10 Smart Goal Examples (and How to Use Them)

You can’t beat the feeling of achieving a hard-earned goal. But no matter how fulfilling the payoff is, it’s often not enough to push us past our comfort zone to cross the finish line. Often, we need some help keeping ourselves and our teams focused, efficient, and motivated.

This is where SMART goals come in. With the SMART goal framework, you can set meaningful goals and track your progress toward completing them. Let’s take a look at the framework, how to use it, and some examples and tips to help you make and nail your own SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?


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SMART goals are a methodology for setting goals in a structured, well-defined, and actionable way. SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific. What is it exactly that you’re trying to achieve?
  • Measurable. What things will change to tell you that you’ve achieved the goal?
  • Attainable. Is it a reasonable, achievable goal, or is it too much to pull off?
  • Relevant. How does it tie into the “bigger picture” of what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s business or life goals?
  • Time-bound. What day and/or time will you achieve the goal by?

The origin of the SMART framework

The SMART framework was created by consultant and corporate planning director George T. Doran. It was first published in a 1981 issue of the journal Management Review to help write management goals and objectives in a better way.

It’s been adapted over time—you can see this by the fact that his original SMART acronym was slightly different from the one we’re using. (Doran’s was Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-bound.)

How to write SMART goals

Let’s look at some fundamentals as you set your SMART objectives. We’ll break them down based on each of the five elements.

Specific. Be as granular as possible in describing exactly what it is you want to do, instead of vague language that’s hard to track and measure. For example, instead of saying “Get more sales,” try something more specific, like “Increase revenue by 50% by the end of the year.”

Measurable. Outline how you’ll be sure you’ve achieved the goal, using numbers or milestones if possible. In the example above, you could keep the milestone at a 50% increase, or you can use the specific dollar amount that the extra 50% would bring you to, like $100,000. Some milestone examples that meet the smart criteria include getting a certification, submitting a competition entry, or building a functional prototype.

Attainable. Make sure it’s a reasonable, achievable goal within the timeline you set. For example, if there are only 2 months left in the year, it’s probably going to be unrealistic to increase your revenue by that much. You should always dream big, but keep those big dreams in a place where you can reach them.

Relevant. Think about how this smaller goal ties into the “bigger picture,” whether you’re working toward business or life goals. In this example, an increase in revenue is almost always aligned with a long-term goal of many businesses, which is to keep growing and becoming more profitable.

Time-bound. Choose a target date or deadline to keep you motivated and able to track progress. In our example, the deadline is the end of the year. We know what needs to be done in the interim, which helps us to further break the task down into smaller actionable steps.

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10 examples of SMART goals

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Now that you understand what they are and how to write them, let’s look at some SMART goal examples to inspire you.

These 10 SMART goal-setting examples showcase how you can create powerful personal, business, work, and leadership goals.

1. SMART goal for getting fit

I’m going to follow the Nike app training program to run a marathon without stopping, six months from now.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to start running daily and train for a marathon.
  • Measurable: I will follow the Nike app training program to run a full marathon without stopping.
  • Achievable: I have done some running before, my body is reasonably healthy, and the marathon is six months from now.
  • Relevant: I want to become a fit, healthy, and strong person—I want to be full of vitality, energy, and zest for life.
  • Time-bound: I have signed up for a marathon six months from now.

2. SMART goal for completing a personal project

I’m going to write a 60,000-word novel in six months, finishing on June 30. I will do this by writing 2,500 words per week.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to write a 60,000-word sci-fi novel.
  • Measurable: I will finish writing 60,000 words in six months.
  • Achievable: I will write 2,500 words per week.
  • Relevant: I’ve always dreamed of becoming a professional writer.
  • Time-bound: I will start writing tomorrow, January 1, and finish June 30.

3. SMART goal for improving relationships

I will call David, Sarah, and Mom twice per week for three months to develop my relationships with them.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I will develop my relationships with David, Sarah, and Mom.
  • Measurable: I will call each of these people twice per week.
  • Achievable: I talk to these people regularly, and we always say how it would be nice to talk more.
  • Relevant: I want to deepen my social ties, feel more loved and supported in my life, and support those I love.
  • Time-bound: I will stick to this plan for three months, then re-evaluate and plan my next steps.

4. SMART goal example for starting a business

I will start a dropshipping business with Shopify on Saturday. I will spend one hour on this business each day and work to land my first sale within two weeks.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I will start a dropshipping business.
  • Measurable: I will work on my business for one hour each day, and the goal is to land my first sale within two weeks.
  • Achievable: I have watched some videos on dropshipping and know that I can use Shopify to start a business quickly.
  • Relevant: I want to quit my job, work from home, and be my own boss.
  • Time-bound: I will begin on Saturday and land my first sale within two weeks.

5. SMART goal example for marketing a business

I will begin a Facebook Ads course tomorrow and start investing 30% of my business profits into paid campaigns within one week. I will continue to learn and invest in Facebook Ads to double my sales within three months.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to learn how to use Facebook Ads and invest 30% of my profits into this marketing channel.
  • Measurable: The goal is to double my sales within three months.
  • Achievable: I have a reasonably successful small business that is ready to handle a growth in sales.
  • Relevant: I want to make six-figures per year working from home.
  • Time-bound: I will start a Facebook Ads course tomorrow and start running paid campaigns within one week. Then, I’ll continue to learn and scale-up, and evaluate my results in three months.

6. SMART goal example for growing a business

I will hire a VA to manage customer service inquiries within two weeks to free up time. I’ll use this time to research and add five new products to my store before the end of the month.

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Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to manage customer service inquiries for me. That way, I can free up time to conduct product research and add new products to my store.
  • Measurable: The goal is to hire a VA and add five new products to my store.
  • Achievable: I have some experience hiring freelancers on Upwork, and I understand how to find winning products.
  • Relevant: I aim to work on my business, not in my business so that I can grow my income and work less hours.
  • Time-bound: I will hire a VA within two weeks and then add five new products to my store within one month.

7. SMART goal example for landing a dream job

I will land my dream job working for a SaaS company like Shopify and travel long-term as a digital nomad. To achieve this, I will apply to one job per week for two months—submitting a total of eight job applications.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to become a search engine optimization (SEO) specialist for a leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) company like Shopify and work remotely.
  • Measurable: I will apply to a minimum of eight job applications within two months.
  • Achievable: I’ve worked as an SEO specialist for two years in an office for an accounting firm, and I’m good at my job.
  • Relevant: I want to collaborate with interesting people, contribute to something innovative, and join a company with room for me to grow. Also, I want to travel long term as a digital nomad.
  • Time-bound: I will apply to eight suitable job applications within two months by submitting one application per week.

8. SMART goal example for earning a promotion

I’m going to land a promotion to become a senior SEO specialist at my company. I will do this by taking on an additional work project within two weeks, completing the required training within six weeks, and submitting my application within eight weeks.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to earn a promotion and become a senior SEO specialist.
  • Measurable: I will complete the required training and submit my application. I will also take on an additional work project to demonstrate my readiness to shoulder more responsibility.
  • Achievable: I’ve worked as an SEO specialist for three years, and my work has produced significant results. Also, my company is looking to take on another senior SEO specialist at the end of this quarter.
  • Relevant: I want to keep learning and challenging myself as I progress in my career.
  • Time-bound: I will take on one additional work project within the next two weeks, complete the required training within six weeks, and submit my application within eight weeks.

9. SMART goal example for improving team results

I will lead my team to improve our qualification process so that the team only calls high qualified leads that are likely to purchase. We aim to increase sales by 5% within three months.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to help my team qualify sales leads better, so they only spend their time selling to people who are likely to purchase.
  • Measurable: The goal is to increase the team’s sales by 5%.
  • Achievable: We’ve identified the top reason our leads don’t purchase: they don’t fully match our target market. If we can ensure everyone we call matches our target market, our sales will likely increase.
  • Relevant: Our core aim is to grow company sales by more than 20% this year.
  • Time-bound: We aim to increase sales by 5% within three months before re-evaluating our strategy.
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10. SMART goal example for managing a team

I will improve team communication and free up wasted time by implementing a team messaging solution within two weeks. The aim is to cut the time spent on messaging from an average of 1.5 hours to 45 minutes per day per team member within onbe month.

Interpretation:

  • Specific: I’m going to help the team communicate better to free up time wasted on communication inefficiencies. This way, the team can spend this time on their core responsibilities instead.
  • Measurable: Our time-tracking software shows that team members spend an average of 1.5 hours per day on email. We aim to cut this time in half to 45 minutes per day.
  • Achievable: We can avoid the confusion created by long email chains with a team messaging solution like Slack. If we implement a messaging solution, it’s plausible that we can drastically reduce the time spent on email.
  • Relevant: I want to empower my team to produce their best work and increase their impact by reducing time wasted on unnecessary and inefficient tasks.
  • Time-bound: We will implement a messaging solution within two weeks and half the time spent on communication within the next month

5 tips for using SMART goals

Sprecific smart goals

1. Break larger goals into smaller ones

If your goal feels overwhelming, or if you feel like there are a lot of moving parts to keep track of, break it down into smaller goals. This way, you’ll be able to move through the process in a linear way, clearing out any dependencies that are getting in the way of advancing.

2. Share with everyone involved

Naturally, you’ll share your SMART goals with anyone who’s directly involved in making them happen. But you might also consider sharing with others who are involved, but not necessarily in a direct way. These third parties can help keep you accountable and motivated, and you’ll all be on the same page.

3. Physically write them down

If you keep the goal in your head, the odds dramatically increase that you might forget or unintentionally move the target. By writing them down, you’re ensuring that they stay crystal clear. Try putting your goal somewhere noticeable, like a sticky note on your desk or a calendar alert as you hit critical milestones.

4. Pivot or tweak as needed

As with many things in life, it might not work out as you planned. (It’s practically a guarantee that this will happen eventually.) When roadblocks or changes come up, keep a flexible and creative mindset so you can roll with the punches. Think about how you can make adjustments while still keeping the main objective intact.

5. Failure is OK—learn from it

Building off the previous point: sometimes, staying flexible isn’t enough. Don’t be deterred by failure. It’s a natural part of life, and even the world’s most successful people have plenty of failures that taught them valuable lessons to get where they are now.

Leading with your own smart goal

If you’re struggling to meet your goals, or looking for an interesting new way to frame them, SMART goal setting might be right up your alley. When you follow each of the five steps, you’ll have a clear and straightforward path to work toward. You’ll also be able to better coordinate and collaborate with others, whether they’re your team, stakeholders, or friends and family.

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