The Magic of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

In order for goals to be powerful, they should be designed to be SMART. Here's how to write yours.

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SMART is an acronym that gives you a roadmap for meeting your goals, making them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Let’s break them down:

  1. Specific “Get healthier” can mean all kinds of things — lose weight, eat more vegetables or lower blood pressure, just to name a few. But even those are too broad. Your goal needs to be specific so you know what you’re aiming for

  2. Measurable When you can measure your efforts, you can stay on top of your progress. “Eating more vegetables” becomes measurable by specifying that you’ll eat four servings a day

  3. Attainable Be realistic when you’re setting your goals. You want to find the sweet spot between setting yourself up for success and pushing yourself to improve. If vegetables haven’t crossed your lips since your mother fed you carrots from a jar, vowing to move to a plant-only diet right out of the gate is a pretty significant jump in vegetable consumption. Hit one milestone then reach for another

  4. Realistic Make sure your goal is practical for you and your circumstances. Vowing to exercise every morning before work may set you up to fail if that means you’ll have to get up at 4 a.m. to get your workout in before getting you and kids out the door. Knowing you could walk during your kids’ soccer practice three days a week is a more realistic way to hit your exercise goal

  5. Timely Give yourself a timeframe. With no end in sight, there’s always tomorrow to start and get serious about hitting your goal. A timeframe — by the wedding, by July 1 — gives your goal a sense of urgency and helps keep you accountable

Here are some examples of SMART Goals:

  • Nutritional SMART goal: "I will eat four servings of vegetables every day for the next three weeks."

  • Exercise SMART goal: "I will walk or run 10,000 steps six days a week until May 1."

  • Life balance SMART goal: "I will turn off my phone when I get home from work until the kids go to bed during the school year."

And there’s one more step: reward yourself when you reach your goal! Treat yourself to something in line with what you’ve been working toward — new workout gear, or going to a movie, for example.