SMART Goal: S is for Specific


Using the SMART goal framework increases your chance of achieving your goals. The criteria for a SMART goal is one that is:

  • S Specific
  • M Measurable
  • A Action-Based
  • R Realistic
  • T Time-bound

We’re going to look at SMART goal setting using two clients. Chris wants to lose weight to improve his health and mobility. Sarah wants to improve her time management skills to reduce stress. Both need to make their goals more specific.

Let’s start with Chris. Weight loss seems like an easy goal to make specific. Weight is all about numbers, so most people just pick an amount of weight to lose. Chris could say he wants to lose 20 pounds. While this is a specific number, this goal does not meet the criteria. Chris has no direct control over his weight. He has indirect control by increasing exercise and reducing food intake, but he cannot directly control how much or how quickly he loses weight. A more specific goal would be to limit himself to a given number of calories per day.

Sarah’s targets of time management and stress reduction are broader and more vague than Chris’ weight loss. Sarah could set her goal to do less tasks in a day. This is a specific goal, but it needs further refining. After discussing the matter with her coach, Sarah recognizes that she accepts all tasks that are asked of her by her employer, her family and her friends. As a result, she finds herself pressured for time every day. Since she often cannot do everything that is asked of her, she also feels incompetent. Sarah realizes that she does not allow herself to question whether taking on a task is necessary or something that she wants to do. She simply says yes. A more specific goal for Sarah would be to choose to say no to a given number of tasks a day.

I used these two examples to illustrate two points:

  1. Even goals that initially seem specific, such as weight loss, may require further refining.
  2. Careful consideration can allow you to set specific goals in areas that seem vague, such as in relationships, communication, and stress management.

This is just a start for Chris and Sarah’s goals. Next time I will discuss how to make their goals meet the next criteria, Measurable.

Until next time…



Take good care.





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