Dos and Don’ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]

Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]

Setting goals is a powerful way to achieve personal and professional success. However, not all goals are created equal, and the way you structure them can significantly impact your chances of success. One effective method for goal-setting is using the SMART framework. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. In this article, we will explore the dos and don’ts of making a SMART goal, along with examples to help you create goals that are clear, achievable, and impactful.

DO Be Specific

When setting a SMART goal, be as specific as possible. Clearly define what you want to accomplish, why it is important, and how you plan to achieve it. Specificity helps you stay focused and motivated throughout your journey.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to get better at public speaking.”

Example (SMART): “I want to improve my public speaking skills by taking a public speaking course and delivering at least two presentations at work within the next three months.”

DON’T Be Vague

Avoid setting vague or ambiguous goals. Vague goals lack clarity and make it difficult to measure progress or success.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to be healthier.”

Example (SMART): “I want to lose 10 pounds in the next three months by following a balanced diet and exercising three times a week.”

DO Ensure Measurability

Make sure your goal is measurable so that you can track your progress and know when you have achieved it. Measurable goals provide a clear indication of success and allow for adjustments if needed.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to read more books.”

Example (SMART): “I want to read 12 books in the next year, averaging one book per month.”

DON’T Set Unrealistic Goals

Avoid setting goals that are unrealistic or too ambitious. Unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and demotivation. Instead, set goals that are challenging yet attainable.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to become a fluent Spanish speaker in one month.”

Example (SMART): “I want to have basic conversational skills in Spanish within six months by attending weekly language classes and practicing with native speakers.”

DO Ensure Relevance

Ensure that your goal is relevant and aligned with your broader objectives and values. Relevance gives your goal purpose and meaning, making it more compelling to pursue.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to learn to play the guitar.”

Example (SMART): “I want to learn to play the guitar within six months to enhance my musical abilities and perform at local open mic events.”

DON’T Set Open-Ended Goals

Avoid setting goals without a specific timeframe. Open-ended goals lack urgency and may lead to procrastination.

Example (Non-SMART): “I want to start my own business someday.”

Example (SMART): “I want to launch my own online boutique within the next year, starting with creating a business plan and finding suppliers within the first three months.”


By following the dos and don’ts of creating a SMART goal, you can increase your chances of success and propel yourself towards achieving your aspirations. Specificity, measurability, achievability, relevance, and time-bound elements ensure that your goals are well-defined, attainable, and aligned with your values. Incorporate the SMART framework into your goal-setting process and watch as your dreams turn into actionable and achievable milestones.

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