SMART Goal: M is for Measurable


SMART goals promote success. The criteria for a SMART goal is one that is:

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

Last time, we looked closer at the S in SMART, Specific. Chris and Sarah are our clients. Chris wants to lose weight to improve his health and mobility. Sarah wants to improve her time management to reduce stress. After applying the criteria of Specific in the previous post, we discovered these goals:

  • Chris: Limit his caloric intake to a specific amount per day.
  • Sarah: Choose to say no to a given number of tasks per day.

Adding the second criteria, Measurable, adds a new dimension to our process. While these goals are specific, are they measurable? At first, they do appear to meet this criteria. Chris and Sarah can measure their respective goals by either counting calories or counting the number of times requests are declined in a given day. These measurements do not appear related to their original goals. How does counting calories indicate Chris’ increase health and mobility? How does saying no reduce Sarah’s stress? It’s difficult to see how these measures relate to each client’s desired outcome.

Let’s start with Chris. How can we make his goals of better health and mobility measurable?
While weight loss in pounds is often the typical target, there may be other measures that are more meaningful. Chris became aware of his need for improving his health during his annual physical exam, when he learned his blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels were elevated. His doctor informed Chris he may prescribe medication for either one or both of these issues in six months at Chris’ follow-up visit. Chris wants to avoid taking medication. Chris also learned that when he tried to walk for exercise, he discovered he can only walk for 15 minutes before getting too tired to continue.

More measurable and meaningful goals for Chris may be any one of all of the following:

  1. Decrease in blood pressure level.
  2. Decrease in LDL cholesterol level.
  3. Increase in number of minutes he can walk without tiring.

All of these goals are specific and measurable for better health and mobility.

Sarah wants to reduce her stress through better time management. Unlike Chris, Sarah’s stress is not reflected in a direct physical measure, such as blood pressure. How can Sarah find a way to measure a decrease in her stress?

Self-report might be the answer. Sarah knows that she experiences stress based on the following thoughts and feelings:

  • almost constant thoughts about what she has to do next
  • feeling helpless, which may or may not result in tears
  • feelings of exhaustion

Sarah’s coach has asked her to rate on a scale of 1-10, how stressful she feels each day. Currently Sarah notes she experiences a stress level of 8 at least four days a week. By noting at the end of each day her stress level based on the presence of these thoughts and feelings, Sarah can use either one or both of these goals:

  1. No days per week when her stress level is higher than 5.
  2. Four days a week when her stress level is 3 or lower.

Both of these goals are specific and measurable ways to measure Sarah’s stress level.

Chris’ and Sarah’s goals are still a work in progress. Now that they are Specific and Measureable, we will consider next how to include Action-based, the third criteria for SMART goals.

Until next time…



Take GOOD care of yourself.


  1. Pam, this blog causes some very creative thoughts for me. I never thought of developing a realistic plan to meet my goals. Thank you.

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