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When you think five, ten, or fifteen years into the future, what do you hope will be significantly different than it is today?
Your income? Your health? Your relationships?
We all have visions for the future, and whatever yours may be, setting effective goals can help you get there by keeping you motivated, helping you feel confident, and making sure you stay focused.
You may be able to recognize goals from your past that were unattainable because they were vague, lofty, or not planned out very well, which probably felt discouraging. Trying to follow through with nonchalant goals often leads to failure, which will prevent you from achieving any significant growth. The key to being successful in any area of your life is to be intentional about your goal-setting by creating the right kind of goal and sticking to it.
In this article, we will do a quick overview of what SMART goals are, and then go over five examples of SMART goals in each of the seven areas of your life — for a total of 35 examples.
Let’s start by reviewing what SMART goals are.
What are SMART Goals?
The SMART goal acronym stands for:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
Each element of this goal-setting framework plays a part in making a clearly planned path to achieving your objectives and tracking your progress along the way. This will give your goals a strong foundation that will increase your chances of realizing your vision.
Here’s a breakdown of each letter:
Specific goals answer your six “W” questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why.
Answering these questions will define your goal and eliminate ambiguity.
The more specific your goal is, the more clearly you will be able to define the steps you need to take to get there.
How will you know you’re making progress toward your goal? Measurable goals are defined with precise times, amounts, or other units that will clearly define how far you’ve come and how far you have left to go.
Measurable goals will help you keep track of your pace along the way and give you a chance to re-evaluate and shift direction as needed.
A measurable goal will typically answer questions such as how much or how many.
Attainable goals are challenging, yet realistic.
When you’re creating an attainable goal, you can expect to encounter obstacles along the way, but even if you fail, you’ll still make significant progress in some area of your life.
Time-bound goals have specific deadlines, which will help you prioritize and stay motivated. The deadline for your goal may be days or decades away, you just have to check back with the “Realistic” component to determine this.
To set a reasonable deadline, try working backward from your designated finish line and develop appropriate habits.
And, because your goals are specific, when your deadline approaches, you will know whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.
Let’s look at some examples of SMART goals for all areas of your life. We will go over both process and outcome goals to give you a variety that will help explain this concept in a more comprehensive way.
35 SMART Goals Examples for All Areas of Your Life
SMART Career Goals
Being goal-oriented is an important part of having a successful career and preventing yourself from staying stagnant in the same position for years on end. Whether you have a professional skill that you want to refine or you want to own a worldwide corporation, you need to have goals that will challenge you to push beyond what you believe to be your limits.
Here are five examples of SMART career goals:
- Acquire new clients: “I will acquire five new projects for my Web design consultancy through referrals, networking, and social media marketing campaigns within two months.”
- Improve job performance: “I will redo my company’s website design by May 1st. This will be done by finding the right graphic designer and Web programmer, then using their skills to create a dynamic visual presentation.”
- Increase profits: “I will increase profits by 20 percent this year by acquiring two new clients each week, finishing projects 10 percent faster than I have in the past, and cutting $1,000 per month in expenditures.”
- Start your own business: “I will start my own business within five years so I can incorporate innovative ideas into my industry to fill unmet needs. I will start by researching how to start a business, current business trends, and funding resources.”
- Get hired: “I will find a job in the next 6 months that is in line with my knowledge, skills, and abilities. I will do this by applying to at least three jobs and speaking to at least one professional contact each week.”
Check out these other examples to help you set SMART goals for your career:
- 7 SMART Goals Examples for Your Small Business Development
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Social Workers
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Engineers
- 7 Examples of SMART Goals for Project Management
- 6 Examples of SMART Goals for Your Work or Job
SMART Finance Goals
Whether you’re aiming to save for retirement, buy your dream home, plan a vacation, or simply get out of debt, setting SMART financial goals will ensure your success.
Here are five SMART finance goals you can set:
- Regular savings: “For the next year, I will save 20 percent of every paycheck and invest it in index funds through my 401k.”
- Living within a budget: “I will create a budget of $4,000 every month. Then I’ll use the envelope budgeting system to track every expense and make sure I’m spending less than this amount.”
- Eliminate credit card debt: “I will pay the outstanding balance of $5,000 on my credit cards in installments and become totally debt-free in three years. This will be done by asking each credit card company to reduce my APR. Then I’ll systematically pay off the cards with the highest interest rates down to the lowest interest rates.”
- Buy a house: “I will buy a house around $400,000 within two years with a 20% down payment. I will do this by increasing the money I set aside from each paycheck to $300 by reducing all unnecessary spending.”
- Retire early: In order to retire early, I will read at least three books on saving for retirement within the next six months in addition to investing at least $10,000 into my retirement accounts each year for the next ten years.”
SMART Health Goals
Setting SMART health goals will help you stay committed and accountable in an area of life that can quickly become a slippery slope. When creating a healthy lifestyle, your goals might involve eating a clean diet, losing weight, or becoming more physically active.
Here are five SMART health goals you can set:
- Eat more vegetables and fruits: “I will eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily by March 31 by mapping out my meals each week, going shopping twice a week, and eating one to two servings per meal.”
- Get regular exercise: “I will work out a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three days per week by December 31.”
- Healthy habit: “By June 15, I will drink 64 ounces (or 2 liters) of water at work every day. I will do this by setting a reminder at night to fill up my bottles and take them with me when I leave for work in the morning.”
- Build muscle: “I will be able to do six consecutive pull-ups in the next three months to help increase my muscle mass. I will do this by strength training on my own at the gym twice a week in addition to meeting with a personal trainer once per week.”
- Mental health: “I will learn how to gain better control of my emotions by the end of this year by writing in my gratitude journal for ten minutes per day to help myself maintain perspective when life feels challenging.”
For other health goal ideas, check out these SMART goals for your physical education.
SMART Relationship Goals
Relationships and goals often go hand in hand, whether you’re focusing on your relationships with family, friends, colleagues, or even your relationship with yourself. These goals could focus on your relationship with one person or an entire group of people.
Here are five SMART relationship goals you can set:
- Express love to my spouse: “I will identify three things I really love about my partner and tell her about them on Friday night. This will be done by scheduling a 30-minute block on Tuesday so I can reminisce about all the good times we’ve shared together.”
- Spend quality time with your family: “I will strengthen my bond with my family by taking them for a vacation at least once in the next six months. This will be accomplished by setting aside an hour each month during my weekly review session and planning out future trip ideas.”
- Strengthen friendships: “Each month, I will plan and coordinate one activity with my closest friends. This task will also be completed during my weekly review session.”
- Improve communication: “I will spend 15 uninterrupted minutes at least four nights per week touching base with my partner regarding things going on in our everyday lives and our plans for the upcoming days to eliminate miscommunication.”
- Your relationship with yourself: “I will read one self-help book per month for the next year to get rid of existing self-sabotaging behaviors.”
SMART Leisure Goals
Don’t mistake ‘leisure time’ as a free pass to sit around doing nothing. Instead, optimize this time by catching up on unfinished tasks or developing new skills. Stay productive by focusing on activities that can benefit you either personally or professionally, such as travelling, engaging in hobbies, or relaxing your body.
Here are five SMART leisure goals you can set:
- Family fun: “I will enjoy the Maid of the Mist boat ride in Niagara Falls with my family on August 31st. On Saturday (March 1), I will spend two hours planning this trip and making all the necessary reservations.”
- Learn new skills: “I will learn rock climbing this summer and climb a simple Class 4 at Yosemite. This will be accomplished by joining the local climbing class that meets on Saturdays during the wintertime. Then I’ll join a week-long course in the summer to exponentially develop my climbing skills.”
- Outdoor activities: “I will spend at least one hour outdoors every day tending my garden, jogging or power walking. This will be done by blocking out an hour for each day during my weekly review and setting a daily reminder to get outdoors.”
- See friends: “I will go out to lunch at least once a month with a friend that I don’t often see to help myself disconnect from everyday life and maintain interaction with people who are outside of my close circle.”
- Learn a language: “I will attain fluency in French in the next 18 months in preparation for travelling through France at the end of next year. I will do this by practicing speaking French for at least 45 minutes per day and reading at least one book that’s written in French per month.”
SMART Personal Growth Goals
We all want to increase our quality of life, achieve more, and be the best version of ourselves that we can. Setting personal development goals will help you be successful in these areas by helping you get a little better every day.
Here are five SMART personal growth goals you can set:
- Self-Education: “I will read one book every two weeks for the entire calendar year. Some of this reading will be accomplished during my morning routine.”
- Getting Up Early: “For the next 3 months, I will wake up 30 minutes early, so I can build a morning routine.”
- Build a Morning Routine: “For the next 3 months, I will pick 5 important habits that will be added to my new morning routine and complete this routine every morning.”
- Self-care: “I will engage in self-care for one hour at least three times per week to increase my ability to be resilient in the face of adversity and improve my capacity to help others by helping myself first.”
- Prioritize: “I will spend at least one hour per week analyzing my personal well-being, including reviewing my work/life balance, addressing my limiting beliefs, and internalizing a mindset that encourages my actions to align with my goals.”
SMART Spirituality Goals
For many people, spiritual well-being is as important as their physical or mental health. Your spiritual goals should be designed to help you connect to your inner beliefs, which has a different meaning for everybody. This could include activities like meditation, prayer, yoga, or anything else that helps you experience peace of mind and connect with something bigger than yourself.
Here are five SMART spirituality goals you can set:
- Meditate regularly: “I will meditate for 10 minutes each morning. This habit will be developed by setting an alert for 7:20 a.m. using the alarm app on my phone.”
- Being thankful: “I will take five minutes each day to give thanks for everything that’s good in my life. I will develop this habit by setting aside time right before my lunch to remember what’s important.”
- Prayer: “I will set aside 10 minutes each day and pray to God. This habit will be added to my nighttime routine — right before I go to sleep.”
- Self-reflection: “I will do one hour of self-reflection every Sunday to make sure my daily actions align with my values and beliefs. This will help me remain on the right spiritual path and stay true to myself.”
- Create peace: “I will promote peace in my life by pinpointing sources of conflict that can be addressed and setting boundaries on what I will and will not tolerate. I will spend 30 minutes problem-solving each week to ease tensions and cultivate peace and spiritual growth.”
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals Examples for All Areas of Your Life
Despite which area of your life you’re focusing on, if you aim at nothing… you will probably accomplish nothing. The SMART goals listed in this article are meant to provide you with a foundation to identify what you want to improve in your life and how you plan on doing that.
Choose some goals from this article that you can relate to (and alter any numbers as needed) and let the SMART goal-setting method do the work for you. You’ll likely find that you can achieve more than you originally believed and, with a strong sense of direction, you will know exactly where you want to go next after you achieve each goal.
If you need more help, here's our roundup of the best SMART goals templates to help you get started.
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.