How to Write SMART Personal Goals

How to Write SMART Personal GoalsIs it possible to pursue a dream while attending school, employed at a full-time job, taxiing children to activities and athletic events, and juggling multiple responsibilities? Absolutely!

By knowing what you want to achieve, you can plan when, where, and how you must concentrate your efforts to successfully reach your goals. If you feel frustrated or anxious as you think about defining goals, you may, as Amy Lynn Andrews, author of Tell Your Time, observed, feel “stuck” in one of the following areas:

  • You don’t know how to define your goals.
  • You don’t have a plan to pursue your goals.
  • You have goals, but don’t believe you have the resources to reach your goals.
  • You have goals, but don’t believe you have time to reach your goals.
  • You have goals, but don’t believe you have support from families and friends.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, believed the act of writing goals sets things into motion. He explained, “Your mind accepts the challenge and will consciously and unconsciously work to achieve the goal.”

How to Write SMART Personal GoalsSMART Goals

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.  The act of writing your goals packs your dream with power and sets the dream-to-action process onto a course headed towards success.

Several years ago, I wanted to launch a strong presence on the Internet. As a speaker and author, I needed an online home office.

My SMART goal was “I successfully design a vibrant website that includes a blog by January 1st.” I scoured the Internet to find quality websites and blogs. I checked out library books about websites. I joined networking groups and watched countless do-it-yourself website design videos.

I found outstanding website hosting support at Bluehost. I discovered I could call and actually talk to someone at Bluehost for technical assistance, ask questions via live chat, obtain valuable information in user forums, and receive website guidance from easy-to-understand video tutorials at the Bluehost Web Hosting Help Center. Within one month, I designed my own WordPress website, My website SMART goal looked like this:

SPECIFIC: I successfully design a vibrant website that includes a blog by January 1st.
MEASURABLE: I develop a timeline with deadlines for each section of my website. I will write and post a blog on my website every Monday.
ACHIEVABLE: There are many resources available at the library as well as on-line videos and instructions that guide me through the website design process. There are website designers who offer expert advice.
REALISTIC: I possess the creative and innovative knowledge and skills to design my own website.
TIME-BOUND: I design a website by January 1st.

Defining a SMART goal does not guarantee achieving it will be easy. I did not know the vocabulary of website design; I had no words to describe my questions. I had no idea where to find the information once I defined my goal. However, a clear and concise SMART goal provided me with a destination that pointed me in the right direction.

Consider the following questions as you construct a SMART goal:

A SMART goal is SPECIFIC. What do I want to accomplish? Why do I want to accomplish it? What are the benefits? Who will be involved to help or support me?
A SMART goal is MEASURABLE. How much will it cost to accomplish my goal? What tools do I need to measure progress? What targets will I establish as I work towards my goal? How will I know when I’ve accomplished my goal?
A SMART goal is ATTAINABLE. How can my goal be accomplished? What knowledge and skills do I have to reach this goal? What knowledge and skills are needed to reach this goal? What is my plan?
A SMART goal is REALISTIC. Why is my goal meaningful? Is there a need for someone like me to pursue? Is this the right time to pursue this goal? Is this goal aligned with my core values? Does this goal compete with other priorities in my life?
A SMART goal is TIME-BOUND. When will I start working toward this goal? When will my plan be implemented? What will I do within the next six months to reach my goal? What will I do within the next six weeks to reach my goal? What will I do this week to reach my goal?

Additional Tips for Writing Goals

Here are additional tips to consider as you write your goals:

  • State each goal as a positive statement. Express your goals with positive words. Rather than stating “Don’t be afraid to contact clients,” say “I confidently contact ten clients this week.”
  • Be precise. Set specific goals; include dates, times, and measurable amounts so you can track your progress. Rather than stating “I want to exercise,” say “I walk my dogs on the two-mile course at the park every day at 8:30 a.m.”
  • Set objective performance goals. As you write goals, use action verbs that can be observed and measured as opposed to abstract and subjective goals. Rather than stating “I want to publish a book,” say “I dedicate 20 minutes every day to writing so I can publish my ebook in six months.”
  • Set priorities. Prioritizing tasks helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed by focusing your attention on important choices and activities that are directly connected to your goal. If accomplishing your goal is extremely important to you, you may have to ask others for help to complete less important tasks. Or you may need to eliminate certain tasks from your schedule as you pursue your goal.
  • How to Write SMART Personal GoalsArrange time in your schedule to pursue your passions. Breaking down your dream into specific goals that fit into your schedule takes work and effort. You must consider how much time you have within a twenty-four hour period that can be devoted to tasks that will help you meet your goals.

Richard G. Scott said, “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day.” Commitment to a process is crucial to the development of a successful action plan.

As you write your SMART goals and, more importantly, review and revise them, you will make conscious choices that will lead you to success. You will experience greater confidence as you watch your desired goals unfold in your life.

How can you transform your dream into a SMART goal?


Do you want to get clear about your direction? Find helpful tips and learn how to Write a Personal Purpose Statement.

Discover Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and create a statement that will steer your efforts in the direction you want to go.

Save this How to Write SMART Personal Goals SlideShare presentation to keep your focus on course.


2 Responses to How to Write SMART Personal Goals
  1. Great description and explanation of what S.M.A.R.T. goals are. I love how you used your own goal as an example and showed us step by step what your process was. Great article!

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