthen Communication

According to 2023 data from Project.co , 68% of businesspeople have wasted time due to communication issues. And only 7% of businesses rate their communication as "excellent." Clearly, effective communication is both difficult and essential to any business.

SMART goals help with effective communication. This is because they're goals that multiple coworkers, teams, and departments can quickly understand. This improves knowledge-sharing, collaborative efforts, and communication.

Help Manage Resources

Proper resource management can reduce costs, make processes more efficient, and increase productivity. But managing resources is tough.

Put simply, a business is a group of people, each with distinct knowledge and experience, working toward individual goals. These individual goals eventually come together to meet common goals, but in the process, things can get a little wonky.

But SMART goals are great for resource management. This is because they offer a structure that makes it easier for teams to see where a process is creating blocks or challenges. This helps teams understand when priorities and resources are out of sync. It also creates a shared purpose that can inspire people to make necessary but difficult changes.

Increase Innovation

Innovation is a process that combines creativity and problem-solving skills to get original ideas. You may have heard the common belief says that creativity requires a lack of boundaries. And some critiques of SMART goals say that they can have negative impacts if goal-setting is too rigid or narrowly defined.

But there's extensive data, including this research from Harvard Business Review , that says constraints often positively impact innovation. SMART goals boost innovation because they create motivational challenges. The motivation comes in part from the constraints teams need to work within.

Enhance Performance

For managers, SMART goals offer a useful framework for improving employee performance. They make progress toward project goals clear. This goal-setting framework can also apply to long-term personal goals for each member of your team.

For individuals, SMART goals can make it easier to balance and track work projects. They can boost performance because they help you:

  • Measure progress
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Build positive momentum

Setting and working toward SMART goals can also help you develop new behaviors that can improve performance.

Let’s take a look at some realistic examples of SMART goals to paint a clearer picture of what they are.

  • Blog Traffic Goal
  • Facebook Video Views Goal
  • Email Subscription Goal
  • Webinar Sign-Up Goal
  • Landing Page Performance Goal
  • Link-Building Strategy Goal
  • Reduce Churn Rate Goal
  • Brand Affinity Goal
  • Podcast Listener Count Goal
  • In-Person Event Attendee Goal

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our blog's traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five to eight times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing two posts a week to three posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing one post a week to two posts a week.
  • Measurable : Our goal is an 8% increase in traffic.
  • Attainable : Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from three to five times a week.
  • Relevant : By increasing blog traffic, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound : End of this month.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five posts per week to eight posts per week.

smart goal example on blog traffic

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 25% increase in views.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our eight most popular topics, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we'll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In six months.
  • SMART Goal: In six months, we'll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in subscribers.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In three months.
  • SMART Goal: In three months, we'll see a 50% increase in the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-Up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 15% increase in sign-ups.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook Messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales have more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By June 1, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By June 1, the day of our webinar, we'll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.

smart goal example on webinar sign-ups

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one-column form to a two-column form.
  • Measurable: My goal is a 30% increase in lead generation.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one-column form versus a two-column form on our highest-traffic landing pages, we discovered that two-column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one-column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now.
  • SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website's organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: Our goal is 40 backlinks to our company homepage.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool , there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: Four months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

7. Reducing Churn Rate Goal

  • Specific: I want to reduce customer churn by 5% for my company because every customer loss is a reflection of our service’s quality and perception.
  • Measurable: Contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide customer support daily for five new customers during their onboarding process.
  • Attainable: Our product offering has just improved and we have the means to invest more into our customer support team, and could potentially have five at-risk customers to upscale monthly.
  • Relevant: We can set up a customer knowledge base to track customers’ progression in the buyer’s journey and prevent churn by contacting them before they lose interest.
  • Time-Bound: In 24 weeks.
  • SMART Goal: In 24 weeks, I will reduce the churn rate by 5% for my company. To do so, we will contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide/invest in customer support to assist five new customers during onboarding daily and track their progress through a customer knowledge base.

8. Brand Affinity Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our podcast listener count as we are trying to establish ourselves as thought leaders in our market.
  • Measurable: A 40% increase in listeners is our goal.
  • Attainable: We can increase our current budget and level our podcaster’s cadence, to have the means to hold insightful conversations for our listeners to tune into.
  • Relevant: We created a podcast and have dedicated a team to source interesting guests, sound mixing, and eye-catching thumbnails to get it started.
  • Time-Bound: In four months.
  • SMART Goal: In four months, we'll see a 40% increase in average listener count in Apple Podcasts by providing our team the budget and cadence to make insightful podcasts with quality sound mixing and eye-catching thumbnails.

9. Podcast Listener Count Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our podcast's listener count by promoting our podcast across social channels. We will post four quotes related to new podcast episodes throughout the month on our Twitter account, and we will post six short videos of our podcast conversations with guests on our Instagram account throughout the month.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 20% increase in podcast listeners.
  • Attainable : Our podcast listener count increased by 5% last month when we published two short videos of our podcast conversation on Instagram.
  • Relevant : By increasing podcast listener count, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our podcast will see a 20% increase in listeners by increasing our social media promotions from two Instagram posts to four Twitter posts and six Instagram posts.

10. In-Person Event Attendee Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost attendance at our upcoming in-person event by 50% by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists each week before the event.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 50% increase in attendees.
  • Attainable : Our attendee number increased by 20% last year when we sent out one email reminder to our subscriber lists.
  • Relevant : By increasing attendee count, we'll increase brand loyalty by providing value to our existing customers, and generate more leads.
  • Time-Bound : August 30.
  • SMART Goal : By the time of our event on August 30th, our attendee number will increase by 50% from where it's at now (250 attendees), by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists.

Now that you’ve seen examples of SMART goals, let’s dive into how to make your own.

How To Make a SMART Goal

  • Use specific wording.
  • Include measurable goals.
  • Aim for realistically attainable goals.
  • Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.
  • Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

How to make a SMART goal: Do’s and Don’ts

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals , keep in mind that they are "specific" in that there's a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. "Get better at my job," isn't a SMART goal because it isn't specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you're a marketing professional, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric that you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email ..." You know exactly who's involved and what you're trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example, instead of saying, "Clifford will boost email marketing experiences," say "Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%."

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be "measurable" in that you can track and quantify the goal's progress. "Increase the blog's traffic from email," by itself, isn't a SMART goal because you can't measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team's progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let's build on the SMART goal we started above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month ... " You know what you're increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative or open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, "Customer service will improve customer happiness," say, "We want the average call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher."

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An "attainable" SMART goal considers the employee's ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It's crucial to base your goals on your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let's add some "attainability" to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month ... " This way, you're not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off course and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, "We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2022," consider something more attainable, like, "We want to increase sales by 150% this year," or "We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase."

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are "relevant" relate to your company's overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And, is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog's email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you're aware of these factors, you’re more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you're using to track the goal's progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relied on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way.

Our SMART goal might instead say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month." This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business's revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Losing Sight of the Company

When your company is doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don't want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, "We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business," say something like, "We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year."

5. Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

A "time-bound" SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same timeframe? If you picked the former, you're right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? "Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August."

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or a really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. "This year, we want to launch a major campaign," say, "In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two."

Make Your SMART Goals SMART-er

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, why it's important, and the framework to create one, it's time to put that information into practice. Whether you're setting goals for a personal achievement or as part of hitting important marketing milestones, it's good to start with what you want to achieve and then reverse-engineer it into a concrete SMART goal.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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13 Personal Smart Goals to Help You Grow

You can get there!

Even if you’ve never sat down and intentionally created a list of goals, you’re likely familiar with working toward milestones. This can be something as small as completing all your work in time to enjoy the weekend or as grand as saving up for a new house, car or large purchase.

Setting goals helps build personal development and achieve success, especially when done strategically. In this article, we’ll define the different types of goals (personal goals, smart goals), examples of each kind of goal and how to set personal smart goals with intention.

What are personal goals?

Personal goals are the achievements you set out to accomplish in the span of your lifetime. These personal goals can be oriented to achieving a particular lifestyle, such as retiring early or investing enough money so that you’re able to earn passive income and work very little – or not at all. They can be family goals – whether that’s starting a family, taking a trip or seeing your children reach certain milestones. They can be career goals – such as working for a company you admire or even starting a business of your own.

Personal goals can be as big or small as you make them. For example, you may have your eye set on a big promotion or purchase as a long-term goal. But personal goals can be achieved in the short term and encompass anything from learning one new recipe each month or saving an allotted amount of money from each paycheck to use for fun or leisure. 

What are smart goals? 

Smart goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Realistic (or Relevant and Time-Bound. George T. Doran coined this method of personal goal setting in the early 1980s. His paper, “ The S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives ,” was meant to give companies a framework for setting and achieving goals. Since the paper’s debut in the 1980s, this goal-setting method has been adopted and adapted by many and has become a widely used way to set personal goals.

How to set personal smart goals

When using the smart goal method, consider these questions for each point in the acronym.

Specific: What are you trying to accomplish? Paint a clear picture of the goal – what it looks like, who it involves and why you need to get there. Why is this something you wish to do or achieve? Get familiar with the motivating factors behind why you want to accomplish this smart goal. When will you work on your goal, and what needs to happen for you to have time to do so? Planning for how you’ll reach your smart goal from a time perspective helps keep you on track.

Measurable: How will you measure the success of your smart goal? Utilizing the specifics above, determine what this achievement will look and feel like and how it will be measured. For example, if purchasing a home is your smart goal, what are the parameters that would indicate success? Is it also finding an affordable mortgage rate? Is it buying a house with certain qualities in a desirable neighborhood? Make sure your smart goal is a measurable goal and clarify what those measurements will be. 

Attainable: Smart goals don’t necessarily have to be small goals. However, if you’re setting a personal smart goal that you have no way of reaching – whether it be lack of tools, knowledge or other boundaries that keep it from being attainable – you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Determine what will be necessary in order for you to achieve the goal you’re setting – then work toward obtaining those resources as your first step. 

Realistic: Is it possible for you to meet the smart goal you’re setting? If the goal is something like starring in a movie – but you have no acting experience or concrete steps to take to achieve it, it’s not likely you’ll complete your smart goal. There’s no harm in dreaming big – but ensuring you have the proper knowledge, resources and training to reach the smart goal you’re setting will make it achievable. If your smart goal isn’t realistic, examine what would need to happen to make it more tangible. 

Timely: Even long-term smart goals need to have target deadlines attached in order to achieve them. George T. Doran’s original paper on smart goals recommends working backward from the date you want to achieve your goal by creating an outline that identifies the critical needs and logistics that need to happen – and when – to hit your smart goal deadline. Having your goal be time bound helps to ground and frame the work that needs to be done in order to achieve success.

Why set smart goals?

There are plenty of benefits to setting smart goals. Here are just a few reasons you should consider adopting a smart goal framework to achieve personal success.

Setting smart goals improves results

Top achieving professionals all have one thing in common – they set goals and work toward them. When you have a vision to work toward, the path to success becomes more transparent and tangible. Having a measurement plan for how you’ll track progress helps identify whether or not you’re on track and allows you to maintain the focus needed in order to get there.

Setting smart goals provides a sense of control

Do you often feel like you have little to no control over what happens in your life each day? We all have daily responsibilities we need to get done, from job demands to paying bills, caring for family and other necessary chores. Having a smart goal to work towards gives us something that we’re uniquely in control of and can achieve with the right tools, time and hard work.

Setting smart goals holds you accountable 

At one point or another, all of us have dreamt up overarching goals we’d love to achieve someday in the abstract. Setting a smart goal transforms a vague goal into something specific and attainable. It makes the goal you’ve been dreaming about feel possible in a way it hadn’t before by making the goal measurable, time bound and concrete.

Setting smart goals motivates you

Knowing you have the power to change your current circumstances and strive for something better is a powerful motivator. Setting a smart goal takes things a step further. Following the smart goal framework gives you the focus and discipline you need to achieve success. 

Smart goal examples

You understand what smart goals are, what they consist of and how to set them. But you’re still feeling stuck or unsure of where to start with your smart goals, reviewing smart goal examples can be helpful. Here are a few smart goal examples to help get you started.

Increase your visibility at work

Particularly in a remote workforce, standing out and getting noticed can be tricky, making this smart goal example important. This smart goal is specific – but there are many different methods for getting there. For example, speaking up at least once during each meeting may be your starting point. This smart goal is attainable and realistic. To achieve it, you may spend extra time preparing for each meeting on your calendar and come ready with the talking point you want to discuss. At the end of each week, you can measure your progress by how many meetings you were able to speak at, what the outcome was and the number of people you’ve been noticed by at each meeting.

Learn a new hobby in two months

This smart goal example is relevant and time bound. It’s essential to be specific in the case of this smart goal – with so many hobby options out there, choosing one that’s realistic and attainable to learn is critical. It’s also important to understand why this specific hobby is the one you’re choosing. For example, if you’re working in a very technical field, are you setting this smart goal to tap into your more creative side? Or maybe you’re looking for a hobby that could earn you additional income, such as making a specific craft you can sell. Using the smart goal template , paint a clear picture of when, how and why you’ll learn this new hobby – as well as what success will look like to you at the end of your two-month process.

Become a regular volunteer

How do you define regularly volunteering? It’s up to you to set the parameters of this smart goal. Think about factors such as how much time you have to devote to volunteering, access to transportation that will get you to and from your volunteer work and what kind of organization would be most fulfilling for you to spend your time at. In addition to the time spent volunteering, determine how else you might measure this goal and what time frame you want to achieve this in.

Wake up earlier

The easiest way to get more time into your day is to wake up earlier than you usually do. When setting this smart goal, starting small and working your way up to the optimal time you’re looking to rise each day is vital. Determine a realistic, attainable amount of time to set your alarm clock earlier – this can be as small as 15 minutes to start. Using the “timely” porting of the smart goal acronym, work backward from the date you want to achieve waking up earlier by, and determine how you’ll get there by plotting out how much earlier you’ll rise in the weeks or months leading up to the final goal of your ideal morning routine .

Improve your time management 

Similarly, just because you have extra time doesn’t necessarily mean you’re able to use it wisely. If your smart goal is to become more productive, determine when you’d like to have this goal achieved, why it’s important to you and the barriers to entry that you see. This can be distractions throughout the day or putting more structure into your workday when you complete tasks.

Take 10 minutes to reflect on your wins of the week

At the end of a long week, it’s all too easy to focus on what went wrong and what could have gone better. Making a smart goal to look at what did work for you can help you improve the weeks to come. This smart goal is easily attainable and realistic has a measurable time frame. Taking time to reflect on your wins helps you become more self-aware, which will improve many areas of your life and help you stay motivated.

Limit social media use

personal smart goals examples

This is a great smart goal example for students as well as anyone who finds themselves aimlessly scrolling through social media. There can be a variety of specific motivators behind this smart goal – from increasing productivity to improving sleep and even better self-esteem since you’ll be spending less time comparing yourself to others. Depending on how heavy of a social media user you are, the time frame for achieving this smart goal can vary greatly. But using the smart goal framework to determine why this is important, how you will measure success and the date at which you’re looking to have this habit kicked by will help yield positive results.

Organize one room in your house each week

Living in an organized and clutter-free space comes with a host of mental health benefits, which makes this smart goal example a compelling one to consider. Notice that instead of setting a goal to organize the entire house, this smart goal is broken down into a more achievable, realistic one. When setting this smart goal, you can make this goal even more manageable by assessing how many hours each day per week you’ll spend organizing the room you’re working on for that week. This smart goal also makes it easy to work back on from a time perspective – the number of rooms in your home will dictate how many weeks it will take to achieve.

Make one 20-minute phone call to a friend or family member each week

Hectic schedules can make it easy for us to lose touch with the people we care about. Reconnecting with the people that matter in your life is a crucial smart goal example – one that can be reached by setting aside time each week to dedicate to it. When working toward this smart goal, get specific on who you most want to connect with, then find out when you’re both free to speak. This can be done efficiently thanks to scheduling tools and online calendars. To ensure you stick to this goal, consider sending out calendar invites to those you’re planning to speak to in order to help you stay on track.

Meditate for five minutes every day

Mediation has plenty of health benefits – but blocking out large amounts of time to devote to this practice can be challenging. This smart goal example makes meditation more achievable and realistic by devoting only five minutes per day to the practice. Even the busiest of people can spare five minutes – and even if you’re not successful the first time you try meditating, making it a point to give it a try for at least five minutes every day is a measurable way to see improvement and progress. 

Build an emergency fund that covers six months of expenses

No one likes to think about the worst-case scenario. But being prepared in the event of an unexpected job loss or emergency is a smart goal to make. Budgeting is another chore no one looks forward to doing – but focusing on identifying how much you could be saving makes looking at your overall budget less overwhelming. Measure the expenses you accrue each month, then measure how much you can save each paycheck. From there, it will be easy to see the path forward for how long it’ll take to save up enough money to cover you in case of an emergency.

Plan healthy meals during the workweek

Time is often a barrier for those looking to eat healthily. This smart goal makes doing so more achievable by setting specific parameters for which meals you’ll plan how many times per week this will happen. Determine when your meal planning and preparation will occur – whether it’s all at once on a Sunday or each evening prior to getting you prepared for the following day.

Add one new contact to your network each week

If you’re looking to build and grow your career, there’s no better smart goal than networking. Instead of setting a smart goal to “network more,” adding one person to your network each week makes the goal more attainable and realistic, as well as measurable. However, clicking the “add” button on LinkedIn is not enough for this smart goal. Determine how much time you’ll spend searching for someone who’s a viable network connection, how long it will take you to write a compelling introductory message and the parameters for which you’re measuring the quality of this new contact. 

Whether you’re striving for personal growth, a successful career, self-improvement or other overarching goals to become the best version of yourself, setting smart goals can help you get there. Write smart goals down, get specific on why they’re important and how you’ll achieve them. Remember to make sure the smart goals you set are relevant and time bound, measurable goals that you’re able to achieve. Some of the smart goals you set out to complete may be hard to accomplish at first, but you’re sure to achieve success with the right attitude and hard work.

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SMART goals

How To Leverage SMART Goals in Employee Performance Management

  • Sara London
  • October 27, 2022

SMART goals are a versatile, pragmatic, and realistic way to meet deadlines and accomplish tasks. But have you ever considered that SMART goals could also be an effective tool in people management? Dr. Heidi K. Gardner , consultant, researcher, and author of Smarter Collaboration , can point to why SMART goals lead to successful employees and successful organizations – read on to find out more.

What are SMART goals?

Dr. Gardner says that over the past decade, her team at Harvard University has been researching how the most successful companies accomplish their goals and achieve strategic business outcomes. Ultimately, she found that the highest-performing leaders use SMART goals – an acronym for goals that are:

“It delineates whose expertise is absolutely needed and whose isn’t, and to design project plans to make sure those essential experts are accountable for staying on track,” Gardner tells Hive. “This hyper-intentional way of designing work by starting with the end in mind is fundamental to what we call smarter collaboration, and it leads to significant, quantifiable advantages.”

What are SMART goals for?

SMART goals, Gardner says, are for anyone – for leaders, managers, and employees. They work well with internally-focused or externally-focused goals, and they even work for performance goals, which can serve as “mini projects” underneath a larger project. In a marketing context, Gardener says, an example of a SMART goal could be: “By February 2023, our company will send out a high-quality newsletter to our top 2,000 CRM contacts in the transportation sector.” This gives a specific time frame, a measurable goal that’s achievable, relevant to the company’s needs, and time-bound, as there’s a deadline.

“While this project goal should align with a larger company goal, say, to boost sales by a certain percentage in one customer segment, its specificity helps leaders know who should contribute to the project. In this case, it might be a marketing copywriter, graphic designer, database administrator, copy editor, and the segment’s marketing manager,” she says. “An organization-wide perspective helps foster collaborative working: a key ingredient to better financial, customer, and talent outcomes.”

However, every SMART goal isn’t for everyone, as sometimes, too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth. Utilizing the right people at the right time helps SMART goals get accomplished. Assigning the right roles to the right people helps achieve SMART goals more efficiently .

“No one knows everything,” Gardner says. “But when we know as many people as possible who know different things, we can tap into this expertise when it’s beneficial to answer questions and reach heights we never thought possible. Yes, through smarter collaboration, we can reach and surpass our goals, generating better solutions for clients, higher sales and revenue, and more satisfied and engaged employees.”

Using SMART goals in employee performance management

SMART goals aren’t just for projects and company goals. They’re also for employee performance management, as they’re a great way to ensure that everyone is working to the best of their abilities. Gardner says that managers should, in fact, co-create SMART goals for and with those who directly report to them.

These goals will increase personal, professional, and organizational accountability and keep employees on track. Progress towards achieving these goals can be measured using software to manage employee development or more comprehensive goal-tracking tools .

“For example, one SMART goal for a client care representative might be to increase new-customer satisfaction ratings by 10% in six months—coinciding with their higher-ups’ goals of doing the same,” Gardner says. “The representative would then be incentivized to use all the tools and resources at their disposal—including colleagues’ relevant expertise—to boost satisfaction rates. This may involve reaching out to coworkers in research and design, supply chain, and manufacturing, for example, to answer pointed questions about a product’s composition and functioning.”

Gardner also says that SMART goals can provide managers with a barometer of their employee’s work performance so they’re able to catch performance lags early and intervene appropriately. 

“Beyond just trouble-shooting, managers are encouraged to train their employees on the various aspects of smart collaboration—including conflict resolution, agility, and communicating one’s collaborative value.”

Re-imagining performance through SMART goals

Implementing SMART goals with your employees goes beyond co-creating SMART goals into goal management. More than anything, Gardner says, ensure that the importance and value of the goals are communicated to employees. Rather than communicating through inputs, communicate through worth – and when you’re making SMART goals with employees, keep that mindset at the forefront.

“Many managers set goals around quotas, such as the number of articles that are written or time that’s spent responding to customer inquiries or Excel records that are completed. But the reality is this means nothing if it doesn’t translate into a meaningful achievement for the company. Your subordinates may be really efficient at a task, but if it is the wrong task or performed in a low-quality way, say, without input from experts in other areas, you’ll have simply wasted time and money.” 

Rather than putting outputs at the top of your priority list, focus on deliverables, both tangible and intangible, such as productivity or time management . By seeing how well their work aligns with their SMART goals, you can assess their output secondarily, as it will improve if their processes improve.

“This helps alleviate a concern that so many managers have today,” Gardner says, “whether their remote employees are adequately performing.”

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A Dummy Proof Guide to Writing SMART Goals in 2024

So… it’s time to set your business goals and career objectives for the year.

Some of us look forward to this opportunity to start the year fresh with interesting and productive goals. Others may get a little overwhelmed with the prospect of setting goals and crafting action plans.

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Setting goals, especially effective goals, is not always easy. In fact, if it’s a bit difficult, chances are you’re on the right track. When setting a career objective or a professional goal , it’s important to dig deep and ask questions that will push you to craft your goals using a critical and strategic lens.

How To Write SMART Goals

SMART goals help you do just that by providing 5 criteria points to consider when creating goals , whether personal or professional. Keep reading to learn more about what SMART goals are, how to write SMART goals, and most importantly, how to achieve your goals.

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⭐️ PRO-TIP: When setting SMART goals, consider creating a visual representation or writing them down in a prominent place. This not only serves as a constant reminder of your objectives but also allows you to track your progress easily. Visualizing your goals can enhance motivation and help you stay on course to achieve them.

🛑 For more tips on goal-setting and growing your professional development skills, subscribe to The Assist for free.

What is a SMART Goal?


A SMART goal is an objective-setting methodology in which you craft goals to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. By creating goals that include each of these five criteria points, you’re setting yourself up for success because your goals will be clear, strategic, and most importantly — attainable.

Why Should You Use SMART Goals?

SMART goals ensure that you’re not setting lofty or unfocused objectives that will likely result in failure. If your goals meet all 5 SMART criteria points (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you’re instantly giving yourself a head start in meeting those goals because they are well-thought-out, tangible objectives with a clear success plan. An objective that doesn’t account for SMART criteria is more of a wish or aspiration, rather than a realistic goal.

How Do You Write SMART Goals?

Write Down Your Goals

ASK QUESTIONS. Ask yourself questions. Ask your team questions.

What are some key personal and professional goals that will help you and the overall company succeed?

Do you need additional  corporate training  to accomplish these goals?

The answers to all of these questions will help you set SMART goals. You don’t want to just generate ideas or concepts. You want to use those ideas and concepts as a launching pad to dig deeper and create specific and measurable business objectives that will benefit both you and the business.

S : Specific

Make your goal specific in nature.

You don’t want to create a vague goal that leaves room for varying interpretations. Consider the “W” questions when crafting a specific goal– Who, What, When, Where, and Why. Once you identify answers to these “W” questions, you’ll have a clear, specific, and actionable goal.

M : Measurable

Anyone can create a goal, but how do you know if the goal is actually achieved?

What are the metrics for success? Make sure your goal is quantifiable so that you can easily track your progress and set achievement milestones. For example, increasing sales lead conversions by 10% compared to prior year is much more measurable than simply setting a goal of converting leads.

Pro-Tip: If you’re an Administrative Assistant, check out our  guide to setting measurable goals  specifically for Admins!

A : Achievable

So you have a specific and measurable goal in mind, but can you realistically achieve this goal?

Are there any other teams that are integral to the success of your goal? If your goal is collaborative in nature, do you have the resources needed? Do you have the skills and the bandwidth to fully accomplish this objective? These are all key questions you must ask yourself when crafting an Achievable goal. Depending on the answers, you may need to edit or fine tune your goal so that it is indeed attainable.

R : Relevant

Does this goal align with overall company goals and will the results directly benefit the company?

If you answer ‘Yes’ to both of these, then congrats! You’ve crafted a goal that is Relevant. If the answer is “No,” then rework your goal. Start by reviewing your company and/or department goals for the year. Then, revisit your goal through the lens of these overarching company objectives and make the necessary adjustments to align your goal with those objectives.

T : Time-Bound

Without a set time frame for accomplishing your goal, you’re increasing the chance of failure because there is no structure or time constraints in place.

When crafting a SMART goal, it’s extremely important to have a target date for completion in order to create a sense of urgency. Keep in mind what you can realistically accomplish by the target date and list out the key deliverables.

Pro-Tip from The Assist : You should also identify milestone dates, including a midpoint check-in, to track how you’re pacing against the target completion date.

What are Some Examples of SMART Goals?

1) weak goal example: i will secure new business..

➪ Make it SMART:

  • Specific : I’m going to fine tune my sales pitch in order to secure contracts with  new clients.
  • Measurable : The goal is to increase my new business sales by 10% compared to the prior fiscal year.
  • Achievable : My sales assistant has conducted market research and identified over 250 qualified leads. Our sales strategy team has also released new sales material geared specifically to introducing the business to new clients and offering exclusive sign-up bonus deals.
  • Relevant : One of the key overall business objectives this year is to grow our new business sales revenue.
  • Time-bound : I’m aiming to increase my year over year new business sales by 5% within the next 6 months, so that I’m pacing towards 10% (or higher) in increased new business sales by year end.

SMART Goal: By using an improved sales pitch on only vetted & qualified leads, I will secure new business. I aim to increase my new business sales by 10% compared to last fiscal year, with a midpoint check-in to ensure I’ve reached at least a 5% increase within the first 6 months.

2) Weak Goal Example: I will be a  good manager  and motivate my team .

  • Specific : I’m going to attend training courses offered by the company to sharpen my Management skills and learn how to better motivate my direct reports.
  • Measurable : The goal is to take 5 courses related to Management and motivational skills. Once courses are completed and learnings are implemented, I expect to see a lift in team productivity.  Specifically, my team missed a couple key publishing deadlines last year. This year, my team will meet all quarterly deadlines.
  • Achievable : My company offers an extensive course catalogue on our internal training site. I’m able to browse and select the most relevant courses. I’ve identified 10 potential courses that are geared towards honing key skills for Managers and motivating teams .
  • Relevant : One of the key overall business objectives this year is to  increase productivity  in the workplace. Through effectively managing and motivating my team, I aim to increase my team’s productivity levels.
  • Time-bound : I’m aiming to complete all of my Management training classes within the next 4 months, so I have the remainder of the year to implement my learnings. I will also set mid-way milestone check-in dates prior to each quarterly publishing deadline to ensure we’re pacing to deliver.

SMART Goal: I will take 5 training courses in the next 4 months to help boost my Management and motivational skills. By implementing my learnings, my team’s productivity levels will increase resulting in our team hitting all 4 quarterly publishing deadlines this year.

3) Weak Goal Example: I will complete the redesign of our company app. 

  • Specific : Our company app interface has not been updated since its’ launch in 2010. We’ve received complaints that the User Interface is not aesthetically pleasing or user-friendly. With the help of our software team,  I’m going to redesign and relaunch our app.
  • Measurable : The goal is to increase app downloads by 50% compared to last year. A secondary goal is to increase our app rating from 2 stars to 4 stars or above.
  • Achievable : I have a dedicated resource lead in each department that is integral to successfully redesigning and relaunching the app. My role is to project manage and ensure each team member is hitting required deadlines and contributing quality content. I have previous project management experience that will help me navigate this critical project.
  • Relevant : One of the key overall business objectives this year is to improve the user experience on our app and improve our app download rates.
  • Time-bound : I’m aiming to have the internal test app environment live within the next 5 months. This will allow enough time for each department to provide feedback. Final version for all department sign off will be ready by the end of Q3 for an early Q4 launch, just in time for the Holidays.

SMART Goal: With the help of key department stakeholders, I will redesign and relaunch our company app by the beginning of Q4. This new and improved app will result in a 50% increase in downloads compared to prior year and a 4-star or above user rating.

Pro-Tip : If you’re an Executive Assistant, check out Mastering the Art of Setting Executive Assistant Goals  for additional SMART goal examples and guidance!

How Do You Execute SMART Goals?

1. write down your goals..

Now that you have these amazing SMART goals in mind, don’t let them slip away. Write. Them. Down. Writing SMART goals down helps cement the goals and allows you an additional opportunity to fine tune your goals as needed. Think of writing down your goals as the very first step on your path to tackling and achieving those goals.

We suggest using  monday.com  because they offer helpful templates to get your started in setting in project-based objectives. They even offer an HR solution where you can conduct performance reviews from beginning to end.

Pro-Tip from The Assist : Start keeping a diary of actions, goals and accomplishments (this will feel like a gold mine when it’s time to complete your performance review or ask for a raise). Emphasize actions in your control instead of results outside your direct control. A good example: “I saved the company $20K this quarter because I negotiated with our vendors to cut costs.”

2. Track your progress and create regular check-ins for yourself.

Progress Bar

It’s far too easy to create your objectives at the beginning of the year and let them sit on a shelf as you go about your routine job responsibilities. Instead, set yourself up for success by tracking progress towards your goals and setting regular check-ins. While they may sound a little daunting, there’s no need to start from scratch and create your own progress tracker templates. Take advantage of the plethora of  project management tools  and platforms available in the market to help you easily monitor progress and set check-in milestones all in one place.

We suggest using Monday.com’s platform for project tracking and check-ins because their user-friendly interface will keep you and your team on track to meet your goals. Try using their  Gantt feature  to plan and track progress, and set milestones for your key projects.

3. Find accountability buddies.

Accomplishing your goals, whether professional or personal, is always easier (and more fun) when you have accountability buddies. Accountability buddies help keep you motivated and on track to achieve your goals. Maybe someone is working closely on a key project with you?

Or maybe you have a mentor in the company who has experience related to one of your goals? These contacts could be great opportunities to fill an accountability buddy role. If you’re managing a team, think of yourself as the ultimate accountability buddy for your team members. Try using some  motivational quotes  to keep your  employees engaged and focused on reaching their collective goals.

Pro-Tip: If you’re looking for thousands of uplifting professionals to hold you accountable to your goals and professional development, consider joining The Assist fam. Four times week, you’ll get tips on how to work smarter, not harder, backed with built in camaraderie.

The Assist

4. Celebrate your wins.


Yes, it’s lovely to celebrate the big wins and accomplishments at year end once your goals have been achieved. But it’s also important to recognize the wins along the way that led to those accomplishments. Celebrating these smaller milestone accomplishments will keep your team feeling appreciated and motivated to keep up their hard work. With tons of  ways to reward your employees  for their accomplishments, why wouldn’t you want to celebrate the wins and keep your team enthused!

We suggest using  Bonusly  to recognize your team’s wins because they offer a one-stop platform for both employee recognition and employee rewards. Their platform encourages both peer-to-peer and manager-employee shout outs and integrates with existing business technology such as Slack and Workday.

What Are Some Examples of SMART Goal Templates?

1)  smart goals worksheet.

goal statement using smart

This template takes you through the process of transforming an idea or initial goal into a SMART goal by asking pointed questions related to each of the 5 SMART goal criteria points. As you reach the end of the worksheet, you’re left with a thoughtfully crafted SMART goal.

2) Fractus Learning SMART Goal Template

goal statement using smart

This template is simple, streamlined, and has the bare bones to organize your thoughts to craft a SMART goal. This format of this template works well for both professional and personal goals.

3) Vertex42 SMART Goals Template

goal statement using smart

This detailed template is split into three parts. The first part focuses on crafting your specific goal and ensuring it ticks all of the SMART criteria points. The second section takes goal setting a step further by asking you to outline the key steps needed to reach your goal. The last section is all about measurement and provides a data table for you to keep a progress log.

4) Weekdone SMART Goals Template

goal statement using smart

This template is great to use either before you’ve started crafting your SMART goal or after you’ve crafted it to double check that your goal does indeed have strategic answers to all the questions raised. You can find similar templates on your company’s goal-setting software tool if you want to customize your template or manage tasks electronically.

5) Peoplegoal SMART Goals Template

goal statement using smart

This two page template takes you through the steps of creating a concise and defined SMART goal to start. Then shifts focus to tracking goal progress including action items, obstacles and support that may be needed to achieve this goal. It also includes a milestone section so you can celebrate the wins along the way.

People Also Ask These Questions About How To Write SMART Goals

Q: what is the difference between okrs and smart goals.

  • A: Both SMART goals and OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) are objective setting methodologies that result in structured and focused goals. OKRs typically go a step beyond the SMART goal criteria by doing a deep dive into how progress will be measured and what are the key results that will occur as a direct result of accomplishing this particular objective.

Q: What does the SMART acronym stand for?

  • Measureable

Q: Why are SMART goals important in personal and professional development?

  • A: SMART goals are essential in personal and professional development because they provide a clear and structured framework for setting and achieving objectives. By making goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, individuals can enhance their focus, motivation, and accountability, leading to more successful and meaningful progress in their endeavors.

Q: How can you ensure that a goal is attainable when setting SMART goals?

  • A: To ensure a goal is attainable in the SMART framework, it’s crucial to evaluate whether you have the necessary resources, skills, and support to accomplish it. Additionally, breaking larger goals into smaller, manageable steps can make them more achievable, as it allows you to track your progress and adjust your efforts as needed.

Q: What are some common pitfalls to avoid when setting SMART goals?

  • A: Common pitfalls to avoid when setting SMART goals include making them too vague or unrealistic, neglecting to set a specific timeframe, and failing to periodically review and adjust your goals as circumstances change. Additionally, overloading yourself with too many goals at once can lead to burnout and decreased effectiveness, so it’s important to prioritize and focus on the most critical objectives.

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38 Examples of SMART Goals for Students

SMART Goals examples for students

The SMART Goals framework, also written as S.M.A.R.T Goals or SMART Objectives, is a template for setting specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based goals.

While originally used in leadership and corporate management, the framework is now extensively used in education to help students to set personal and academic goals for themselves.

The following examples of SMART goals for students show how students can set achievable goals by following the five elements of the framework.

SMART Goals Example

For the SMART framework, a student should set one goal that meets five clear criteria. The goal should be:

  • Specific – Be clear about exactly what the goal is and what will be done to achieve it. Consider giving details about what, when, where, why, and how.
  • Measurable – Make sure you have a way to assess whether you have achieved your goal.
  • Attainable – State how you believe reaching the goal is within your power.
  • Relevant – State how the goal will help you to meet your overall goals as a student.
  • Time-Based – You need to set a time by which you will complete your goal to keep yourself accountable.

SMART Goals Template for Students

The student should write down their goal in a quote above the table then enter an explanation of how their goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

smart goals template

Get the Google Docs Template Here

Goal: Write your goal above the table. Carefully think about your goal and fill out the sentence with details that will ensure that it is S.M.A.R.T.

SMART Goals for Students

1. get an a in my next essay.

“I will get an A in my current essay in my Psychology class.”

2. Improve my Research Skills

“I will improve my research skills by using library resources and taking notes from the recommended readings for my course. I will do this every Friday afternoon for 3 weeks. I will aim for a subjective statement on my end-of-semester feedback about my research skills.”

3. Type at 60 Words per Minute

“I will learn to type at 60 words per minute within two months.”

4. Study 5 Days a Week for 5 Weeks

“I will study for my math class for one hour each afternoon Monday to Friday for 5 weeks.”

5. Improve my Productivity

“I will improve my productivity by using a Pomodoro timer when studying and closing all other tabs on my computer. I will do this every time I study for 2 months.”

6. Improve my Focus

“I will improve my focus during class this term by leaving my phone in my bag, sitting alone instead of with friends, and ensuring I turn up well-hydrated and rested.”

7. Memorize 100 flashcards within 3 weeks

“I will create a deck of 100 flashcards related to my Spanish course and memorize all 100 flashcards within 3 weeks by spending 20 minutes per day on the task.”

8. Complete my Assigned Book for Class

“I will finish reading the book that has been assigned by my teacher within 5 weeks.”

9. Obtain the Confidence to Give a Public Speech

“I will obtain the confidence to give a public speech by practicing speaking from note cards in front of a mirror and friends for the next 3 weeks.”

10. Re-Submit my Essay for a Higher Grade

“I will use the feedback provided on my essay to re-submit for a higher grade within the 2-week timeframe I have been given by my teacher.”

11. Follow a Study Calendar for the Next 5 Weeks

“I will use a study calendar that states when and what I should study. I will do this for 5 days a week for 5 weeks.”

12. Borrow One Book per Month from the Library

“I will borrow one book per month from the library for six months and read it fully in order to deepen my knowledge of sociology for my sociology class.”

13. Complete my Assignments 2 Weeks Before Due Date

“I will complete all assignments 2 weeks before the due dates so I have 2 weeks of free time to edit the work without stress.”

14. Maintain a Study Journal for 15 Weeks

“I will keep a daily study journal Monday to Friday for 15 weeks that will record what I studied, notes on key things I need to revise, and how long I studied. This will help me reflect on my improvement over time.”

15. Minimize Study Stress

“I will minimize the amount of stress I’m experiencing by exercising an hour a day, only studying for a maximum of one hour per day, and meditating for 15 minutes after each study session. I will do this for 5 weeks.”

SMART Goals Examples for High School Students

16. apply for five colleges.

“I will apply for five colleges within 3 months.”

17. Go to Four University Open Days

“I will go to four university open days within the next 2 months to learn more about the universities and see which one I would prefer.”

18. Study for an Hour Before Class Daily

“I will study for one hour between 8 am and 9 am daily before class Monday to Friday. I will study for the class that I will be sitting that day and keep a journal of progress.”

19. Maintain a Regular Sleep Routine

“I will sleep for 9 hours a day by making sure I get into bed by 10 pm every night and set an alarm for 7 am each morning. This will keep me fresh for classes.”

20. Research Five Potential Career Options

“I will spend 3 hours every Thursday night researching a potential career option for 5 weeks straight. At the end of the 5th week, I will rank all the career options based on my research.”

21. Have Three Meetings with my Careers Advisor 

“I will book in three meetings with my careers advisor over the next six months to check in and re-evaluate my thoughts about what I want to do after I finish high school.”

SMART Goals Examples for University Students

22. decide upon a major for my degree.

“I will lock in a major with my advisor by the end of the month and select the appropriate courses for next semester.”

23. Meet Each Instructor in Open Office Hours Once per Semester

“I will meet each of my instructors during their open office hours on Week 8 of the semester to go over my essay drafts.”

24. Meet with my Advisor for Feedback on my Progress 3 Times per Year

“I will meet with my advisor to check in on my progress in my degree 3 times this year. I will meet her in March, July, and September.”

25. Attend One Library Skills Seminar per Month

“I will attend one library skills seminar per month until I have attended all the training sessions they have on offer. This should take 6 months and help me incrementally develop my academic skills.”

26. Meet with my Study Group Weekly All Semester

“I will meet with my study group at 2.30 pm every Tuesday in the library for one hour to compare notes about our studies. We will also meet to check each other’s drafts during this period when necessary.”

27. Complete All Homework Tasks by Wednesday each Week

“I will complete my homework tasks by Wednesday each week this semester. To do this, I will remain at the university library on Tuesdays from 12 noon onwards.”

28. Turn up to Class on Time

“I will turn up to class five minutes before class begins for the entire semester in order to change my habit of being late. To make this happen, I will take the 8.05 am bus each morning.”

29. Apply for Five Summer Internships

“I will apply for five summer internships by the end of next week.”

See more SMART internship goals here.

30. Apply for Five Part-Time Jobs in my Career Field

“I will apply for five part-time jobs in my career field by the end of next week.”

31. Write 400 Words per Day for my Essay

“I will write 400 words per day for 5 days to get my first draft of my essay complete.”

SMART Goals Examples for Online Students

32. post five forum responses per week.

“I will log into my online course between 4 pm and 5 pm each weekday to read a forum task and post a 100-word response on the discussion board. I will continue this for the rest of the semester.”

33. Re-watch my Online Lectures and Take Notes for my Essay

“I will re-watch the eight one-hour online lectures for my course. I will watch one per day between 9 am and 10 am and take notes daily on anything relevant to the essay I’m writing.”

34. Reply to Three other People’s Forum Comments per Week

“I will reply to three forum comments on my online discussion board per week for the next three weeks in order to engage with other students in my class.”

SMART Goals Examples for International and Exchange Students

35. speak only in spanish for a whole day.

“I will speak only in Spanish for the whole day during my exchange at Barcelona University.”

See a Full List of Communication Goals Here

36. Apply for an Exchange Scholarship by May 1st

“I will apply for an exchange scholarship to get funding to go to Barcelona for a semester. This application will be a 1000 word essay and completed by May 1st.”

37. Join a Cultural Club at my new Unviersity

“I will join one cultural club at my university by the end of the social club sign-up day tomorrow.”

38. Apply for a Work Visa for after I Graduate so I can Stay Here

“My goal is to apply for a work visa by 5 pm on the 30th of December so I can stay in the country after I have completed my degree.”

The SMART framework is valuable when setting educational goals because it helps you to articulate exactly what your goal is. The five criteria within the framework will force students to set goals that can be clearly explained and are achievable. By setting SMART goals, students can see greater levels of success whether it’s short-term goals or long-term goals and have a clearer idea about what they need to do to meet their goals.


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons

5 thoughts on “38 Examples of SMART Goals for Students”

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I have tried it before but soon forgot about it, which means I have made my calendar or schedule with a goal on top and worked toward it, and then I forgot to do it again for my next semester’s class. but it does not hurt trying again one more time.

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This method is useful and essential. That why I have been using it since high school.

' src=

This method is very significant in my study I have been using it.

' src=

This method is essential and productive, i still use it even today to achieve my goals.

' src=

One of the best online learning articles I have come across. Rarely give comments at over 69yrs and a lot working in education. But you are clear, and straight to the point. Good job! Recommended.

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