SMART Goal Setting: Short-Term and Long-Term Planning

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SMART Goal Setting
SMART Goal Setting (Photo by Hope House Press – Leather Diary Studio on Unsplash) created using Visme

As Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” It is high time to prepare for the next year. SMART goal setting is one of the ways to do this. Creating motivating goals to achieve within the specific period can be an effective method for short-term and long-term planning. However, the question is whether it suits anyone or not.

What Is SMART Goal Setting?

Generally, most studies decipher SMART goals as follows:

  • specific,
  • measurable,
  • achievable,
  • realistic,
  • timely (Chan et al., 2018).

However, it is possible to find simple for S, motivating for M, actionable for A, reasonable for R, and trackable for T.

SMART vs. Open and Do-Your-Best Goals

Despite all these variations, SMART goals give a specific direction in which to move to be in the planned place and at the planned time.

On the other hand, according to the research by Chan et al. (2018), SMART goals appear to be less challenging. It means that achieving them puts less preasure.

Nevertheless, such goals make it easier to develop a habit if they are realistic and achievable rather than challenging and burdensome. In contrast, trying to achieve do-your-best (DYB) goals can lead to burnout in the long-term. The reason is constant pressure of exerting as much effort as possible.

A good alternative is open goals where you see how much or how well you can do.

How to Use SMART Goals for Long-Term and Short-Term Planning

Here are several useful advices how to use SMART goals for planning. First of all, start with planning by setting the lowest limit you can achieve without exerting much effort. Then, move further by increasing the limit you can do.

For example, instead of aiming to write 250 blog posts this year, you can set the goal of 1 or 2 posts per month. It is measurable, specific, and more realistic than 250. Besides, it can help you make writing your habit. If it becomes easy to cope with 12-24 posts per year, change the goal to write more.

Develop a long-term goal first before writing down short-term objectives. It can be what you want to achieve in several years. For example, increase the number of blog visitors twice in 2 years. It is specific, measurable (an increase in the number of visitors twice), achievable and realistic (as long as you set realistic SMART short-term objectives to do this), and time-bound (within 2 years).

Then, make up short-term objectives to achieve this goal. For example:

  • Writing 8 posts this month,
  • Organizing one monthly marketing campaign,
  • Finding 10 images for posts this week,
  • Making 5 Pinterest templates, etc.

If you are unsure what is the amount of tasks with which you can cope well within the specific time, you can first try to set an open-ended goal. See how much work you can easily do within a month, week, or day. Then use this information for SMART goals. It will help you be realistic.


Use a journal to create a list of SMART goals (both sort-term and long-term) for the year to come. Write down goals for different life spheres:

  • financial,
  • work projects,
  • work-out and health activities,
  • family and trips, etc.

Such goals are a visualization technique for the next year and a method of preparation, being “the key to success,” as stated at the beginning.

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Chan, M. Y., Swann, C., & Donnelly, J. F. (2018). Are S.M.A.R.T goals really smart? The psychological effects of goal-setting in a learning task. Frontiers in Psychology, 9.

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