Setting SMART Goals for Success

SMART goals are a sure way to achieve goal setting success. In my work with elite athletes, business professionals, and students; almost all of them set goals.

I often ask them to evaluate them to see if they are 'SMART goals'......"Huh...what are S.M.A.R.T goals?" they ask with a puzzled look on their face. 

S.M.A.R.T goals is an acronym for goal setting success!

Now there are many variations of the acronym but I find that this one works:

Action based 

S.M.A.R.T goals is an acronym for how to set goals. By writing down goals and making them specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and timely goals you develop a critical skill for success.

Download this SMART goals form (PDF file) and follow the instructions below.

smart goals

Setting SMART goals

Goal setting creates a bridge between today's dream and tomorrow's reality. S.M.A.R.T goals is an acronym for goals that are:


Locke’s goal setting theory says that you maximize your chances of goal setting success if you set specific goals that focus your attention and energy on what you need to do to achieve your goals.

For example, setting goals such as:

  • "I want to lose weight” could be more specific with "I will lose 6 pounds", or
  • "I will become fitter" is too vague and could be more specific by stating “I will run 3 times a week for 20 minutes each time."

Brainstorm the different types of goals you want to set with these goal setting activities.


If you can't measure your goal how will you know that you have reached it?

A goal that you can measure establishes concrete criteria that allow you to measure your progress.

Having measurable goals is important as it gives you benchmarks which, when reached, give you the satisfaction of achievement. This is a great boost to your confidence and spurs you on to greater effort.

For example, setting goals such as:

  • "I will exercise today" is better transformed into "I will walk 5 miles today", or
  • "I will read my notes tomorrow," is better transformed into "I will read chapters 1 and 2 tomorrow."

Action based 

Having clear action steps to achieve your goals is critical to goal setting success. You must ask yourself the following questions:

  • How am I going to reach my goals?"
  • "What steps do I need to take and what resources do I need to achieve my goals?" 

For example, suppose you want to lose 5 pounds in six months. How are you going to achieve this specific and measurable goal?

  • Are you going cut out your mid-morning snack?
  • What about getting up earlier to exercise or walking 2 miles at lunch time?

Both are actions that support your goal! Goals are an active process that involve a plan!

Download this goal setting plan (PDF file).

These instructions enable you to set your goal setting plan.


Setting realistic goals does not mean the goals are easy but you do need to challenge yourself so that you focus to achieve your goals.

OK...I confess that I am a bit of a chocoholic and I know that I can't do (will not do!) without my chocolate, so setting a goal to not eat chocolate for the rest of my life is clearly unrealistic.

However, a more realistic goal is to reduce the amount of chocolate I eat to one bar a week.

When the going gets tough motivational posters and goal setting quotes sustain your motivation for the achievement of your goals.


When you set a deadline to achieve your goals you create a sense of urgency to take action today!

Whether your time frame is today, tomorrow, or in 5 years’ time, it is important to set short-term goals that work towards your long-term goal. Goal setting templates allow you to construct a detailed plan to achieve goal success.

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