Are you setting goals effectively?

S.M.A.R.T Goals

Taylor Greenwood

     Many studies have supported the use of goal setting (Perry, 231). In fact, what most people don’t realize is that they have, more likely than not, used a form of goal setting without even realizing it. Not only can goal setting be a valuable resource in allowing people to see their goals laid out in writing, goal setting can also help make an end goal seem easier to achieve by adding layers and solutions to varying goal factors.

     When setting a goal, the acronym of a S.M.A.R.T goal should play a big role. A S.M.A.R.T goal is a goal that is specific, measurable, action based, realistic, and time based. As mentioned above, by using this acronym, you give your goal layers which help in reaching the end goal.


     Now that you know what the S.M.A.R.T goal acronym is letter by letter, let’s get into what each letter means. Specific (S) means that the goal should be clearly defined with clear specifications. For example, a goal of increasing the weight of a squat is not considered a specific goal because the weight in which you wish to increase the squat is not specified. Instead, a goal of increasing the weight of a squat by 10kg would be considered a specific goal because the goal is clearly defined and has a specified outcome.

     Measurable (M) describes how you will assure that you are on track to achieving your goal as well as indicate when your goal has been achieved. Theoretically, you will identify ways to measure your goal progress. Using the example above, measurable strategies to track the progress for a goal of increasing a squat weight by 10kg may include calculating your squat weight for each set and rep, keeping a log of your progress, and/or following a workout plan.

     Action based (A) indicated the actions you will take to assist yourself in achieving your goal. For example, packing a gym bag with all the necessary supplies, eating sufficient foods, and getting the proper amount of sleep would all be considered actions that would help you reach your goal.

     Realistic (R) is perhaps the simplest step in setting your goal. Theoretically, you will want to indicate if your goal is realistic or not. Ask yourself, is increasing my squat 10kg realistic for me? Can I achieve this? If your answer is yes, you can continue onto the final goal setting step. If your answer is no, you will want to restructure the specifics of your goal so that they become realistic.


     Finally, time based (T) puts a time frame on achieving your goal. By indicating a finishing time, i.e. by what date do you wish to achieve your goal, you put a completion date on your outcome which could help to increase your motivation to work towards the goal as well as keep you on track to achieving this goal. For example, increasing the weight of your squat by 10kg by the end of 8 weeks would be considered a time based goal.

     By giving layers to your goal, you clearly outline how you will measure your progress, how you will reach your goal, and when your goal will be reached. In doing so, you give yourself a higher chance of achieving your goal. Try this acronym out the next time you want to set a goal and let me know your thoughts!

*While I prefer to use this acronym set up, it’s important to note that the meaning of each letter of the S.M.A.R.T goal acronym can vary slightly depending on who you talk to.

Perry, John. “Psychological Skills Training.” Sports Psychology: A Complete Introduction. 22 March 2016. 231. Hodder & Stoughton