How to set SMART goals (+ examples and templates)

Marija Kojic

Last updated on: December 21, 2021

Norman Vincent Peale, an advocate of the positive thinking movement, once said:

How to set SMART goals (+ examples and 10 helpful templates) - cover

So, by proxy, goals are everywhere. And, more to the point, everyone has their own.

But, are our goals always worth pursuing?

Are our goals always even possible to pursue?

Are our goals tangible enough?

Are our goals integral to our lives?

Can we easily recognize whether we’ve been successful in reaching our goals (or not)?

Can we mark goals with a time frame and a motivating deadline?

Those are all difficult questions ⁠— ones that often seem to surpass our ability to answer in a straightforward, methodical, and logical way. Luckily, there’s simple criteria you can use as a point of reference to determine the value of any goal — and that are the SMART criteria.

Now, what exactly are the SMART criteria? What are SMART goals? And how do they work?

To help shed light on these principles here’s your very own SMART Goal-Setting 101 Guide that helps explain everything you need to know about this popular and useful goal-setting strategy.

What is a SMART goal?

We all have goals — to be more successful in what we do, to enroll in a university, improve our skills, lose weight — the list goes on. But, have you ever stopped to think is it really enough to say “I want” to accomplish something. Well, most often, it’s not.

This is where the SMART goal concept comes in. The SMART goal concept helps you elaborate your aims and desires thoroughly, make an action plan, and as a result — the possibility to achieve your goal increases tremendously. SMART goals are also known as SMART criteria or SMART objectives, too.

What does SMART stand for?

The acronym SMART stands for 5 characteristics of a goal that must be included in the process in order to successfully achieve the goal:

  1. Specific — i.e. they are straightforward, precise, and can be easily defined.
  2. Measurable — i.e. they imply a clear tool or points of reference you can use in order to assess whether you are successful in progressing toward or reaching the said goal (or not).
  3. Attainable —i.e. they are realistic, in terms that you have a reasonable amount of time, money, and skills to successfully reach them.
  4. Relevant — i.e. they hold certain importance within your life, the project you’re currently working on, or your business as a whole.
  5. Time-bound — i.e. they “bind” you with a specific time frame you’ll have to work on reaching the goal, in order to call your efforts a success.

Take a look at the example with cutting time while processing data in Excel below:

What does SMART stand for

The application of SMART goals is versatile — you can use these criteria to decide whether it’s worth it to pursue specific career goals or work on specific areas of your personal development.

To help you wrap your head around the matter, here’s a few examples that illustrate what SMART goals really are (and, perhaps even more importantly, what they’re not).

1. What are Specific Goals? (Specific goal example)

Saying that you want to “be in marketing” is a nonspecific goal.

It’s what you usually say to your extended family when you want them to stop pestering you about when you’re going to get a job — it sounds nice, it may even impress your grandparents, but it’s too broad to actually motivate you to act on it. 

On the other hand, saying that you want to “land the position of a junior marketing specialist in a Boston tech company” — now, that’s a well-defined, specific goal you can strive for.

2. What are Measurable Goals? (Measurable goal example)

Saying that you’re going to study for your Math exam that’s scheduled this Monday is not a measurable goal.

Again it’s something you tell your parents to get them off your back — it suggests no actionable plan, and no distinguishable milestones to help keep you on track.

But, saying that you’re going to study for your Math exam for 5 hours each day, leading up to the next to last day before the exam when you’ll revise everything — that’s a measurable goal with clear milestones and a plan you can follow (and, more importantly, a plan you can stick to).

💡 Whatever SMART goal you set, it’s best that you measure and keep track of it with a suitable tool, to make sure you stay on track throughout it. Here’s the definitive list of the Best goal tracker apps you can use for the purpose.

3. What are Attainable Goals? (Attainable goal example)

Saying that you’ll lose 30 lbs in one month is usually not attainable.

There are two outcomes that can come from such an overachieving goal. And neither is favorable:

  1. You go on a strict diet and exercise routine. You stick to your diet with faltering and exercise hard every morning. But, ultimately, you fail because it’s simply near-impossible to lose that much in such a short time. As a result, you feel demoralized, despite the problem being striving too high, and not your own lack of skills and determination.
  2. You feel discouraged by such an unfeasible goal from the start. So much that you give up without even trying.

On the other hand, saying that you’ll lose 3 lbs every week for a month by eating healthier and exercising regularly is attainable.

With such a reasonable goal, you’ll have the best chance to maintain motivation throughout it.

4. What are Relevant Goals? (Relevant goal example)

Say you want to major in Economics. That sounds relevant and worthwhile, right?

However, you’re not the least bit interested in Economics, and you don’t plan on pursuing a career in Economics in the future. That right there makes it an irrelevant goal, as it’s not clear what you’ll gain in life by working toward it (apart from gaining a college degree, which you can also manage by studying something you like).

As concluded earlier, it’s always best to pursue a college education in a topic that interests you. A college education goal may also be relevant if you pick a potentially profitable subject you’re not 100% passionate about, but want to pursue, and know you’ll be able to land a prospective job with.

5. What are Time-bound goals? (Time-bound goal example)

Saying that you “want to participate in a poem writing contest that’s due next week” is admirable.

But, phrasing it like that means it’s not a time-bound goal.

In this case, the contest has a deadline — say it’s Sunday, February 2nd. But, you yourself don’t have a deadline for your work defined.

Will you submit your finished work on Tuesday? Or Wednesday? Or 5 hours before the contest deadline, giving you enough time to tweak to perfection?

What is your time-bound battle plan?   

Now, say that you plan to handle the contest by:

  1. writing the first draft for your poem on Monday, January 27th
  2. revising everything on Tuesday, January 28th
  3. finalizing the rhyme scheme on Wednesday, January 29th
  4. sending out the poem on Thursday, 3 days before the deadline

That’s a time-bound goal you can work with.

Why should you use SMART goals?

Even ancient Greek philosophers emphasized the importance of goal setting and proposed that “Purpose can incite action”. Setting your goals by following the SMART criteria will help you elaborate on them more thoroughly, and see if the goal you want to achieve has any potential, or if it’s just a waste of time. Here is how the SMART goal concept can benefit you:

1. Diminishes procrastination

In a study that was conducted in 2011, the authors wanted to find out whether a SMART goal worksheet can help students enhance their performance and learning outcomes. The authors gave students a team project as an assignment and introduced them to the SMART goal concept to help them finish their project. The result was more than desirable. Apart from showing effective team collaboration and creating precise work time estimates, students didn’t wait to finish their projects until the very end. Using SMART goal worksheets helped them ease procrastination and timely complete their projects.

Therefore, having a SMART goal concept in mind can help you boost your performance and stop procrastinating for good. Instead of “I’m going to finish work”, say “I’m going to work tomorrow for 3 hours, tackle the most important tasks first, and deal with the less important ones later.

2. Improves time management skills

Setting goals and efficiently managing your time are two elements that go hand in hand. If you look at the acronym SMART again, you will see that the terms measurable and time-bound refer to time management. That being said, when you have a clearly defined goal or goals, you know how and where to focus your time. What’s more, you can make work time estimates and stick to them to avoid poor utilization of resources. Finally, your improved time management skills will help you reduce distractions and increase your focus on more important tasks.

For that purpose, you can opt for a time tracking tool such as Clockify to get a silent partner in efficiently managing your time and reaching your daily targets.

With integrating SMART goals into your daily routine (whether work or personal), you will never miss a deadline or find excuses for missing your workout again.

3. Gives a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment

The correlation between goal setting and well-being is explained in the subjective well-being cycle or SWB. When you set yourself goals and accomplish them, you feel more satisfied with your life. Those accomplishments and satisfaction trigger us to pursue more goals, and this is how the cycle repeats.

You can’t seem to meet your deadlines?

Integrate the SMART goal concept into your life by following the rules we mentioned earlier and see for yourself. The sense of accomplishment and joy will push you towards setting new goals and achieving more. It’s like eating candy — you just can’t stop because the feeling is so good.

4. Beats workload overwhelm

Little planning ahead never killed nobody — but feeling overwhelmed with work can. By setting your personal or business goals you have a clear picture of what needs to be done, when, where, and how — so, the likelihood of feeling burned out reduces tremendously. What’s more, when you clearly identify your SMART goals, you will learn how to determinedly say “No” to your colleagues the next time they try to swamp you with work. Setting your SMART goals will save you from exhaustion and stress.

Now that you understand what the SMART goal concept means and why it is beneficial — let’s see when SMART goals are the most effective (and when you should avoid them).

When to use SMART goals? ✔️

Are SMART goals effective?

Yes, when used in the right context.

Here’s when SMART goals work best for:

1. Setting priorities

Use the SMART goal criteria when you want to single out your priorities and focus solely on them. Or use them when you feel like you can’t seem to identify your priority tasks and initiatives. The SMART criteria will guide you in the right direction to get a better insight into what’s important to accomplish something, and it’ll save you from wasting your time. If you don’t set your priorities right, you will lose track, and probably end up feeling exhausted.

2. Setting high-level goals

Use SMART goals when you need to focus on high-level goals that involve a number of smaller, specific tasks. High-level goals, such as advancing your career, enrolling in a university, or losing weight, demand a thorough action plan which the SMART goal concept can offer you. For a more detailed explanation, read the How to set SMART goals? section below in this blog post.

3. Tackling your work tasks

SMART goals will help you carry out your ongoing job responsibilities more efficiently and successfully. The SMART goal concept will help you split your goal into smaller, more manageable pieces, and you will have a clearer insight into the tasks needed to achieve the ultimate goal. Tackle your tasks one at a time to efficiently accomplish them and avoid being overwhelmed.

4. New assignments

Use the SMART goal criteria when you’re moving on to new assignments. Whether simple or complex, the SMART goal concept works well with all types of assignments regardless of their complexity or duration. It shifts your attention to what needs to be done and makes a thorough plan to achieve the final goal.

5. Personal development

Incorporating the SMART goal criteria into your daily routine can assist you in making an everlasting, positive change in your life. This way, you can identify areas for improvement and personal growth, and go the extra mile to advance your career.

💡 If you want to perform better at your job following a comprehensive, step-by-step guide, check this article out → How to be better at your job

When SMART goals are not so smart ❌

Now, just because it sounds like the smart thing to do (pun intended), that doesn’t mean that you should view all your tasks and initiatives through the SMART goals prism. Or, try to force them into the SMART goals mold.

Here’s when SMART goals simply don’t work:

1. When you want to use them to “count” your successes and failures

You shouldn’t use SMART goal setting just so you can race past your goals as fast as you can, without stopping to take a breather and reflect on what you’ve learned along the way.

You also shouldn’t view a SMART goal you haven’t accomplished as a failure you need to reprimand yourself for.

Just because you failed this time, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to succeed next time or use the knowledge you gained from pursuing the said goal in the future.

2. When you have the tendency to give up too soon

SMART goals take time — that’s because they’re more complex than your usual, everyday goals, such as getting to the food store before it closes.

As such, they take more effort and dedication — hence, they can be a bigger challenge for people who get nervous when they think they’re not progressing as best as they could.

If you fear that a goal, no matter how SMART it is, is too large for you to commit to it, it’s best that you reassess it, and parse it into smaller, less challenging goals you can reach easier, one by one, until you’ve accomplished everything.

3. When you’re uncertain whether a goal is attainable or not

Out of all the letters in the SMART acronym, the “A”, as “attainable”, is the least precise one.

After all, most of the time, we can only be sure a goal is attainable or not if we’ve already tried pursuing it.

So, are you really sure you have a shot at landing the position of that junior marketing specialist at that Boston tech-company?

Perhaps you don’t have the right qualifications?

Or the right experience?

Just as we’ve seen before with our example with losing 30 lbs in a month, pursuing a goal we’ve defined as attainable (despite it not being so, realistically speaking) is bound to discourage us when we fail to reach it.

Alternatively, we may miss out on some great opportunities if we mark a realistic goal as “out of reach” without properly thinking about it.

4. When managing a project

According to the Scrum methodology, even though the SMART criteria suggest that a goal should be specific and measurable (which agrees with the project management norms), other SMART goal criteria can threaten the success of a project. Since a project goes through many stages during its life cycle, some things, such as if a goal is realistic, cannot be predicted in advance without further analysis. Also, the criterion time-bound doesn’t really fit with the project management principles either. We can’t know when a goal is to be accomplished due to the constant changes during a project’s life cycle.

Therefore, the SMART goal concept doesn’t go hand in hand with project management since it “encourages a simplistic and short-sighted approach to management.”

5. When you expect a challenge

The SMART goal criteria propose that your goal needs to be attainable, meaning that you should know in advance if you have the right skills/knowledge/resources to accomplish something. When we know that a goal is achievable in advance, it gives us some kind of security, but on the other hand, it keeps us stuck in one place. We are deprived of learning new things or acquiring new skills. Sometimes, the thrill of the unknown pushes us towards and makes us realize all the things we can do. Thus, if you are a thrillseeker looking for sudden challenges along the way — maybe the SMART goal concept is not the right for you.

Now that you understand when and when not to use them, here are some examples of well-rounded SMART goals you can find inspiration in:

Inspirational SMART Goal Examples

Do you strive for a profitable business or a career? Or you just want to improve your skills and stay on top of your workload? SMART goals can pitch in and help you with that, but take a look at the 5 examples that we’ve provided first. If you don’t find something for yourself — read the section How to set SMART goals? to create a careful plan for reaching your own goals, or make use of the free SMART goal templates that we’ve carefully created for you.

Let’s go through the examples:

1. SMART goal for improved performance at work (example)

Saying “I want to improve my Excel skills” is too vague. Instead, try making your goal:

  • Specific: I want to improve my performance with Excel, in order to get a promotion at work. These performance improvements will focus on quicker data entry, more efficient calculations, and creating graphs.
  • Measurable: I’ll know I’ve succeeded, because by the 1st of next month, I’ll be able to enter my data, complete my calculations through custom and combined formulas, create graphs, and carry out my other work in Excel all on my own, and with minimum effort.
  • Attainable: I have enough time to work on improving my Excel skills. I can even enroll in an online course to help me understand some of the finer points.
  • Relevant: I like working in my company, and I want to continue working there — one of the preconditions of my staying in the company longer and getting a promotion is to streamline my work in Excel.
  • Time-bound: I want to perfect my performance with Excel by the 1st of May.

💡 Are you familiar with the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) term? It may help you boost your work performance, so check this article out → Everything about performance improvement plans

2. SMART goal for improved time management (example)

Poor goal setting → “I want to accelerate the process of calculating in Excel.

Your goal should have the following attributes?

  • Specific: It takes me 6 hours to implement all the formulas I need to process data in Excel. I want to cut that time to 3 hours per day, at least.
  • Measurable: I can track the time I spend handling Excel data every day, and then observe how that time decreases day by day, and week by week, while I work on improving my schedule.
  • Attainable: I have the resources that will help me learn how to be more efficient when using and combining Excel formulas.
  • Relevant: I currently spend 6 hours of an 8-hour workday carrying out calculations in Excel, and that’s too much of my time. Cutting that time in half would make sure I have more time for other work activities.
  • Time-bound: I want to cut the time I spend on Excel calculations in half by the 15th of next month.

💡 Does the SMART goal you want to reach involve cutting down the time you spend on an activity, task, or type of project? Use Clockify, our free goal tracker, and track your time before and after implementing the SMART criteria, to track your progress and make comparisons across days.

3. SMART goal for students (example)

Your grades won’t get better overnight, and you sure want to get into a top school or university. Well, saying “I want to improve my GPA” won’t do miracles. Instead, make sure your goal is:

  • Specific: I want to improve my GPA to 3.8 so that I can apply to a semester abroad with full-scholarship covered.
  • Measurable: I’ll need to score an A or A+ on all of my tests this semester in order to improve my total GPA to an average of 3.8 in order to qualify for a semester abroad on time.
  • Attainable: In recent months, I have fallen behind with school, but I have a history of improving my grades when I put substantial effort in it, so I can improve my grades once again. I’ll need to work hard, temporarily cut back on extracurricular activities, and focus on each test and quiz as it comes along.
  • Relevant: The school abroad I want to spend a semester at has a great Chemistry program. Passing that program will come in handy when I go to college, where I want to major in Chemistry, in order to become a Chemical Engineer.
  • Time-bound: I want to improve my GPA to 4.0 by the end of this semester, in order to qualify for a position at the college abroad in question.

4. SMART goal for leadership and team management (example)

Do you notice a stall in your team’s productivity? Being a team leader can be a double-edged sword from time to time. However, SMART goals can come to your rescue even in this situation. Make sure your goal to boost your team’s productivity is:

  • Specific: I want to motivate my team to improve their productivity by 50%.
  • Measurable: 50% of increased productivity will trigger a 50% faster project turnaround.
  • Attainable: I’ll use team management software, as well as supply my team with the right productivity tools to help them out.
  • Relevant: Higher productivity means faster project turnaround, and faster project turnaround means satisfied clients. Satisfied clients bring a good word of mouth, so we’ll likely land more clients on account of it. As a result of such great results, the team’s morale and their self-confidence will increase, so they’ll feel encouraged to continue with the said good work.
  • Time-bound: I want to see the expected improved productivity results 6 months from now.

5. SMART goal for weight loss and fitness (example)

You know that I’m-hitting-the-gym-next-Monday attitude never got you anywhere. Most people (including myself) consider going to the gym or exercising in any form as exhausting, something that requires a lot of will and determination. It is not easy, but setting a goal based on the SMART goal concept can make it much more bearable and joyful. Once you are on the right track, you will regret missing your workouts even during public holidays (again me, but post-SMART-goal attitude this time). Be all ears and ensure that your goal is:

  • Specific: I want to lose 10 pounds to improve my fitness and athletic performance.
  • Measurable: I want to lose belly fat and be able to endure physical activities without getting tired easily.
  • Attainable: There is a gym near my building which has group fitness classes with indoor cycling, weight loss program, pilates, and more. I’m going to try with the weight loss program first to lose some fat, and maybe later switch to pilates to form my body shape. Also, I’m going to avoid fast food and late-night snacking.
  • Relevant: I like to look nice in my clothes, and physical appearance really matters to me. Fast food is high in cholesterol and high cholesterol runs in my family, so I need to be extra cautious.
  • Time-bound: I need to go to the gym three times a week, go places on foot, and hopefully lose 10 pounds within the period of two to three months. This is a healthier plan since if I lose weight in a short time, I will gain it all back eventually.

How to set SMART goals?

Setting SMART goals shouldn’t be a problem — create a SMART action plan by answering a straightforward set of questions, and follow a few other accompanying steps presented below. Therefore, to make sure your goals are SMART, follow the steps:

1. Set a SMART action plan (with examples)

Let’s say that you want to lose weight. Here are the universal questions to outline a SMART action plan by answering one letter of the SMART acronym at a time:

Questions for Specific goals

If you want to make a goal-specific, consider answering the following questions (you don’t have to answer all of them, but the more questions you answer, the more specific your goal gets):

  • Q1: What is the goal?
  • Q2: What are the details of the goal?
  • Q3: What do I want to accomplish with it?
  • Q4: Who is involved?
  • Q5: Where is it going to happen?
  • Q6: What resources are available?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is specific:

  • A1: I want to lose 12 lbs.
  • A2: I want to lose 12 lbs by losing 3 lbs each week during the said month — I’ll eat healthier food and exercise to achieve this.
  • A3: I want to be healthier, boost my energy, and feel better about myself in general.
  • A4: I am the chief person responsible for losing weight, but I’ll also book time with a personal trainer and occasionally consult with my friend who’s a professional nutritionist.
  • A5: I’ll go to the gym, and I’ll make most of my healthy meals at home.
  • A6: I’ll have advice from my personal trainer and nutritionist friend.

Questions for Measurable goals

If you want to make a goal measurable, consider answering the following questions:

  • Q1: How will I measure progress?
  • Q2: Do I have the necessary tools to measure your progress?
  • Q3: How will I know the goal has been accomplished?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is measurable:

  • A1: To measure my progress (or lack thereof), I’ll weigh myself each Sunday afternoon for a month.
  • A2: I’ve recently bought a high-tech weight scale, and I’ll use it to measure my weight loss progress each Sunday.
  • A3: Simple math will tell me whether I have accomplished my goal — If by next month the weight scale shows 12 lbs less in total when compared to the weight when I started the diet and exercise routine, I’ll know I’ve succeeded.

Questions for Attainable goals

To make your goal more attainable, answering the following questions might help you:

  • Q1: Do I have the financial capacity to carry out my goal?
  • Q2: Do I have the skills and will power to carry out my goal?
  • Q3: Will I have access to help when needed?
  • Q4: Do I have all the necessary resources?
  • Q5: Do I have the time to carry out the goal?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is attainable:

  • A1: I have enough money to join a gym and consult with a professional trainer.
  • A2: I’ve previously already managed to lose 13lbs within a month on a different occasion, so I firmly believe I can do it again.
  • A3: I’ll have access to a personal trainer,  helpful advice from my nutritionist friend, as well as additional support from my family.
  • A4: I have all the necessary resources at hand, as there are several great gyms in my city, as well as an enviable selection of healthy food in the neighborhood supermarket.
  • A5: Considering that I remotely work flexible hours 5 days a week (or 9-to-5 in an office), I can spare 1 hour per weekday to go to the gym, and I have enough time to prepare healthy meals. I can easily spare even more time for the gym and food preparation on weekends.

Questions for Relevant goals

To make your goal relevant, ask yourself questions:

  • Q1: Why is this goal important to me?
  • Q2: Is this goal worth my time?
  • Q3: Is this the right time for it?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is relevant:

  • A1: Losing weight will help me be healthier and more energized. As a result, I’ll be more confident.
  • A2: Considering that I personally really feel that losing weight would benefit me (either because my weight is affecting my health, or because the doctor ordered it), it’s worth my time.
  • A3: Considering that the holiday feasts are over and that it’s time to implement the New Year’s resolutions, it’s time to lose weight.

Questions for Time-bound goals

To make a time-bound, i.e. timely goal, answer the questions:

  • Q1: When will I achieve the goal?
  • Q2: When will I carry out the activities that will bring me to my goal?
  • Q3: When can I expect the first outcomes?

Examples of answers that prove the goal is relevant:

  • A1: I’ll set February 20th for my end deadline.
  • A2: Every day after work, I’ll go to the gym for 1 hour. I’ll make a clear meal schedule that will include breakfast, lunch, dinner and healthy snacks, and I’ll stick to it. I’ll weigh myself every Sunday afternoon, leading up to the 20th of February.
  • A3: The first outcome I can expect should be 3 lbs less by the end of the first week.

2. Assign people to help you with your goals

Sometimes, you can’t achieve results or accomplish your tasks without the help of others. In the example above, it is possible to lose weight on your own, but it will be much smarter if you pay a gym membership, and let a professional fitness coach or a nutritionist help you in that process. It’s easier and safer if you listen to professionals who possess the right skills and knowledge to carry out tasks.

You’ve probably heard about the “Boomerang effect” on gaining weight back quickly after losing it. This usually happens because people starve and lose a lot of weight in a short period of time. Not only do they lose weight quickly, but muscles as well. This leads to metabolism slowing and regaining weight again.

Therefore, assigning the right people for the job can result in faster and higher-quality results.

3. List the tasks that need to be done

Now that you elaborated your goal in more detail and assigned the right people to assist you, it’s time to focus on those smaller components, i.e. tasks that need to be done to achieve the ultimate goal.

In the case of our example above, to lose 12 lbs, you’ll probably need to complete tasks like:

  • Go to the gym every day after work
  • Put aside money for the gym membership and nutrition consultations
  • Weigh yourself each Sunday afternoon
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods

When you break your goal into more manageable components, you have a holistic view of what needs to be done, and the possibility to achieve your goal increases. For that purpose, you can create a hands-on To-do list that can help you keep track of all your tasks in one place.

4. Make a workable schedule

To make sure you accomplish your SMART goals even more successfully, make work time estimates for each activity or task that needs to be completed. What’s more, make use of the time blocking technique to organize your tasks into specific blocks of time.

Let’s move back to the weight-loss example again. One of the key things that you need to strictly follow, when losing weight, is to pay attention to when you eat your meals. Even if you are being extremely careful with how many calories you consume daily, eating late at night can decrease your progress tremendously and lead to achieving partial results.

Therefore, to make sure your SMART goal plan runs smoothly, create a time-bound schedule that you are going to stick to. Precisely determine when your breakfast/snack/lunch/dinner is, and you will see the difference (again, make use of the time blocking technique for this).

There you have it. You can use these steps for any type of goal. What’s more, here are the 10 templates that’ll help speed up the process.

SMART Goal Templates

An expertly created SMART goal templates and SMART goal worksheets can serve as your quick and efficient SMART goal generator — they provide the outline for your SMART goal setting and you just need to follow the said outline and fill it out with your own data. It’s a fast and efficient alternative to creating and following your own template or making plans without one.

Basic SMART Goal Template

Basic SMART goal template

What’s it about? The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). Answer 1 or 2 questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time.

Best for what and who? This SMART Goal Template is perfect for people who want a simple approach to setting their goals.

DOWNLOAD: PDF; Google Docs; Excel; Google Sheets

Simple SMART Goal Template

Simple SMART goal template

What’s it about? The Simple SMART Goal Template lets you determine why you want to pursue your goal, as well as get started on planning your goal.

Best for what and who? This SMART Goal Template is perfect for people who want to set SMART goals but don’t necessarily want to answer to SMART criteria.

DOWNLOAD: PDFGoogle DocsExcelGoogle Sheets

Elaborate SMART Goal Template

Elaborate SMART goal template

What’s it about? The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). Answer a detailed list of questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time.

Best for what and who? This SMART Goal Template is perfect for people who need more pointers on whether the goal they want to pursue is SMART or not.

DOWNLOAD: PDFGoogle DocsExcel; Google Sheets

SMART Goal Tree Template

SMART Goal Tree Template

What’s it about? The SMART Goal Tree Template helps you select and track the main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that tell you how well you’re progressing with your goal.

Best for what and who? You can use this template to measure success in various business areas, such as customer support, company finance, internal processes, etc.

DOWNLOAD: PDFGoogle DocsExcel; Google Sheets

SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities)

SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities)

What’s it about? The SMART Action Plan Template (+ Action Steps and Responsibilities) lets you determine the value of a goal by asking you to explain how or why the said goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Then, you can add the person responsible for the said goal, and lay out the steps you need to go through in order to reach success.

Best for what and who? Great for teamwork within a project where each teammate has different goals and responsibilities that together tie into one, greater purpose. Also great for goals that imply a specific set of steps (tasks) you need to tackle to reach them.

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New Year SMART Goal Template

New Year SMART Goal Template

What’s it about? The New Year SMART Goal Template lets you define SMART goals for your Personal Growth, Health, Business life, Family and Friends, Travels, Hobbies, and New Purchases you want to consider pursuing in the new year.

Best for what and who? This template is perfect for carrying out your New Year resolutions.

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Basic SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)

Basic SMART Goals Template (+ Problems)

What’s it about? The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). Answer 1 or 2 questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. Once you’ve done that, think about the problems you may encounter while working toward the said goal and try to solve them before they happen.

Best for what and who? This SMART goal template is great for forestalling potential problems with your goal (in case you want a simple SMART breakdown of your goal).

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Elaborate SMART Goal Template (+ Problems)

Elaborate SMART Goals Template (+ Problems)

What’s it about? The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). Answer a detailed list of questions for each section to determine whether the said goal is worth your time. Once you’ve done that, think about the problems you may encounter while working toward the said goal and try to solve them before they happen.

Best for what and who? This SMART goal template is great for forestalling potential problems with your goal. (in case you want a more detailed SMART breakdown of your goal).

DOWNLOAD: PDFGoogle DocsExcelGoogle Sheets

SMART Goal Template for Project Managers

SMART goal template for project managers

What’s it about? The Basic SMART Goal Template is divided into 5 sections, each representing a letter of the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound). You’ll be able to assess each goal you want to assign to a team member, and decide whether it needs redefining, or even whether it’s worthwhile (or simply unattainable by the assigned team member) in the first place.

Best for what and who? This SMART goal template is perfect for managers who are in the process of defining the goals and objectives of a project.

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SMART Goals Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) 

SMART Goals Template (+ Rewards.Motivation)

What’s it about? The SMART Goals Template (+ Rewards/Motivations) lets you assess whether a goal is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Then, you can define the motivations and rewards that stand behind you pursuing the said goal.

Best for what and who? Rewards are important to keep you motivated to pursue a goal ⁠— pick this SMARt goal template if you want to define specific rewards that will await you when you reach a goal.

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Wrapping up…

The SMART goal criteria gives you an easy way to determine whether the goal you’re looking to pursue is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Relevant enough for you to pursue it in the first place. The SMART goal criteria also give you a time frame and deadline you can keep an eye on and use as a point of reference for your plan as you work toward the said goal.

SMART goals are suitable for both personal and business goals — for example, you can implement them with equal justification when you want to lose weight or improve your performance at work. In any case, they’re best used when you want to set and focus on a priority objective in life.

When setting and assessing your SMART goals there are sets of questions you can easily answer, and many examples you can follow and find inspiration in. Whatever SMART goal you pursue, it’s always best that you use a ready-made template to define and track it — you’ll spend less time planning the goals and more time actually working on it.

✉️ How does your goal sound like after integrating the SMART goal criteria in it? Have you found a SMART goal template that works for your needs? Write to us at for a chance to be featured in this or one of our future articles.

Author: MarijaKojic

Marija Kojic is a productivity writer who's always researching about various productivity techniques and time management tips in order to find the best ones to write about. She can often be found testing and writing about apps meant to enhance the workflow of freelancers, remote workers, and regular employees. Appeared in G2 Crowd Learning Hub, The Good Men Project, and Pick the Brain, among other places.

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