Original Editor - Kapil Narale

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

It can be said that "a goal is the intended outcome of a specific set of interventions", [1] and as described in the Oxford English Dictionary, a goal is "The object to which effort or ambition is directed; the destination of a (more or less laborious) journey. An end or result towards which behavior is consciously or unconsciously directed.’ [1] This helps explain goal setting, in general, but goal setting in the context of Physiotherapy and rehabilitation is discussed in Goal Setting in Rehabilitation.

One method of goal setting is using SMART goals. SMART goals are ideal since they can help you accomplish any task or objective, big or small, and they encompass details like, specific information on the goal or objective, how, when, and if it will be accomplished, and the timeframe or duration aspects of accomplishing the goal. [2]

In fact, common reasons for setting goals are:

  • Increase something
  • Make something
  • Improve something
  • Reduce something
  • Save something
  • Develop Yourself

SMART goals are essential for health, fitness, and recovery, since they let you set a measurable objective, track your progress, are clear and motivating, and thus provide a good incentive to accomplish the goal. [3]

SMART goals should be intrinsically motivating. Remember that the goal is set for yourself, with your lifestyle and factors considered, not from an external source. [4] With SMART goals, you are focusing more on the process rather than the outcome. You want to make sure you can maintain your goal, and thus that it is sustainable. [3]

SMART Goals, The Acronym[edit | edit source]


Generally, the acronym of SMART goals may be known as: [1]

S Specific
M Measurable
A Attainable
R Realistic
T Time-bound

In fact, each of the letters of SMART can have various words attached to them, but all with a similar meaning. These different words/labels could be: [1]

S Specific, significant, stretching, simple, stimulating, succinct, straight forward, self owned, self managed, self controlled, strategic, sensible
M Measurable, meaningful, motivational, manageable, magical, magnetic, maintainable, mapped to goals
A Agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented, attributable, actionable, appropriate, ambitious, aspirational, accepted/acceptable, aligned, accountable, agreed, adapted, as-if-now
R Realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented, resources are adequate, resourced, recorded, reviewable, robust, relevant to a mission
T Time-based, timely, tangible, trackable, tactical, traceable, toward what you want, and many starting with ‘time-’ (e.g. -limited, -constrained, etc.)

The SMART acronym can also be extended to SMARTER. The 'ER' can indicate: [1]

E Ethical, exciting, enjoyable, extending, evaluated, engaging, energizing
R Recorded, reviewed, rewarded, realistic, relevant, resourced, research-based

The meaning of each of the SMART components will be explained below. An explanation of how to write or display SMART goals will then be provided.

S[edit | edit source]

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With S for 'Specific', you want to know the details of what it is you want to do. What is it that will be accomplished? What actions are you hoping/planning to take? [2]

When outlining the specifics of your goal, you want to make sure your description encompasses the 5 Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. [2][3]

Who - this is not asking who the goal is for, ie. 'You', but who/which individuals are involved, or need to be involved, in accomplishing the goal? [2]

What - What is it that you want to accomplish? Be as specific as possible. [2]

Where - Identify the location or event, if relevant. This may not necessarily apply to all types of goals. [2]

When - Think about and identify a timeframe for your goal. This will also be identified in the 'T' of SMART goals. [2]

Why - What is the reason or relevance of this goal? If it is a personal goal, the answer shouldn't be something as simple as, 'I feel like' or 'I want to', or if it is career or academic related, the reasoning should be more than 'I need to' or 'for advancement'. [2]

M[edit | edit source]

With 'M' for Measurable, you want to indicate how you will measure your your progress. What kind of metrics are you collecting to monitor your progress? [2]

If its not a quantitative type of measurement, but different stages to complete, you can set separate qualitative objectives as milestones to complete in a certain order. This can help track the progress of your goal or accomplishment, and will help measure your success. [2]

With this step being 'measurable', you do want something to 'measure' to to help measure your progress. [2]

In term of fitness and exercise, or even in terms of rehabilitation, making a goal of sets or repetitions of exercises to perform, a specific weight or 1RM to lift, or a distance and time to run, keeping track of these, and increasing it when appropriate, falls into the category of being 'measurable'. [5]

Biceps contraction.jpg

A[edit | edit source]

With 'A' for Achievable, you want to outline how this goal will come about. Think of the ways, and whether, this goal is attainable. [2] You want to make sure the goal and objective is not out of reach. [3]

If it requires new skills, techniques, or habits, or a different routine, you may need to adopt a new mindset to accomplish the goal. [2]

R[edit | edit source]

With 'R' for Relevant, you want to consider how applicable and significant the goal is. Do the components of this goal actually serve the purpose of what you want to accomplish? [2]

This step is almost like a 'check' to ensure that you're heading in the right direction. [2] As with attainable, you want to make sure it is not out of reach, in terms of other commitments, such as work, family, personal obligations, and maintaining your health and wellbeing. [3]

T[edit | edit source]


With 'T' for Time-Bound, you want to indicate the timeframe/duration of time that you intend to take, to accomplish your goal . Setting a timeframe will help create a sense of priority, importance, and urgency when you are working through your goal. You can also create timeframe objectives for various steps of milestones within your goal. [2]

The concept of time-bound or 'time' can also incorporate frequency. This would be applicable with an exercise routine, strength training program, creating a new habit, or implementing a diet plan. (This is my own line) ...

How to write SMART Goals[edit | edit source]

When outlining the components of S, M, A, R, and T, as much detail as possible should be included to clearly outline and describe your goal. Someone else should be able to read it, and understand your goal. [2]

One you have described each component in detail, you can then outline a description into a few short statements. [2]

You could outline a description, milestone(s), and deadline(s). You can then condense or simply these statements into one descriptive statement outlining your SMART goal. [2]

As you are executing your goal, be sure to track your progress and results using one (or more) of many available methods, such as using a journal or writing down your progress, or using a fitness tracker device or app. [4]

Related Resources[edit | edit source]

Here's some nice videos explaining SMART goals, and their application:




References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Wade DT. Goal setting in rehabilitation: an overview of what, why and how. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2009;23(4):291-5
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 University of California. SMART Goals: A How to Guide. Performance Appraisal Planning 2016-2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kristenson S. Develop Good Habits. 7 SMART Fitness Goals Examples That Will Motivate You. Available from: (accessed 7 July 2022).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Healthline. SMART Fitness Goals Help You Stick with It. Available from: (accessed 8 July 2022).
  5. Sweat. How To Set SMART Fitness Goals. Available from: (accessed 7 July 2022).
  6. 2 Minute Classroom. How to Set SMART Goals | Goal Setting for Students. Available from: (accessed 10 July 2022).
  7. How to Set SMART Goals? Definition, Guide, and Importance of Goal Setting. Available from: (accessed 10 July 2022).
  8. DecisionSkills. SMART Goals | Quick Overview. Available from: (accessed 10 July 2022).