How to Set SMART Goals (With 5 Examples) When setting personal goals, specificity is king. For example, just challenging yourself to “do more work” is way too vague, as you’ve got no way of tracking your progress, and no endpoint. Simply put, if your goals aren’t quantifiable, achieving success can be challenging. SMART goals are the answer, as you can break them down into five quantifiable factors. We’ll explore this in more detail shortly, but before that, we’ll talk a bit more about the importance of setting goals. Then we’ll discuss how the structure itself works and go over some examples of SMART goals. The Importance of Setting Goals Setting goals for yourself is important, no matter where you are in life. Without clear goals to drive you forward, you won’t know if you’re making progress in the activities you consider most important. The goals you set for yourself don’t have to be overly complicated either. After all, there’s a lot of middle ground between ‘taking over the world’ and ‘losing five pounds’. However, in our experience, those who set clear goals for themselves tend to enjoy greater success more consistently. By “clear goals”, we mean examples such as “losing five pounds”. This kind of goal is achievable and quantifiable. In other words, you can track your success and make changes to your approach if your progress stalls. While progress in your personal or work life is possible without setting goals, we’d wager there’s a better chance of success in making the effort. Given this, let’s introduce a goal-setting system we’re big fans of, and explain why it works. Introducing SMART Goals and the Structure You’ll Need If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “SMART” used in this context is an acronym, with a focus on creating specific (and realistic) targets to hit. To that end, every SMART goal consists of five elements: 1. Specific. The goal should have a clear, highly-specific endpoint. If your goal is too vague, it won’t be SMART. 2. Measurable. You need to be able to accurately track your progress, so you can judge when a goal will be met. 3. Attainable. Of course, setting a goal that’s too ambitious will see you struggle to achieve it. This will sap at your motivation, both now and in the future. 4. Relevant. The goal you pick should be pertinent to your chosen field, or should benefit you directly. 5. Time-Bound. Finally, setting a timeframe for your goal helps quantify it further, and helps keep your focus on track. For example, imagine you want to start running as a hobby. You could just run ‘free-form’ (i.e. wherever you please, for however long you want). However, this may not be conducive to progress. To make this ‘SMARTer’, you could set a goal of running five miles in less than 45 minutes. This covers the “S” and “M” criteria. It’s also attainable, although it would require some effort depending on how out of shape you are. Moving on, the goal is also relevant because you’re actively trying to get into shape. To make this totally SMART, you’d finally need to give yourself a timeframe to achieve your target. In this case, a month or two should be sufficient, as long as you plan your schedule correctly. This approach to goal setting might sound overly complex. However, being able to track your progress in relation to each goal accurately is a great way to remain motivated. As long as you can see yourself inching forward towards the finish line, keeping the momentum going becomes easier. 5 Example SMART Goals You Can Put Into Action Let’s take a look at some specific examples of SMART goals, with a focus on those you may set at work, or for clients. The first may not be one that crops up every day, but it’s definitely a good example of how the SMART formula works with bigger projects. 1. Writing an E-Book Writing a book is a pretty tall task. However, we’ve talked about the benefits of creating an e-book previously, so it’s a goal worth pursuing. To give you an idea of how popular this goal is, each year, thousands of people attempt to write a 50,000-word tome every November, in an event called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is a great opportunity to showcase how a SMART goals example can work. Let’s break down how: Specific: You’re aiming to complete a book with a minimum word count, in any genre you want. Measurable: The baseline to cross the finish line at NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words, which gives you a target to meet. Attainable: If you can write 2,000 words a day, 50,000 words will be yours well before day 30. Relevant: Since NaNoWriMo isn’t limited to a particular genre, you can write an e-book based on your chosen field and monetize it later on. Time-Bound: In this case, the time constraint is built into the event. You have one month to write 50,000 words, and not a day more. One of the most fun things about NaNoWriMo is it’s not only a competition with yourself, but you have a massive built-in support network (which is also essential for success). In this case, they’re also writers, all encouraging each other to succeed. Naturally, you don’t need to participate in an event like this if you want to write an e-book. However, it does make for a tremendous SMART example, and you can apply the same principles if you’re going to write a book on your own schedule. One of the most fun things about NaNoWriMo is it’s not only a competition with yourself, but you have a massive built-in support network (which is also essential for success). In this case, they’re also writers, all encouraging each other to succeed. Naturally, you don’t need to participate in an event like this if you want to write an e-book. However, it does make for a tremendous SMART example, and you can apply the same principles if you’re going to write a book on your own schedule.