What is a SMART goal? How do I make a SMART goal? Why are SMART goals important? These are the most common questions people tend to have when they learn about SMART goals. A SMART goal stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. These five categories can help when a goal needs a clearer understanding (University of California, 2017).

Specific: this is the first category to think about when making a goal. Who, what, where, when, which, and why are all questions that should be asked when a goal is in mind. A goal can’t be set unless there is a purpose to it (University of California, 2017). Who am I going to help, why does it matter, when should it be done, and where can I do this?

The second category is Measurable. Having a method for measuring a goal is important when it comes to the end result. When making a goal we need a way to determine if that goal was achieved, otherwise we are not working to an end. An example of a method of measurement is counting  sick patients in a hospital. If the goal was to have less people in the hospital, then we would need to measure how many people there were before and after the goal to see if there was a change (University of California, 2017). 

The third category is Achievable. It is important to make a goal achievable or it can seem less like a goal and more like a dream. “The goal is meant to inspire motivation, not discouragement”. Look at what is needed to obtain the goal then evaluate if it would be possible (University of California, 2017). 

The fourth category is Relevant. Relevance is making sure the goal matches the bigger picture of the organization. In one example used in “SMART Goals: A How to Guide”, they compared a new goal of launching a program to the whole company. If there is not a big push for a new program, then the goal for a new launch may not be relevant for the company at that time. It is important at this stage to discuss the goal with the whole group (University of California, 2017). 

The fourth and final category is Time-Bound. When setting goals, it is important to provide a target date that is realistic. If similar goals take six months to accomplish, then setting a goal for three months may not be realistic to achieve. Another aspect of time-bound is doing check-ins half-way through the process. This will help when evaluating the end date (University of California, 2017). 


University of California. (2017). Smart goals: A how to guide – UCOP. University of California.  


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