What is a SMART Goal?

Last Updated: April 28, 2024

What is a SMART Goal?

You could be at the stage of your life right now wherein you are pressured to make clear goals for yourself. You could be a high school graduate and your parents and relatives are asking you what degree program you are taking and some are even giving unsolicited pieces of advice on what you should do with your life. You could be a fresh graduate and it seems like everyone in the family and every single one of your batchmates is already asking you what your plans are for your future or what career path you are and you should be taking. You could be a newlywed and it seems like every member of your family and your friends are asking if you are going to have a baby soon or are you going to focus on having a stable job before getting a baby. You could be anyone facing the pressure of having clear goals when, honestly, all you have right now are broad smart goals and you still do not have any specific method on how you are going to achieve it. Another worse situation is that you do not have any goals at all, in which, you would be badly criticized by the people around you for having none.

The pressure next to having at least one career goal in your life is how you are going to achieve it. Having unclear plans and methods on how you are going to achieve your goal is as worse as having no goal at all because it only means that you are not yet the master and the controller of your life. You and every single being in this world are ought to be the captain of the ship that is your own life. Plotting your goals in life is like deciding what your destination or your end purpose in life is. If you do not have a clear and detailed map on your journey towards your destination, it is only as good as getting lost in the middle of an uncharted ocean on a starless night sky for eternity.

You might have goals that are too general. For example, you want to be a teacher; that kind of goal is too general or too vague. You can make it specific by enrolling education as your degree program, pass the board exam, and study again for a master’s degree. However, no matter how defined your goals can be, there are instances wherein you just cannot control the circumstances around you. You need something that gives and keeps you on the right track. Make your goals “smart” with the help of SMART goal setting.

What is SMART goal setting?

SMART goal setting stands for S-pecific, M-easurable, A-chievable, R-ealistic, and T-imely. Having a SMART goal setting gives a visible structure and outline to your goals so that you will easily track your progress towards achieving it. You will no longer have vague plans on how you can achieve your life goals because if you set your goals the SMART and smart way, you can make clear milestones, identified objectives, and estimated goal attainability. Every goal that is set the SMART way can help your dreams move closer to reality.

How to Make Your Goals SMART?


Making your goals specific is like writing a news story. A news article follows a structure in which it answers the 5 Ws and 1 H questions: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions. For a news that answers the said questions, it is reliable and credible and if your goals answer the same questions as well, the same result also goes for your goals.

For example, you want to get in shape because summer could be three months away, you begin with the first question and that is the “Who” and the rest follows:

  • Who: You
  • What: exercise
  • Where: at home, at the gym, or at the park
  • When: every day for three months, at 6:00 a.m. and after work
  • Why: to get in shape for the summer

How: do exercise routines before and after sleep, eat a healthy, balanced diet, have a gym membership, doing cardio exercises like running and jogging at the park

Your full, specific goal should be: “I will get into shape starting three months before the summer season comes by doing push-ups and planks before and after sleep, by eating a healthy balanced diet every day for three months, by going to the gym on weekdays, and by running or jogging laps at the park on weekends.”


Make sure that your goals can be measured. For the same example stated above, you want to get in shape, but how much weight do you want to shed? By making your goals measurable enough, you will be able to determine your success. How can you say you are successful in losing weight if you did not even set your target weight? You can never feel fulfilled if you do not have a basis in which you can say that you have indeed succeeded in your goal setting.


Goals should be achievable because that is that’s what goals are for–it is to be achieved. Making unattainable goals would only make you feel discouraged and would just demotivate you from doing anything at all. Achieving your goals makes you feel good about yourself and that you would feel satisfied. However, you might think that achievable goals mean that it should be easy. Be careful about setting goals that are way too easy, making it less challenging. Not that you should and only make challenging goals but the things is, goals that are way too easy can put you at risk of feeling less fulfilled and when you would finally have a more challenging goal, chances are, you would find it difficult it to achieve, making you lose hope on yourself on your goals and end that goal eventually.


When setting achievable goals, you also have to make it realistic and that’s the point when things get challenging. Some people would think that realistic goals can hinder you to dream big since dreams people often make are impossible. Make your goals closer enough to reality so that you can envision yourself achieving that long-term goal and achieving that goal eventually. Making goals that are far from reality is a waste of time. In order to identify whether your goals are realistic and sensible enough, determine the actions you can take in order for you to reach a particular goal. An example of an unrealistic goal is to deep clean your two-story house in five hours when deep cleaning would often take at least a week especially if you are just living alone.


Always set a date when your goals should be achieved or completed. A broad goal will just state that you will achieve a particular goal “in the near future”. Now, when exactly is the “near future? The near future could be later, it could be tomorrow, it could be next week, and it could even happen in the next ten years. This is a deadline for you on hen you should be attaining your work goals. However, this does not mean that once you do not achieve your goal at your own deadline, do not be too hard on yourself because there are a lot of circumstances that could affect your goals. As long as you have a date set on when you should be achieving your goals, this will help you in following the right track as well as give you a sense of urgency especially if your own deadline is drawing close but you are just slacking off.

Simple SMART Goal Example

Here is a simple SMART goal example that will help you understand more the concept of this goal setting method:

You are a fresh graduate and all you want to do right after your graduation is to earn enough money for your future. That goal is way too broad. Let’s apply the SMART goal setting. To make your broad goal specific, you have to make your goal detailed by identifying the rest of the SMART goal setting method. Identify the measures of your investment goal by setting an exact amount of money or assets that you want to achieve at a particular age. Say, you want to earn a million dollars by that time you reach forty years old. At first, you might think that it is way too impossible but if you think you have the resources to earn such money, such as being a business graduate, business-minded, and a good manager, it is not already impossible for you to earn money and earning such amount of money is already achievable.

Having goals that are clearly defined gives your life a purpose, meaning, and it gives a reason to keep on bettering yourself so that you can finally achieve your own definition of success. Doing your own SMART goal setting does not have to complicated. You just have to be honest with yourself to admit what you really want to have and achieve in your life so that SMART goal setting will be just a piece of cake for you.

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