How to Write SMART Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

We all know that setting goals is important to both our personal and work lives. However, it can be tough to set the right goals for the best outcome. Your goals should inspire you as well as provide a layer of accountability. This step-by-step guide will show you how to set SMART goals and plan for your success.

What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym for the five elements of the goal. The elements are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. All of these elements are important to creating goals that will actually move you forward toward what you want to achieve. Each aspect of SMART goals is important for reaching success. Whether you have personal goals or business goals, this method is a smart way to move yourself to where you want to be.

How to Write SMART Goals

When you’re planning for success, you have to have goals that are broken down into their basic elements. This is taking a broader goal and studying it so that the goal is full of actionable steps. A broad goal with no specifics and no context is one that’s easy to ignore. When you write your goals, break it down into its five elements. This can help any project move ahead so that you have a straight path toward reaching your specific goal.

S: Specific

Your SMART goals should have a specific outcome that is clearly spelled out. Instead of just hoping for success, you can break it down into specific numbers that can signify moving toward success. For instance, instead of having a goal of being successful, set the specific goal of selling a certain number of units. When you define your goal in this way, it’s easier to picture yourself reaching this goal. Give your goal a definition and spell out the actions that need to be taken to reach it.

M: Measurable

In this aspect of your goal, you’ll set up the numbers that will give you a quantifiable way to know when you’re moving forward. Figure out which data you’re going to use to measure what your goal would look like and how you’ll get that data. Once you know this, you can set benchmarks and milestones for your actions and the results you get. You may want to have a target date for the goals or quantity success in some other way. Measurable goals are more likely to be reached than vague goals.

A: Achievable

It’s easy to set a goal that isn’t really workable. If you set a goal that you don’t have any hope to achieve, there’s no point to setting a goal at all. You can set your goalposts high, but that doesn’t mean they should be unrealistic. You can break the goal down into smaller parts that are easier to achieve. These realistic markers of success will let you know that you’re on the right track. As you reach each one, you’re moving closer to your SMART goal.

R: Relevant

Your goal-setting efforts should be relevant to the company you’re working for or the life that you lead. Setting goals that aren’t relevant to anything can be a waste of time, resources, and energy. To figure out whether you have relevant goals, think about the benefits that you or the company would get out of it. Is it actually important to either yourself or your company? If it would make no difference, the goal may not have relevance after all.

T: Time-Bound

If your action plan doesn’t have a deadline, how realistic is it? Everyone works better when they have a deadline and know they have to achieve something relatively soon. This can serve as your inspiration to get moving in the right direction. When you make SMART goals, you can set one deadline or several of them that lead to the ultimate goal to be realized. An open-ended goal won’t give you much motivation to reach it. After all, it can be put off, right? When you set a specific deadline, the schedule of your action plan will fall into place more easily.


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Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.