Last year you may have set SMART goals. But this year, let’s get SMARTER!

Our calendar often serves as a reminder for reflection and planning. When starting off the new year one of the best ways to enjoy life and continue doing the things you want to do is to set goals. Whether you endeavour to learn something new or continue healthy lifestyle habits, the recipe for success is to ensure you set SMARTER goals.

SMARTER stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based, evaluated and reviewed. It’s easy to say your goal is to be an Olympian and compete in Brisbane in 2032, but there are many steps (and goals) along the way that must be met. If you haven’t considered whether this dream is realistic and truly important to you it will be impossible to achieve. Everyone will benefit from setting SMARTER goals.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes a SMARTER goal smarter.

SMARTER goals are:


What exactly do you want to achieve? It should be succinct.


How will you track your progress and be sure that you have achieved your goal?


Is this something you have the tools and ability to work towards right now? Will it be challenging but possible and action orientated?


Is the goal relevant and important to you? Be honest with yourself, you know what you are capable of. Is it too hard or too easy?

Time based

How long do you need to work towards this goal (i.e., one week, one month, one year?), and when will you assess your progress or achievement?


It is important to evaluate and reflect on your progress or achievement. What has gone well, what has been challenging and what are the next steps you need to take?


Does your goal need to be amended or do you need a longer time frame to achieve it? If you have achieved this goal, what would you like to achieve next? E.g. What is the next step to achieving your long-term goal? This could include sustaining the positive change/s you have made.

Steps to setting a SMARTER goal

  • Write down what you want to achieve.
  • Use the SMARTER acronym to refine and reword this goal. Shape it into something that is important and achievable for you.
  • Write down your SMARTER goal somewhere you can find it later.
  • Mark in your calendar the day you are going to evaluate and review your SMARTER goal.

Helpful hints

Sometimes we have large goals that will take months or even years to achieve. This is great! To ensure you stay on track it is important to break it down and outline smaller goals and timeframes to ensure steady and sustainable progress. No one becomes an Olympian overnight.

You may have multiple SMARTER goals that address various domains of your life. Writing them down and re-evaluating them is the best way to track and celebrate your progress. Sharing you goal with someone is also a great way to gain support and further evaluate whether the goal is specific, achievable and realistic for you right now.

Goals are personal and might change. What is realistic and achievable for you today may not be in five weeks’ time. That’s why SMART-ER goals are so important. As you progress or your goals and what’s important to you changes, the original goal must be reviewed and updated. Success is journey, it’s all about looking forward and realign the goal to be SMARTER.

Think about what is important to you right now and have a go at creating a SMARTER goal. Some food for thought of things you may want to achieve: being able to take your grandchildren to the local park, join a local walking group, learn to dance, improve daily hydration, walk the dog twice a day, independently catch a bus to an appointment, make healthy food choices, complete the Bridge to Brisbane 10km, re-connect with friends.

What’s your SMARTER goal? Why not share it with your UQ Healthy Living clinician?


Written by Dr Shari O’Brien, exercise physiologist at UQ Healthy Living.

Dr Shari O'Brien, Exercise Physiologist

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