SMART Goal Setting


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Student Editor: Shane D.

Many of us have goals that we set for ourselves in all aspects of our lives. We set goals because it gives us something to aim for. Sometimes our goals are big, like for what we want to be when we grow up. Other times, however, our goals may be much smaller, like to get an A on an upcoming test. No matter the goal, it is important to plan it out in a way that makes it more likely that you will be able to follow through with it. What is the best way to come up with our goals? We like to teach individuals to use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting acronym to help define their goals in a way that may make them easier to attain. 

The first letter in S.M.A.R.T. goal setting stands for specific. It is important for a goal to be specific. Without a specific plan in place, it is far less likely that you will be able to stick to your goal and follow through with it. Instead of simply stating that you want to earn good grades, you might include which courses or how you plan on doing so. State that you want to dedicate more time to studying or even that you plan on avoiding procrastination to help reach your goal!

The second letter, “M”, in a S.M.A.R.T. goal is for measurable. In order to tell if you are successfully following your goal, you should structure your goal in a way to be able to measure progress. For example, if your goal is broad, such as to be an astronaut someday, it is difficult to tell if you will be successful in your path to becoming an astronaut.

The “A” stands for attainable. While we may all hope to be astronauts, presidents, and rock stars, it is unlikely that this may always be the case for every one of us. To set an attainable goal is to set a goal that you believe is possible to obtain.

The “R” in S.M.A.R.T. is that the goal is realistic. Much like attainable, we must be realistic and shoot for attainable goals!

Finally, “T” is for time bound. Set a time for when you hope for your goal to be achieved. With a time set in place, we are much more likely to follow through and reach our goals!

S.M.A.R.T. goals can be applied to everything from finance to athletics. We can develop goals for where we hope to be financially in the future. They help us stay on track and achieve what is important to us. With S.M.A.R.T. goals, we can look to the future and craft a way to achieve financial success, or even just to be able to afford those new pair of shoes that we want. 

Goals notebook

If you would like to learn more about S.M.A.R.T. goals and how you can implement them in your life, please visit If you would like to see an example of how someone like you set their own goal, please visit this link on our website: /jungle-talk/from-smart-goals-to-south-africa.