How to Set SMART Goals

Part 1 of 5: Be Specific

1. Make your goal focused and well-defined. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.

2. When setting your goal, make sure you can answer the 6 “W” questions: Who, What, When, Where, Which, and Why. The more specific a goal is, the more you can find ways of reaching your target. Ask questions such as:

  • Who is involved?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Where will this happen? Identify a location.
  • When will this happen? Establish a time frame.
  • Which requirements and restraints will be part of the process? Identify them.
  • Why am I setting this goal? Jot down the specific reasons and benefits of accomplishing this goal.

3. Know the difference between a specific goal and a vague goal. For example, there is a difference between saying, “I want to lose weight” and “I want to lose 30 pounds.” When you set a goal to lose 30 pounds, you can measure your progress as you decrease your weight from 30 pounds, down to 25, down to 20, and so on. This will help you see progress and motivate you to keep pushing forward. Other examples of specific and vague goals:

  • Vague: Get in shape for the summer.
  • Specific: Join a hot yoga studio and practice 4 times a week over the next 3 months.
  • Vague: Own a home.
  • Specific: Put 50% of income into savings account for the next 12 months and talk to a realtor

Part 2 of 5: Have a concrete set of criteria for measuring progress

1. Have a yardstick for measuring outcomes. Know that a goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard. Put concrete numbers in your goals to know if you’re falling behind or if you’re on track.
2. Ask questions such as:

  • How much?
  • How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • What is at the finish line?
3. Set a daily reminder to track and measure your progress:

  • Keep a journal, put up a whiteboard at the office, use your smartphone to download a tracking app — these are all tangible ways to track your development.

Part 3 of 5: Make the goal Attainable

1. Draft realistic goals. Based on the present restrictions such as your schedule, workload, and knowledge, do you believe you can attain the objective you set? If not, then set a different goal, one that is attainable for you in the present.
2. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you prepared to make the commitment to reach your target?
  • Are you willing to dramatically alter or at least tweak aspects your life?
  • Is there a more achievable target you are willing to to work for?

Part 4 of 5: Make the goal Relevant

1. Make the goal relevant to your life’s reality. For instance, if a weight-loss buddy thinks your goal should be to compete in a ballroom dancing competition, but you hate ballroom dancing and have stage fright, choose a different goal.
2. Set goals that are realistic. If you are 40 pounds overweight and haven’t exercised in 10 years, it’d be a pretty unrealistic goal to run a triathlon with 2 months of training. So set a goal you have a realistic chance of achieving.

Part 5 of 5: Step Five: Ground the goal within a TIME FRAME

1. SMART goals should be time-bound, meaning they should have a deadline or there should be a date for completion. Setting a deadline reinforces the seriousness of the goal in your mind. It motivates you to take action. When you don’t set a timeline, there is no internal pressure to accomplish the goal, so it gets put in the back burner.
2. Have a sense of urgency. If you want to raise your credit score to 720, when do you want to raise it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe (example: Raise credit from 700 to 720 in 12-18 months), then you’ve set your mind into motion to begin working on the goal.
3. Within your established time frame, ask yourself:

  • What can I do TODAY to reach my goal?
  • What can I do 3 weeks from now to reach my goal?
  • What can I do 3 months from now to reach my goal?


  • List down the important milestones along the way to your target. You can pair each milestone with a reward.
  • Remember, your goal will be attainable if you truly believe that it can be accomplished.
  • Try making a list of people, things and general resources you’ll need to achieve your goal.
  • Use the power of visualization. What would it feel like to taste, smell, touch your goal?


  • Don’t have too many goals where nothing is a priority. You’ll never feel like you are accomplishing anything and you will likely always feel overwhelmed.
  • If it’s a fitness goal you are seeking to achieve, break down the larger, long-term goal to smaller, short-term goals to avoid hurting yourself.
  • Keep in mind that a high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal can also lower your motivation.