What Are SMART Goals and How to Write Them (With Examples!)

“Maybe I’ll just watch one more episode.”
“I’ll start working on it tomorrow.”
“Might as well give up. I’m never going to improve.” 

If you’ve ever told yourself any of these, you know how difficult it can be to achieve goals.

You might get distracted by Netflix or demotivated because your goal to get abs by laughing for hours turned out to be unrealistic. 😢

Fortunately, you can use a goal setting framework like SMART goals to set effective goals and stay motivated. 

But what does SMART goal stand for, and how can you use it to achieve success?

Don’t worry!

In this article, we’ll explore what SMART goals are, how to write them, some examples, and the best goal setting tool to help you achieve your goals. We’ll also cover the key benefits of SMART goals.

Ready, set, goals!

What Is a SMART Goal?

If you think that a SMART goal is just a super clever goal that someone came up with, you’re not entirely wrong.

SMART goals help you set achievable, well-thought-out goals. The SMART goal acronym defines a set of criteria that allows teams and individuals to keep it real, literally.

SMART stands for goals that are:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Time-bound

If you have ever worked towards a vague goal without any way to track progress, you need to set SMART goals. Whether it’s personal or professional goals, the SMART criteria can help you create a realistic goal, establish a clear timeline, and identify any missed targets. 

Bonus: Goal-Setting Templates

How to Write a SMART Goal

Remember, a SMART goal stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals. To write SMART goals, you’ll need to work through all five elements to build trackable, clear goals.

Let’s now go through each step in the SMART goal framework:

1. Specific

To avoid setting a general goal, you need to create a specific action plan. 

All you need to do is answer the common ‘w’ questions:

  • What: give a detailed description of what exactly you want to achieve
  • Who: list down the people who need to be part of your goal. This is crucial if you’re working towards a team performance goal
  • When: choose the start date and end date for your set goal
  • Where: if applicable, you’ll need to select a location for your goal
  • Why: define your reason for wanting to achieve this specific goal. You should get insights into how your objective aligns with where you want to be in the future
  • Which: determine any challenges or requirements which will affect goal progress to know if you’ve set an achievable goal. For example, if your goal is to launch a new website, but you have no experience in web development, you’re probably going to run into some obstacles 

Specific Goal Example: Increase organic traffic to your website by 10%.

2. Measurable

The next step is to decide how you’ll measure progress towards your goal.

When you define these metrics, your goal becomes more tangible since you can clearly see how close you are to reaching them.

Additionally, if you’ve set a long term goal, you can motivate yourself by setting milestones.

What are milestones?

Milestones are the key achievements along your goal’s timeline. For example, if your goal is to launch a shopping website, creating the UI can be a milestone.

Celebrating your milestones can help you stay motivated to achieve even more goals! 🥳

Measurable Goal Example: Check analytics monthly in order to increase organic traffic to your website by 10% by the end of Q1.

3. Attainable

Now, you’ll need to determine how achievable your objective is. 

While setting a super challenging goal (like a stretch goal) could help you perform even better, it could demotivate you if you couldn’t achieve it. 

Instead, you should think about any new skills, change in attitude, goal-setting software, equipment, courses, etc., you’ll need to nail your goal.

If you find that you’re missing a skill or certification, you’ll need to determine how to attain them. 

But remember to think about your financial and time constraints!

Attainable Goal Example: To grow your online business, you’ll probably need to hire web developers. But you’ll also need to decide if you can afford to pay those developers. 💰

4. Relevant

Setting relevant goals helps ensure that you set a good goal that actually makes sense for your future.

If you set SMART goals that don’t align with your career development or long-term personal goal, you’re probably going to feel pretty ‘meh’ when you reach them.

For example, if you see yourself running your own online retail business in the next few months, you should be setting goals to take courses in sales and marketing. 

But instead, if you make it a goal to take stand-up comedy courses for the next three months…

Once you’ve completed all those courses, you won’t feel any closer to your ultimate goal.

Relevant Goal Example: Based on the data that your site’s organic traffic grew by 8% last quarter, it makes sense to set a goal to increase organic traffic by 10% this quarter.

5. Time-bound

Goals should have a deadline.

Without one, your goals will stretch into infinity and beyond, along with your procrastination!

For example, to create a realistic timeline for an online business, you need to consider things like:

  • Do I need to recruit team members?
  • Do I need to rent a space?
  • What kind of administrative documents do I need to submit?
  • How long will it take to secure suppliers?

Time-Bound Goal Example: Increase organic traffic to your website by 10% by the end of Q1.

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll know how much time you need to achieve your goal.

Bonus: SMART HR Goals

Benefits of Writing SMART Goals

Here are two fantastic benefits of using SMART goals:

1. SMART goals can improve self-development

A goal setting framework like SMART goals helps us psychologically. 

Before we set a SMART goal, we need to understand our core values and ensure that the objective we set aligns with those values. This way, we are more likely to benefit from our goals in the long run.

Additionally, when we set a SMART goal action plan, we need to accept our abilities and set realistic expectations for ourselves.

For example, if you want to become a senior marketing manager, you need to make sure you’ve got the required certifications, so you don’t end up in a situation like this:

not qualified

But once we do achieve success, we feel more confident and motivated to set and achieve more goals!

2. SMART goals are easy to work with

The SMART goal criteria are super easy to understand, and you don’t need tons of training or expensive goal setter tools to put them into action.

This is why it’s an excellent goal setting process for individuals and teams of all sizes. 

For example, you can align your personal goals with your project management’s goals & KPIs to keep track of progress without spending a fortune.

Let’s Get Smart About It! 

The SMART framework is about creating a strategic plan that’ll help you focus on achievable objectives.

Although the SMART goal system can help you set practical  personal and career goals, having a goal setting tool like ClickUp can make the process a lot easier.

With features like Priorities, Goal Folders, and tons of Integrations, you won’t have to waste time manually documenting and tracking goals.

Get smart and hop on ClickUp for free today to knock out SMART goals that are as well as you train your body! 🥊

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