Set SMART Goals for Success

Goal-setting is a great way to set a target and reach it

If you were to look at the habits of highly successful people, you would see that many of them make it a practice to set goals for themselves. Setting goals is a terrific tool for self-improvement. Goal-setting helps you to target the improvements that need to be made and work your way toward success.

Have you ever tried setting goals? If not, now is a great time to start. Before shooting for the stars, it’s best to start out with smaller goals that you know you can obtain. As you get better and better at setting and achieving your goals, you can set harder and longer-range goals.

To start, you might want to try the SMART acronym. It’s a popular way to help people understand how to set challenging yet achievable goals. Here it is:

S: Specific
Setting specific goals is the first rule. A broad, unspecific goal like “I’m going to lose weight” is the kind of goal that is likely to fail. Instead, make the goal more specific, like: “I am going to lose 8 pounds in 30 days.” Having a specific goal gives you something to shoot for and helps you focus your efforts better.

M: Measurable
Setting measurable goals is the best way to know if you’ve achieved your goals. By saying “I am going to lose 8 pounds in 30 days,” you know exactly how much weight you need to lose and how long you have to lose it.

A: Achievable
Achievability is very important. If you set unreasonable goals, you will only get frustrated and give up when you are unable to attain them. Make sure your goal is not too easy, but at the same time, be sure that it is possible to reach.

R: Rewarding
Don’t forget your rewards! You want to set a goal that is meaningful to you so that you feel a sense of reward and accomplishment once you have completed it. You can even give yourself a reward or an incentive once you accomplish your goal, in order to help motivate yourself.

T: Time-bound
Putting a timeline on your goals is helpful. It holds you more accountable and gives you a clear finish line. Once you’ve met your first goal, you can simply set a new one following the SMART method.

Setting goals is great, but how should you go about achieving them? Most goals can be achieved with a little planning, some hard work, and a determination to succeed. Here are some tips to achieve your goals:

  • Create a timeline or calendar where you write down what needs to be done to reach your goal.
  • Make to-do lists to remind yourself of the needed tasks.
  • Think about obstacles that may prevent you from succeeding, and find a way around them.
  • Go public with your goal. Tell others about it, and this may help keep you on track.
  • Write your goal on a poster or on small signs around your home where you can see it every day.
  • If you get off track, don’t give up. Start up again the next day and push forward.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask others for help in reaching your goal.

To help you get on track toward your goals, try these organization tips for students. We hope you find that these suggestions are helpful. Keep in mind that you can use these goal-setting tips anywhere—for your school work, in your career, and in your personal life. Once you start setting SMART goals, you will be impressed by what you achieve!


The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health provides student advice in its weekly blog. Find out more about our career-focused training programs by contacting us online.

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