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What does SMART stand for in goal planning?

What does SMART stand for in goal planning?

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is a great technique when starting the goal-setting process. But what does SMART stand for in goal planning? S.M.A.R.T. goals can be used to fit any focus areas- from fitness to finances to organization. S.M.A.R.T. goals are small, attainable achievements that are the smaller steps necessary to reach your bigger goals…what I like to call your Big D.U.M.B. goals. So what does S.M.A.R.T. stand for exactly? Keep reading to see! To download your S.M.A.R.T. goal planner, click here.

What does SMART stand for?
What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?

For me, I like to think of S.M.A.R.T. goals as Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. I’ve seen different words for those letters, but in my own goal-planning process, these seem to work the best. Let’s break those down a little bit further. 

S- Specific

If you were to state your S.M.A.R.T. goal in one, short sentence this would be it. Think of this as your mission statement. It is direct, clear, and not too vague about your end goal. A few examples of specific would be:

  • “I will run 1 mile without stopping.”
  • “I will declutter my master bedroom closet.”
  • “I will read 1 book.”
  • “I will pay off my car loan.”

These are all fantastic goals!!! But to be truly S.M.A.R.T., we need to add a few more variables.


This is how you know that you have accomplished your goal. For most of the examples above, it’s apparent how you would measure that specific goal. But let’s take the decluttering example, since it’s not as clear. Maybe the way you know you’ve reached that goal is when everything is off the floor. Or, maybe you know that you’ve decluttered your closet when you’ve gone through every item and decided whether to keep, donate, or sell that item. Find a method of measurement that works for you and apply it.


I have settled on “Actionable” for this part of the acronym because I think this word really brings the goal into the present moment. Are you able to start working towards this goal immediately, today? If not, then this is not the right goal for you. Do you have a medical or physical condition that makes it impossible to start this goal? Then you probably need to re-think your goals or have a plan to hire or ask for help. For example, if I have a broken leg, it would not be the time to set a goal of running a mile without stopping. Make sure that you are actually able to start working towards the goal in a practical way. If your goal is to start organizing and decluttering your home, and you are suffering from a medical illness, this is the perfect time to hire a professional organizer!


For the R, you may need to do a bit of a gut check. Is it realistic that I am going to win a gold medal for freestyle swimming in the next month? Hmmm… seeing as though I have never trained for freestyle swimming IN MY LIFE, this is probably not a realistic goal. So maybe a reality check needs to come into play. But, if my goal is to work out 5 days a week and I am already doing 4 days a week… this would seem to be more realistic. Based on my behavior in the past, I believe that I can accomplish this goal. If you are bumping into roadblocks with this part of your goal, you may need to get more specific or lessen the outcome of your original goal. If you’ve never run in your life, and historically you quit after 3 days of trying… maybe think about making smaller goals to start. Maybe you quit because your goals are too big. A better goal would be, “I’m going to walk for 5 minutes, 3 days a week.” or “I’m going to declutter one area in my house for 5 minutes every day for a week.” Start small, prove to yourself you can do it, and then make larger goals from there.

T- Timely

For this part of a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you are simply putting a time frame around your goal. If I say “I’m going to organize my junk drawer”… that might lead to me forgetting about it or not taking action as quickly as I could. If I say, “I’m going to organize my junk drawer by then end of the week,” then I have set a deadline for myself. Make sure your time makes sense for your goal and allows you to feel success throughout your journey. It’s really hard to stick with goals when the end goal is out in the distant future. Instead, make yourself achievable goals in shorter times. “I will run ¼ mile without stopping by the end of this week,” is more achievable than “I will run a whole mile without stopping by the end of the month.” 

So that’s what SMART stands for in goal planning. To read more about S.M.A.R.T. and D.U.M.B. goals for organization, check out my article here. If you would like to download my free Goal planner, click here to check it out. 

Also, check out my Instagram LIVE where I talk all about SMART and DUMB goals!

Thanks for reading, and Happy Organizing Y’all!

5 Responses

  1. Love your explanation of SMART goals and the words you chose to have the letters represent. It’s possible to get stuck at any step, but perhaps the one that can be the trickiest is the “R.” We aren’t always realistic with what we want to accomplish and what it will take to make it happen. So making some adjustments in that part of goal-setting can be a key to making progress.

    1. For sure! I know that I’ve made several goals where when I got to that R part I had to think long and hard about that goal, and then go back and re-assess. Thank you so much for your comment!

  2. I agree with Linda that that the R can be difficult. It’s hard to tell whether a goal is realistic; sometimes we need some accountability or partnership to crack down on scope-creep with our goals.

    And you’re right; while everyone seems to agree about the S, M, and T, the A and the R get different treatments. I tend to think of A as achievable (so, your realistic) and R as relevant (because sometimes we have great goals that won’t get us to our big-picture places. But your version is definitely clear and approachable; people will get a lot out of this!

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Jana Arevalo

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with some AMAZING military spouse businesses. When you make a purchase using my links you are supporting my small business and I am so grateful! Thank you!


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