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SMART GOALS

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Using SMART goals to Make a Change – 5 Key steps

Are you ready for change? Tired of feeling like you are never making progress on important goals? Following the Steps for Success as outline in SMART goals can be the key to reaching your short-term; medium-term; and long-term goals, using SMART goal principles.


Establishing a goal is an important first step as you need to know what the target is in order to hit the target. The you can start to make a plan.


There are a variety of similar acronyms for SMART goals, and the one I will suggest is:


SMART = Specific/My own goals/Achievable and action-oriented/Realistic/Time-based


I would add a second “A” wherever possible, which is accountability – self-accountability/monitoring is paramount as this is something within your control, whereas accountability via others may not always be within your control, but it does not mean to discount valuable resources such as: close family members and friends; paying someone such as a life coach or counsellor to keep you accountable. For example, weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig can be very helpful because there is education and accountability built into such programs.

  1. Specific - be as specific as possible in your goal – assess the difference between an immediate/short-term goals vs. medium or long-term goals. Foe example, a short-term goal could be to go to the gym twice this week, whereas a long-term goal could be to run a marathon.

  2. Measurable/MY own goal – establish is this is a goal for you, and that the outcome of achieving this goal is solely based upon your efforts, although you can ask others to assist or hold you accountable. What is the measure you are planning to use i.e. if you plan to workout 3 times per week, then following through and exercising 3 X during 7 days would be a way to measure your success.

  3. Achievable – is this goal achievable based upon your current situation? It is advised not to have 7/7 goals i.e. setting a goal of attempting to meet up with friends twice in one week may be more achievable than meeting up with friends every day for a week, particularly if you have other obligations.

  4. Realistic – Choose a goal you KNOW you can reach in the short-term prior to making more extensive or long-term goals. For example, if you have not gone jogging or running in the past year, simply creating a goal of going running for 10 minutes would be more realistic than planning to run a 5K.

  5. Time-based – having a time-based goal can facilitate a sense of achievement. It is important to begin with shorter goals initially and work towards longer and more extensive goals after the more immediate goals have been achieved.

A SMART goal-setting handout is available at the end of this post. Simply put in your first name and email address and the free handout will be emailed directly to your in-box.


Next weeks blog will focus on sharing your goal with someone and the power of support and accountability.


Tanya Hansen, MSc (CMHC), MTS (Coun), CCC is a psychotherapist/counsellor and life coach


Web-based and telephonic services are also available for distance client in Canada. Life Coach services are available internationally.





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