Specific goals are goals that have clear and well-defined goals.
studies showthat you are three times more likely to achieve those goals when you set your goals precisely. It's an even higher indicator of success thanintrinsicMotivation.
To make your goals more concrete, write down what you will look like when you reach your goal. You can write functions like:
- Erathe goal looks like when it is achieved
- Andis achieved
- Woyou will do it
- Asyou will get there
- BecauseDo you want to achieve this goal?
Similar to the study cited above, the research participants were asked to write the following:
"Over the next week, I will do at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] at [LOCATION]."
Specific objectives and the SMART framework
Being specific is central to the SMART Goals framework. It's the first of five key points you need to articulate to achieve your goal. The five points of the SMART acronym are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and limited in time.
Why is it important for goals to be specific?
Goals need to be specific to help us see what the road will look like to get there.
Too often, our goal is a blanket statement like "become more motivated," "stay resilient," and "strive for excellence."
if we write themparticularitiesof our goals, we can go beyond a general statement about our desires. Instead, we will be able to write down tangible things that show what success will look like.
Examples of specific objectives
1. Apply for 5 jobs within 10 days
Meta:"I will apply for 5 positions within 20 days."
Why is it specific:This objective adds specific details such as:how manyJobs you apply for andthe time windowin which it is achieved To be more specific, specify exactly what these 5 jobs are. For example, you might say, "I'm applying to Costco on Wednesday at 4:00 PM, Target on Friday at 4:00 PM, Walmart on Sunday at 4:00 PM, Safeway on Tuesday at 4:00 PM. and the following Thursday at Trader Joe's at 4 p.m."
|Specific||I will apply for 5 positions within 10 days. I will contact Costco on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. m., Target on Friday at 4:00 p.m. m., Walmart on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. m., Safeway on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. m. and the following Thursday at 4:00 p.m. m. to Trader Joe's.|
|Measurable||At 4:00 p.m. on the aforementioned days, I can mark whether or not I have submitted an application.|
|Accessible||I created a resume so I know I can accept it. All I have to do is prepare a cover letter and find the right email address to apply to.|
|Important||Getting a job helps me pay my bills and helps me go to college.|
|limited in time||I will achieve this goal within 10 days. Registration closes on Thursday at 4:00 p.m. next week.|
2. Achieve a score of 80% or higher on my exam
Meta:"I'm going to try to get a score of 80% or better on my psychology test, which I'll take on May 25."
Why is it specific:The goal specifies exactly what grade you want to get on exactly what exam. To be more specific, you could explain how you will study to make sure you reach the goal.
|Specific||My goal is to score 80% or better on my psychology test that I will take on May 25th. To achieve this goal, I will use flashcards to memorize important points for the exam every day between 5:30 and 6:00 p.m. m.|
|Measurable||The measure of success on the exam is 80%.|
|Accessible||I got a 77% on my previous psychology test. I'm close to 80% and this extra effort boost will help me get there.|
|Important||Earning 80% will allow me to maintain my GPA so I can better position myself for a degree and a job in psychology.|
|limited in time||My goal must be reached before May 25, when I will take my exam.|
3. Run the city marathon in July in less than 5.5 hours
Meta:"I will run the City Marathon in July in less than 5.5 hours."
Why is it specific:This goal specifies which marathon you will run, the date you will run it, and the target time to beat. To be more specific, you could explain how you will train to make sure you reach the goal.
|Specific||I will run the city marathon in July in less than 5.5 hours. To achieve this goal, I will complete a 15K run every Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon.|
|Measurable||The measure of success is completing the marathon in less than 5.5 hours.|
|Accessible||I ran my last marathon in 5 hours and 45 minutes. This is an incremental step forward.|
|Important||Running the marathon in less than 5.5 hours is the culmination of 18 months of physical training.|
|limited in time||The city marathon takes place on July 15.|
4. Complete a 15-slide presentation on goal setting strategies
Meta:"I will be completing a 15 slide presentation on goal setting strategies for my team at work on the 15th of this month."
Why is it specific:The objective specifies how many slides the presentation will have, what it will be about, and when it will be presented.
|Specific||I will be completing a 15 slide presentation on goal setting strategies for my team at work on the 15th of this month. The strategies discussed in the presentation are the following:SMART target frameworkand theSWOT analysisMarco.|
|Measurable||The measures of success are: 15-slide presentation, presentation as per my boss's requirements, and answers to all post-presentation questions.|
|Accessible||I have good public speaking skills so I can do this.|
|Important||The presentation will help me demonstrate my skills in my job and may help me get promoted.|
|limited in time||The presentation will take place on the 15th of this month.|
5. Memorize 50 language flashcards in 7 days
Meta:“I will memorize 50 language flashcards in 7 days. The words on the flashcards will be the 50 most important verbs in Spanish”.
Why is it specific:The goal indicates how many flashcards are to be memorized and what words will be on the flashcards.
|Specific||I will memorize 50 language flashcards in 7 days. The words on the flashcards are the 50 most important verbs in Spanish.|
|Measurable||I can ask a friend to test me at the end of the 7 days to measure my score out of 50.|
|Accessible||This equates to less than 10 new words per day, which I think is achievable.|
|Important||Learning these verbs is necessary to pass my Spanish exams.|
|limited in time||The goal will be completed in 7 days.|
6. Grow my business to earn $10,000 per month by December
Meta:"I'm going to grow my business so I'll be making $10,000 a month by December of this year."
Why is it specific:I found a specific monetary goal and a date. However, I could be more specific describing exactly how I will get there.
|Specific||I will grow my business to earn $10,000 a month by December of this year. I will do this by working later in the afternoon so I can serve 5 more clients per month.|
|Measurable||I can gauge this by looking at my income for the month of December.|
|Accessible||Since I have added more hours to my work week, I think I can do it.|
|Important||Earning more money can help me and my family live more comfortably.|
|limited in time||The goal will be reached on December 31.|
7. Write 700 words a day in my memories
Meta:"I'm going to write my memoirs 700 words a day for 100 days to get to 70,000 words for the first draft."
Why is it specific:
|Specific||I specifically gave an exact number of words to write per day.|
|Measurable||I can use a job counter in Google Docs to measure my word count.|
|Accessible||For 700 words, it usually takes me 1 hour to write and I take 1 hour off every day between 8 p.m. m. and 9 p.m. m. to write those words.|
|Important||I want my memoirs to be complete by the end of the year and this will help me achieve that larger goal.|
|limited in time||The goal will be reached in exactly 100 days.|
8. Read a book a month for 12 months
Meta:"I will read a book a month for 12 months."
Why is it specific:I have given an exact number of books to read. More specifically, I could name which book I will read each month.
|Specific||I will read a book a month for 12 months. The first seven books will be the Harry Potter series books in order, followed by the three Lord of the Rings books, then The Hobbit, and in the last month I will read the first book in the Hunger Games series.|
|Measurable||I can evaluate my progress at the end of each month.|
|Accessible||I will have to read an average of 15 pages a day. I could read them every night before bed in 20 minutes, which is doable.|
|Important||Reading these books will help me improve my reading skills, which has been a long-term goal of mine.|
|limited in time||The goal will be completed exactly within 12 months.|
9. Do 30 push-ups a day for 30 days.
Meta:"I'm going to do 30 pushups a day for 30 days."
Why is it specific:I wrote exactly what I am going to do and for how long. You could be more specific about when you would do them each day.
|Specific||I'm going to do 30 push-ups a day for 30 days. I'll do the push-ups at 8 am right after I've had my morning shake.|
|Measurable||I can measure my success every day, as well as at the end of the 30 days.|
|Accessible||I have the time and core strength to start.|
|Important||This will help me build more strength that meets my training goal.|
|limited in time||The goal will be reached in exactly 30 days.|
10. Save $5000 in 8 months
Meta:"I will save $5000 in 8 months."
Why is it specific:You have an exact amount of money and an exact time frame. I can break it down to $625 per month, which can be achieved by saving 20% of my monthly income.
|Specific||I will save $5000 in 8 months by saving 20% of my monthly income every month.|
|Measurable||I am able to track progress monthly (in dollar amounts) as well as at the end of the 8 month period.|
|Accessible||For this I have to save 20% of my income. After looking at my expenses, I think I can do it.|
|Important||Saving this money will help me pay my college bills.|
|limited in time||The term is 8 months.|
11. Paint my bedroom walls baby blue in 12 hours.
Meta:"I'll be painting my bedroom walls baby blue in 12 hours."
Why is it specific:This goal explains exactly what I'm going to do, what color I'm going to use, what space, and what time frame.
|Specific||I'll be painting my bedroom walls baby blue in 12 hours.|
|Measurable||I can track hour by hour progress by looking at how far I've come in space.|
|Accessible||I have paint, a roller, and a brush, and I've already cleared the room to begin with.|
|Important||You have to paint the room before having a child.|
|limited in time||The goal will be reached by the end of the day.|
12. Walk 10,000 steps a day
Meta:"I will walk 10,000 steps a day for the next 30 days."
Why is it specific:It says how many steps I will take in order to measure success. I must also say how I am going to do it.
|Specific||I will walk 10,000 steps a day for the next 30 days. To achieve this goal, I will add a 1 hour walk home from work instead of taking the bus.|
|Measurable||I will use a pedometer to count the number of steps I take.|
|Accessible||Going home from work every day should accomplish that.|
|Important||This will help improve my general physical condition, which is a goal my doctor set for me.|
|limited in time||The goal will be evaluated exactly 30 days from today.|
13. Wake up at 5 a.m. m. Monday to Friday
Meta:"I will wake up at 5am Monday through Friday for the entire month of January."
Why is it specific:I have a specific time and days that I need to wake up.
|Specific||I will wake up at 5am Monday through Friday for the entire month of January.|
|Measurable||I can measure that every morning with a yes/no mark.|
|Accessible||I have an alarm clock that will help me with this.|
|Important||If I get up early, I have more time to study what I have to do.|
|limited in time||The objective ends and is counted as a success or failure on January 31st.|
14. I will write 3 blog posts per week for 12 weeks.
Meta:"I will write 3 blog posts a week for 12 weeks to increase my blog traffic."
Why is it specific:I said exactly how many blog posts I'm going to write. I could improve this by creating a content calendar so I know exactly what I'm going to write each week.
|Specific||I will write 3 blog posts per week for 12 weeks to increase my blog traffic. I will write a blog post on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and each blog post will be 1500 words.|
|Measurable||I can gauge success on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday by looking at the job count and whether I clicked the publish button.|
|Accessible||I took my time on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday afternoons to achieve this goal.|
|Important||I need to do this to grow my blog.|
|limited in time||This goal will be reached in 12 weeks (36 blog posts).|
15. I will hike 7 mountains by the end of the summer.
Meta:"I will walk seven mountains by the end of the summer climbing a mountain every Saturday."
Why is it specific:I have indicated how many mountains I will walk and what days I will do it and when it will be finished. However, you could name the hikes to add more detail.
|Specific||I will walk seven mountains by the end of the summer climbing a mountain every Saturday.|
|Measurable||I can mark these mountains one by one.|
|Accessible||I have the basic level of fitness and all the hiking gear I need. I can also drive to the bottom of any mountain in my four wheel drive.|
|Important||That aligns with my New Years resolution to enjoy my summer!|
|limited in time||The goal will be reached in 7 weeks on Saturday.|
Research shows that setting specific goals makes you 3 times more likely to achieve your goals. Specific objectives are also the central feature of the SMART objectives framework. In fact, the following metrics (measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) are simpleadd more detailsto your SMART target!
Milne, S., Orbell, S. & Sheeran, P. (2002). Combining Motivational and Voluntary Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions,british journal of health psychology, 7(2): 163–184. Doi:https://doi.org/10.1348/135910702169420
Chris Drew (PhD)
website |+ Publications
dr. Chris Drew is the founder of The Helpful Professor. He has a PhD in Education and has published more than 20 articles in professional journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education.