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1.3: SMART Goal Setting

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    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\) SMART Acronym

    Have you ever said to yourself that you need to “eat healthier” or “exercise more” to improve your overall health? How well did that work for you? In most cases, probably not very well. That’s because these statements are too vague and do not give us any direction for what truly needs to be done to achieve such goals. To have a better chance at being successful, try using the SMART acronym for setting your goals (S= Specific, M= Measurable, A=Attainable, R= Realistic, T= Time-oriented):

    Specific – Create a goal that has a focused and clear path for what you actually need to do.


    • I will drink 8 ounces of water 3 times per day
    • I will walk briskly for 30 minutes, 5 times per week
    • I will reduce my soda intake to no more than 2 cans of soda per week

    Do you see how that is more helpful than just saying you will eat healthier or exercise more? It gives you direction.

    Measurable – This enables you to track your progress, and ties in with the “specific” component. The above examples all have actual numbers associated with the behavior change that let you know whether or not it has been met.

    Attainable – Make sure that your goal is within your capabilities and not too far out of reach. For example, if you have not been physically active for a number of years, it would be highly unlikely that you would be able to achieve a goal of running a marathon within the next month.

    Realistic – Try to ensure that your goal is something you will be able to continue doing and incorporate as part of your regular routine/lifestyle. For example, if you made a goal to kayak 2 times each week, but don’t have the financial resources to purchase or rent the equipment, no way to transport it, or are not close enough to a body of water in which to partake in kayaking, then this is not going to be feasible.

    Time-oriented – Give yourself a target date or deadline in which the goal needs to be met. This will keep you on track and motivated to reach the goal, while also evaluating your progress.

    This page titled 1.3: SMART Goal Setting is shared under a CC BY license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Garrett Rieck & Justin Lundin.