SMART Goals: Definition and Powerful Examples

Updated Jan 12, 2023.
SMART Goals Definition and Powerful Examples

Setting goals are important for guiding you towards attaining your target. Whether it is a financial goal for your business or an individual goal, you need to include every step necessary to achieve that goal.

Without goals, it is difficult to achieve your targets. To help you achieve your goals, you need to use a clear framework called SMART goals.

Unlike the traditional way of visualizing and setting goals, SMART goals help you quantify the specific steps you need to achieve your goals. Using SMART goal templates boost your chances of attaining success.

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about SMART goals including free SMART goal templates.

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART is the short form of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. It was first developed in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in an article called “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives.”

The concept was invented to create an easy, smarter, and more focused way to set and accomplish goals. A SMART goal includes all the factors necessary to carry out and achieve a certain aim or objective. They are important elements of goal setting.

According to the dictionary, a goal is something you like to achieve. It is an aim, a target that gives purpose and makes one feel fulfilled. Using the SMART goals concept helps to achieve both personal and professional goals. It boosts your performance, keeps you focused, motivates you, gives you proper execution of your plan, and provides a clear path to your progress.

SMART goals ask questions like: What goal do you want to achieve? How do you plan to go about it? What is your reason for setting this goal? Is it achievable? Do you have what it takes to achieve them? What do you do if you do not have the resources? When do you plan on accomplishing the goals? Answering these questions while setting your goals helps to paint a clear and direct picture.

Having SMART goals show if your goals are attainable. It helps you know what other steps to take if they are not attainable. The SMART goal framework gives you a timeframe that tracks your goals and progress.

SMART Goals - Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Relevant - Time-based
Source: Indeed

Why are SMART Goals Important?

  • Self Discipline: Setting goals gives you a sense of responsibility. You get to do things when they should be done. Disciplining yourself is easily done when you have targets to achieve.
  • Focus: To achieve your goals, you must place your focus on them. By focusing on your goals, you avoid distractions and time wastage. Setting goals keeps you on track and helps you concentrate on them.
  • Motivation: SMART goals serve as a form of motivation. It helps you to desire and yearn to achieve more. At times you feel lost and unwilling, staring at your chart where some conditions are included if certain goals are not achieved. For example, you don't get to eat dinner until you study for 2 hours a day.
  • The Setting of Priorities: Setting your priorities is necessary to achieve your goals. It helps you to place important things above trivial ones. Procrastination can be tackled this way.
  • Progress and Growth: You get to move forward and prevent stagnancy when you have goals. It helps to create the perfect version of yourself by making you a better person. Also, measuring your personal growth is important. Therefore, you can evaluate them easily while using the SMART goal concept.

How to Define Smart Goals

Step 1: S – Specific Goals

Specific goals mean being direct and straight to the point when setting your goals. Making goals comes with making specific decisions.

They should be clear and easy to understand. A specific goal breeds effectiveness.

Consider these things before setting goals:

  • What do you plan to achieve?
  • What steps do you take before achieving the goals?
  • When do I achieve them?
  • Why do I need to set these goals?
  • What do you need to achieve the goals?


You are an artist yearning to get a promotion as the head artist of your organization. Your specific goal should be “I want to learn new skills to upgrade myself. This is important to become Head Artist in my organization. I will be in a position to move my organization forward, make it more popular and successful'.

Step 2: M – Measurable Goals

After being specific, you need to measure your goals. Measurements show how much you have done, how much you need to reach a finishing point, and how much progress and relapse you are making.

Your goal must have a specific amount, number, or quantity.


To learn these skills, I will need a space of 6 months and an extra month to perfect the skills. In a year, I will become the Head Artist.

Step 3: A – Achievable Goals

While setting goals, you must be certain these goals are real and accomplishable. It helps to know your limits and not outdo yourself by setting goals beyond your reach.

You need to know the odds, the possibility, the resources, the process, and the final gain of the goals you are about to set. For example, you can not venture into teaching mathematics when you hate mathematics.

One thing to put in mind before setting goals is to make sure the goals are realistic. Your goal must be achievable and not a fantasy.


Ask yourself if you have what it takes to learn these new skills and become an expert in them. Do you have the resources, the time, and the qualifications?

Step 4: R – Relevant Goals

Relevance means being significant. Ensure your goals are necessary and matter to your progress.

Your goals corroborate with your life plans. They must add to your long-term achievements and not a temporary, no gain thing.

Goals should not be set for the fun of it. Things to consider are:

  • Does this goal matter to me?
  • Do I need to achieve this goal?
  • Is this goal needed right now?


You need to know if achieving the goal of learning new skills and training is what you really need. Also, ask yourself if becoming Head Artist is what you need presently.

Step 5: T – Timely Goals

Goals should have deadlines. Your goals must have a time frame that pushes and motivates you to work towards achieving your set goals.

Having a time target hurries up your efforts and helps you prioritize your goals. Basing your goals on a time limit gives more encouragement to continue. It is also a way to measure your progress. Having time limits helps you stay on track.

Questions to ask yourself are:

  • When am I starting?
  • When do I need to complete this?
  • How much time will it take?
  • What progress can I make in a month?


Your goal is to undergo additional training to become an expert and get promoted to the position of Head Artist.

How long will it take to learn these new skills? If further training is required, do you have enough time to continue?

What does SMART stand for
Source: Clockify

Good and Bad SMART Goal Examples

1. Professional SMART Goals

Example 1

Bad Goal: I am starting a show.

Good SMART Goal:

  • Specific: I am starting a clothing fashion show that involves models and clothing brands
  • Measurable: The show will consist of twenty models and five clothing brands
  • Achievable: I will invite these brands and organize meetings once a week
  • Relevant: I want to be a renowned fashion enthusiast
  • Timely: I am starting these meetings in the first week of February and will start the show in mid-July.


I am starting a fashion show in mid-July. I will start meeting with associated brands in the first week of February.

Professional SMART Goals Examples
Source: Career Cliff

Example 2

Bad Goal: My team will deliver a presentation.

Good SMART Goals:

  • Specific: I will be leading my team on a presentation based on discovering new sales points.
  • Measurable: Our research will be based on the causes of weak sales and how to boost the weak points.
  • Achievable: Creating two groups and giving them individual tasks. We will later meet up to discuss normal findings and solutions
  • Relevant: I am doing this to make my team the best.
  • Timely: We will have review meetings 4 hours a day. All planning should be done in four weeks.


I am improving my team's work and making our discovery ready for presentation in a month.

2. Personal SMART Goals

Example 1

Bad Goal: I want to lose weight

Good SMART Goal:

  • Specific: I want to stay fit, have a diet plan, and will be working out henceforth.
  • Measurable: I will visit the gym every day of the week except Sunday.
  • Achievable: I am going to build abs, make sure I stay healthy and maintain my diet plan.
  • Relevant: I am staying healthy, losing some pounds, and building some muscles.
  • Timely: I am achieving this in six months. I will be visiting the gym three hours a day.


I am staying healthy and fit. I am visiting the gym for my workout sessions, 7 days a week and three hours a day.

Example 2

Bad Goal: I want to write a book.

Good SMART Goal:

  • Specific: I want to write a bestsellers' book on human self-development.
  • Measurable: I want to write a 30,000 pages book
  • Achievable: I will research for two weeks and then write 1,000 words per day.
  • Relevant: I am doing this to become an outstanding and award-winning author.
  • Timely: I am completing my book in 6 months. I will write for 5 hours a day and research 2 hours a day.


I am writing a bestseller's book with 30,000 pages, 5 hours a day for the next 6 months.

3. Academic SMART Goals

Example 1

Bad Goal: I want to increase my CGPA

Good SMART Goal:

  • Specific: I want to increase my grades so I can finish with an outstanding result.
  • Measurable: I want to have a B+ in mathematics to boost my CGPA.
  • Achievable: I will attend mathematics tutorials every day for better understanding.
  • Relevant: I am doing this to stay focused, finish with better grades, and get a good job.
  • Timely: I am studying mathematics 3 hours a day aside from the 2 hours tutorials every day till after my exams in 8 weeks.


I am improving my grades for a better job opportunity. I will be studying mathematics for a total of 5 hours for the next 8 weeks.

Example 2

Bad Goal: I want to be a professor.

Good SMART Goal:

  • Specific: I want to finish my Master's degree and proceed to get a Ph.D.
  • Measurable: I am going to score high scores in all my courses.
  • Achievable: I am getting my Master's degree first.
  • Relevant: I am doing this because I would like to impart knowledge to others. I also want to be an expert in my field.
  • Timely: I must achieve this in 6 years.


I'm becoming an expert by gaining more degrees. I have 6 years to achieve this.

SMART Goals Do's and Don'ts
Source: FitSmallBusiness

Free SMART Goal Templates

SMART goal templates are easy to set and help you analyze your goals. As planners, it helps to track and monitor your progress. Goal setting templates however differ from one another.

  • SMART Goal Template for Students: This SMART goal template helps students to plan their daily activities ranging from waking up, to classes, to study, etc. This particular template shows columns to input your goals, the columns are divided into SMART.
  • SMART Goal Template for Workouts: Setting a timetable for workout sessions helps to keep track of progress made. The template allows you to write the goal you want to achieve, how long it will take to work out, the specific days to work out, etc.
  • SMART Goal Template for Kids: This template is made colorful and attractive for kids. It consists of columns to write their names, goals, how they choose to go about it, why they need such a goal, and the time required.
  • SMART Goal Template for Teachers: Educators get to plan their day, the subjects they want to teach, the time it will take, and their daily activities. It also includes columns to show their actions and results.
  • SMART Goal Template for Business or Sales: A SMART goal template can be used to track and improve sales and productivity. The template includes columns for your company's information, your SMART goals, steps for reaching your goals, and possible shortcomings.

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Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.