A photo of a person writing down their goals

Are your wellness goals SMART?

April 01, 2021 Written by Alyssa Whittaker, Health and Wellness Extension Agent

We all set goals for ourselves, but are they SMART? S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym and tool that you can use to help us set effective goals. Setting realistic and achievable goals using the SMART acronym can help us adhere to our goals and provide us with clear measures for success! When a goal is SMART, it is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.


Let's break that down further:

Specific — The goal must specifically state what is to be accomplished or achieved. There is no ambiguity or gray area with this goal. It is straightforward and easy to understand.

Measurable — The goal is measurable in some way, whether in minutes, hours, amount of times repeated, or amount of times you will do the task. The measurable aspect of a goal allows us to see if we are making progress.

Attainable — A goal should be within your reach and something you can actually accomplish.

Realistic – Similar to attainable, this goal must be relevant to your particular interests, needs and abilities and realistic to accomplish in the given time frame you allocate for the goal.

Timely — The goals should contain an estimated timeline, deadline, or time frame of completion. This allows you to stay focused and on track and also gives you a point of reference for completion.



Can you identify each piece of the SMART acronym in this goal?

I will go for a 30-minute walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 3 to 3:30 p.m. starting next week.


Additional tips for success

  • Begin each goal with the phrase "I will". This helps you set the expectation to be self-accountable for this goal
  • Set goals on your own! In order to stay motivated and ensure your goal is realistic, it is best to set your own goals based on your own interests. However, it is always helpful to share your goals with others to help keep you accountable!
  • Writing your goals down is an excellent way to 1) check that they are SMART and 2) hold yourself accountable!
  • Identify any barriers that may prevent you from achieving this goal; knowing them ahead of time can help you tackle anything that throws you off.
  • Identify any facilitators or resources that will help you achieve this goal. Facilitators can be others in your life that provide accountability, tools that help you, or locations that may help you accomplish your goal.
  • Reward yourself! Think of a reward you can give yourself for completing your goal once it is accomplished! Some rewards could be: going on a fun outing, making time for a hobby you enjoy, purchasing new equipment to help you maintain your goal, etc. Caution: Make sure your reward doesn't unravel your progress! For example, if your goal is to get less screen time, your reward shouldn't be binge-watching.


Set SMART goals for everything from work, study, or reading goals to health, exercise and nutrition goals! There is no wrong goal to make SMART. Try it on your own using our SMART goals worksheet. Need a little help brainstorming your goals? Check out our article from last month on the wellness wheel for ideas to get started!


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