Helping clients set and achieve actionable goals is a core responsibility for any life coach.

The SMART method is an excellent approach to setting achievable goals because it covers all bases and leaves no room for misunderstanding.

If you don’t already know, SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

By providing your clients with this checklists, you are enabling them to set goals that they will feel motivated to achieve.

It is an incredibly simple checklist that can be completed either together during a session, or by the client at home in their own time.

Write a vague description/idea of the goal

Before you think about how to make the goal a SMART one, write out the goal you have in mind. 

At this stage, it can be messy and ambiguous, though of course the clearer it is the better.


Make the goal quantifiable

Now then, let's begin to make the goal feel tangible. 

First thing is to specify the goal by making it quantifiable. Without specificity, the goal is a lot more like a wish than an actual goal.

In addition to making it quantifiable, you want to answer the following questions:

  • 1
    What do I want to accomplish?
  • 2
    Why is this goal important?
  • 3
    Who is involved?
  • 4
    Where is it located?
  • 5
    Which resources/limitations are involved?

Example: Imagine that you are currently a marketing executive, and you'd like to become head of marketing. A specific goal could be, "I want to gain the skills and experience necessary to become head of marketing within my organization so that I can build my career and lead a successful team."


Determine metric(s) to track progress

Your goal must be measurable so you can track progress, stay motivated, and recognize when you have achieved it. 

A measurable goal should address questions such as:

  • 1
    How much?
  • 2
    How many?
  • 3
    How will I know when it is accomplished?

Example: You might measure your goal of acquiring the skills to become head of marketing by determining that you will have completed the necessary training courses and gained the relevant experience within five years' time.


Ensure it is within the realm of realistic possibility

Setting a specific and measurable goal is all well and good, but if it's not realistic then its a waste of time, and will only lead to disappointment. 

Therefore you must make sure that the goal is actually attainable given your unique circumstances.

An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:

    • 1
      How can I accomplish this goal?
    • 2
      How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

    Example: You might need to ask yourself whether developing the skills required to become head of marketing is realistic, based on your existing experience and qualifications. For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively? Are the necessary resources available to you? Can you afford to do it?


    Determine how the goal is connected to something bigger

    This step is about ensuring that your goal really matters to you, and that it aligns with other relevant goals. 

    You should answer the following questions to ensure your goal is relevant:

    • 1
      Does pursuing the goal seem worthwhile?
    • 2
      Is it the right time?
    • 3
      Am I the right person to reach this goal?
    • 4
      How is this goal connected to other goals?

    Example: You might want to gain the skills to become head of marketing within your organization, but is it the right time to undertake the required training, or work toward additional qualifications? Are you sure that you're the right person for the head of marketing role? Have you considered your spouse's goals? For example, if you want to start a family, would completing training in your free time make this more difficult?


    Set a deadline

    The final piece of the SMART jigsaw – making the goal time-bound.

    The reason why your goal should be time-bound is relatively self-explanatory, because every goal needs a target date; a deadline to work towards.

    In order to make your goal time-bound you should answer the following questions:

    • 1
      When is the final deadline to achieving this goal?
    • 2
      What can I do six months from now?
    • 3
      What can I do six weeks from now?
    • 4
      What can I do today?

    Example: Gaining the skills to become head of marketing may require additional training or experience, as we mentioned earlier. How long will it take you to acquire these skills? Do you need further training, so that you're eligible for certain exams or qualifications? It's important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.

    Final steps:

    Review the goal with your coach

    In this section, you'll review the below information with your coach. 

    Once discussed, the coach will then approve or reject what you've written in the next task - task #15. Make sure the coach is assigned to the task via task assignments.

    How is the goal specific:


    How is the goal measurable:


    How is the goal attainable:


    How is the goal relevant:


    How is the goal time-bound:


    Approval: Coach's post-review approval

    Will be submitted for approval:
    • Make the goal quantifiable
      Will be submitted
    • Determine metric(s) to track progress
      Will be submitted
    • Ensure it is within the realm of realistic possibility
      Will be submitted
    • Determine how the goal is connected to something bigger
      Will be submitted
    • Set a deadline
      Will be submitted


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