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Smart Goals can Help Chart a Path

Charting a Path to Your Future: How to Set Goals

coffee on a chart

Charting a Path to Your Future, How to Set Goals

Summary: SMART goals are a way to detail how you will reach your intended milestone. Examples of each of the five SMART goal characteristics can help you write your own.

Write SMART Goals for an Actionable Plan Toward Success

Setting specific, practical goals that reflect your interests and values is a great way to begin charting a path to your future. Clear goals can help you focus on the steps you need to take. An easy-to-use goal-setting model is called the SMART Goals Model. Read on for more information about how to use SMART to set future goals.

What Is the SMART Goals Model?

what is the smart goals model

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. The SMART Goals Model helps you concentrate on specific steps in your career journey and write clear, focused goals. As you create your SMART goals, you will evaluate what you are trying to achieve by assessing what actions you need to take to reach your goal.

How to Set SMART Goals

Follow the SMART Goals Model by making your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.


Write your goal using clear, short, and direct terms. Avoid vague language and generalizations. Anyone reading your goal should know exactly what you want to accomplish.

Example: I will have a 3.5 GPA by the end of the semester.


Set a benchmark or standard that will help you track your progress and let you know when you’ve reached your goal.

Example: The GPA of 3.5 is the measure.



Be sure your goal is achievable with the resources you have. These can be personal resources or community resources. Consider how long it will take, potential obstacles, and measurement methods to help you determine the odds of achieving your goal.

Example: A 3.5 GPA is attainable if you begin the semester with a 3.0 GPA, but it may not be if you have a 2.0 GPA. You may need an additional resource to achieve a 3.5, such as sessions with a study group.


Understand that the goal describes the outcome, not the process. The goal defines the result and details your actions to reach it. You have created the goal for a reason.

Example: I want to maintain a 3.5 GPA this semester so that I can qualify for the honor roll and admission to a career tech program.


time bound

Goals need a time frame. Determine a timeline and set a schedule to meet your goal by a specific date. This gives you accountability for meeting your goal and allows you to move forward.

Example: I will raise my GPA to 3.5 by the end of the semester.



How do you make your SMART goals smarter? To make your goals even smarter, add an ER to SMART.


Take the time to review your goal regularly. Are you making progress toward it? Is it still achievable? Are you still within your time frame? Does your method of reaching the goal or the goal itself need to be modified somehow? These questions allow you to evaluate how realistic and achievable your goal is. At times, our goals may change because of life circumstances. It’s essential to evaluate where you are.

Example: I can still achieve my 3.5 GPA by the end of the semester because I currently have a 3.0 mid-semester.


Think about why your goal is important to you. What will achieving it bring you? How will you celebrate or reward yourself when you complete it?

Example: With a 3.5 GPA, I can enroll in aviation school at my career tech and get closer to my dream of being a pilot.

Be Smart!

Goal-setting helps you focus your efforts to achieve success. Using the SMART Goals Model allows you to take specific steps to make your goals more achievable. SMART goals, because they are time-bound, create both accountability and momentum. As you plan your future, take the time to create a SMART goal.