Skip to Main Content
Ask CWU Libraries
CWU Libraries Home

Organization Tips and Strategies

This research guide accompanies the library's Research Smartz workshop about organization.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

What is a S.M.A.R.T. goal?

Why not think of a small goal you want to set right now, personal or professional. To make your goal S.M.A.R.T., it needs to conform to the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely.

What is SMART goal setting?

SMART goal setting brings structure and traceability into your goals and objectives. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting creates verifiable trajectories towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal's attainability. Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.

With the SMART checklist, you can evaluate your objectives. SMART goal setting also creates transparency throughout the company. It clarifies the way goals came into existence, and the criteria their realization will conform to.


What exactly do you want to achieve? The more specific your description, the easier it will be to accomplish. A SMART goal is the difference between the goal of, "study for my Chemistry class" and "study inorganic structures in chapter 5 using flashcards and redrawing."

Questions you may ask yourself when setting your goals and objectives are:

  • What exactly do I want to achieve?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • When?
  • With whom?
  • What are the conditions and limitations?
  • Why exactly do I want to reach this goal? What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same?


Measurable goals means that you identify exactly what it is you will see, hear, and feel when you reach your goal. It means breaking your goal down into measurable elements. You'll need concrete evidence. Being healthy is good aim, but isn't easily measurable; quitting smoking and adhering to a healthy lifestyle where you eat vegetables twice a day and meat only once a week, is. Measurable goals can go a long way in refining what exactly it is that you want. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and easier to reach.


Is your goal achievable? That means investigating whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against the profits and the other obligations and priorities you have in life.

If you don't have the time or motivation to reach a certain goal you'll probably fail. That doesn't mean that you can't take something that seems impossible and make it happen by planning smartly and going for it!


Is reaching your goal relevant to you? Do you want to do well in your classes, stay more physically active, or spend time with your friend(s).  The main question is: why do you want to reach this goal? What is the objective behind the goal, and will this goal really achieve that?


Make a tentative plan of everything you do. Everybody knows that deadlines are what makes most people switch to action. So install deadlines. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can stay positive about achieving them. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the reverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives into a difficult race against time, which is not how you want to achieve anything.

How To Set Goals

S.M.A.R.T. Goals Template 

Crafting S.M.A.R.T. Goals are designed to help you identify if what you want to achieve is realistic and determine a deadline. When writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals use concise language, but include relevant information. These are designed to help you succeed, so be positive when answering the questions.  


Initial Goal (Write the goal you have in mind):  


  1. Specific (What do you want to accomplish? Who needs to be included? When do you want to do this? Why is this a goal?)
  2. Measurable (How can you measure progress and know if you’ve successfully met your goal?):
  3. Achievable (Do you have the skills required to achieve the goal? If not, can you obtain them? What is the motivation for this goal? Is the amount of effort required on par with what the goal will achieve?)
  4. Relevant (Why am I setting this goal now? Is it aligned with overall objectives?):
  5. Time-bound (What’s the deadline and is it realistic?):

S.M.A.R.T. Goal (Review what you have written, and craft a new goal statement based on what the answers to the questions above have revealed):