SMART Goal Examples to Guide Your Goal-Setting
The SMART goals system is an easy resource for creating thoughtful goals and testing the merits of existing ones. Here are some SMART goal examples that will help you unlock the full power behind each of the five letters. Use these SMART goal examples to see how you and your team can think up more conducive goals.
It’s sometimes ironic that when a friend or professor asks you to be more specific, it’s not always easy to know what they mean. That’s because to be more specific, you first need to recognize where you’re being vague. It takes a critical eye. Take this goal as an example:
“We’re going to connect with various community members to see where our fundraiser can make the most impact.”
For this to be a feasible goal, you need to identify whose face is really behind that pesky word “various.” If possible, name names, as in these SMART goal examples.
“We’re going to connect with the food pantry’s manager to see where our fundraiser can make the most impact.”
“Seek the Music Business Organization’s and the Artists Coalition’s support to co-sponsor our festival.”
Or how about this goal:
“We’re going to publicize the club rugby team’s exhibition game in the quad.”
The verb publicize, like the verb connect in the example before it, doesn’t give a clear sense of what action your student organization is going to take. Which methods will you use? Advertising on social media? Pamphleting? Making individual phone calls?
Even when your goals are high-minded, including language like “stronger” or “better,” you’re still working with vague, subjective wording that makes it hard to pin down your course of action.
The best SMART goal examples attach definite numbers and values to the goal’s actions. Compare these SMART goal examples, for instance.
“We’re going to advertise on social media, spread flyers, and make phone calls to help publicize the rugby team’s exhibition game.”
“We’re going to advertise on social media for one week, post 50 flyers in all the classroom buildings, and each make 10 phone calls to help publicize the rugby team’s exhibition game.”
Now, nobody in your student organization can claim they don’t understand the goal, because the numbers in these SMART goal examples make the instructions pretty clear from here on out.
These next SMART goal examples show how measurable goals can make fundraising less of a headache:
“We’re going to collect 500 items as part of the Thanksgiving food and coat drive.”
“We’re going to collect $2,000 from 60 participants to help fund the bus trip to D.C.”
In these SMART goal examples, the cash values will help make it very clear whether you succeeded in your goal or not.
The most thoughtful SMART goal examples are goals that let you do something. Seem obvious? You would be surprised how many student organizations create goals that they’re powerless to achieve—all because they haven’t broken it down into smaller, piecemeal actions.
Compare these SMART goal examples.
“Lobby for more locally grown food in the dining halls.”
“Collect 1,000 petition signatures from students, sit down and meet with the cafeteria manager, sit down with the student body president, present research to administrators on the costs and benefits, and discuss vending possibilities with local farmers and growers in order to serve more locally grown food in the dining halls.”
The difference between these SMART goal examples is that while the first makes some sense, second one is broken up into concrete steps that are more easily planned.
Like goals that are specific and measurable, goals that are action-oriented make it easier to hold your team accountable to the roles they’ve been given.
Solid SMART goal examples include goals that are attainable. Nobody is going to feel motivated to do work for the team if they think the goal is beyond your abilities.
Using some group brainstorming activities, you might uncover some pie-in-the-sky suggestions. This is fine for a brainstorming session, but you need to reel it in when you settle on your final goals. As the leader, one way you can ensure your goal is realistic is to ask the members of your student organization what they are capable of giving the team in terms of their time, energy, and commitment. This might cause you to revise down your initial goal. See these SMART goal examples:
“Collect 1,000 petition signatures from students in favor of serving locally grown produce in the cafeteria.”
This can become:
“Each member can collect at least 30 petition signatures from students in favor of serving locally grown produce in the cafeteria.”
Notice the new goal includes “at least.” Even though you’re being realistic, you should always encourage your teammates to go above the minimum. You can
Finally, you’ll notice something about the best SMART goal examples to go by. They take place in a specific timeframe. You can go with a deadline, or timed installments for particular actions—the choice is yours. The important thing is that you follow up on the deadlines you set. As a leader, you need to demonstrate to your team that you’re serious about the goals the organization has set for itself, and the easiest way to signal a lack of dedication is by neglecting the deadlines you set. On the flip side, enforcing a deadline is also one of the easiest to send the message that you’re serious about achieving the goal.
In the next two SMART goal examples, we’ve tied all the criteria together:
“Each of us will call 8 people a day for three days about the rugby match.”
“Each of us will gather 30 signatures a week for four weeks to petition for locally grown food in the cafeteria.”
Each of these SMART goal examples involves a specific target: increasing attendance at an upcoming match, or building support for serving locally grown food.
Each of these SMART goal examples is measurable: there are numbers attached to each one.
Each of these SMART goal examples is action-oriented: they prescribe specific tasks to the team members—making a phone call or gathering signatures.
Each of these SMART goal examples is realistic: there’s nothing too difficult about the numbers and the actions prescribed.
Each of these SMART goal examples is timed: there are concrete deadlines and benchmarks for progress. It’s therefore easier for you, the leader, to follow up on the headway your teammates are making.