How to Use SMART Goals to Change a Habit

You might find it easy to apply SMART goal principles to your life goals or other personal goals, like losing weight or getting better grades.

But what about changing habits – can SMART goal setting apply there, too?

In today’s class *puts on teacherly glasses* we’re going to turn a desired habit change into a SMART goal.

Speaking Up In Meetings

Let’s say Sally has plenty of good ideas but she keeps these to herself in meetings, and it’s holding her back, career-wise.

We’ll make a SMART goal of ‘speaking up in meetings’ for Sally. As we do each step, the goal will evolve.


‘Speaking up in meetings’ is vague. Let’s make it more precise:

I want to share good ideas or helpful comments in meetings.

✔ Now it’s specific – ‘good ideas’ and ‘helpful comments’, and only ‘in meetings’.


How will Sally know if she’s on track?

I will share at least one good idea or useful comment in each meeting (unless I really have nothing useful to add).

✔ Sally can measure ‘at least one’ during each meeting.


Is this something Sally can reasonably expect to do?

I will share at least one good idea or useful comment in each meeting.

✔ The goal is achievable for Sally – it’s only in meetings, which she can handle. If it were public speaking she might need more information or training before she could achieve the goal.


Does this really matter to Sally?

I will share at least one good idea or useful comment in each meeting.

✔ This goal is relevant for Sally, because she wants to get promoted and participating in meetings is an issue. Your goal has to be relevant – otherwise you may give up at the first challenge.


We need to put a clock or calendar on this:

I will share at least one good idea or useful comment in each meeting for the next 2 weeks.

✔ This is time-framed – Sally will do it for at least 2 weeks. Then she can review her progress and discuss it with her boss.

Do Your Own SMART Goal Setting

Using the SMART goal approach imposes an extra level of commitment to habit change. As this example shows, you won’t get away with vague or half-hearted promises.

Now isn’t that a smart way to tackle your habits?



This article was written by Michele, Get Organized Wizard, who is into writing, books, simplicity, love, TV, productivity, and staying thin in a world of chocolate.

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