The best way to set short-term goals that you are most likely to achieve is to use the SMART framework.
The SMART framework demonstrates how to set goals that are actionable, achievable, and time-bound. Here is what the acronym stands for:
- Specific: A specific goal clearly describes what you want to achieve, detailing exactly where you want to end up.
- Measurable: A measurable goal means you have a way to gauge your progress and know definitively when the goal has been reached.
- Achievable: An achievable goal is realistic and attainable, meaning it’s within your capabilities and resources.
- Relevant: A relevant goal aligns with your broader objectives and ambitions, connecting directly to what you want to accomplish in the intermediate and long term.
- Time-bound: A time-bound goal has a defined timeline, which sets a concrete end-point to aim for and prevents the task from continuing indefinitely.
Below, I’ve outlined 101 examples of SMART short-term goals, each following the framework to make it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Short-Term Goals Examples
1. Learn Basic Italian
Commit to studying Italian for at least 15 minutes each day, with the aim of having basic conversational fluency within six months.
2. Read More
Choose 1 book and read five pages per day for the next five days, with the goal of turning this into a longer-term goal. I will track progress and reflect on reading outcomes each week.
3. Increase Physical Activity
Sign up for a gym membership and attend for 30 minutes, three times this week. Longer, term I hope I will be able to improve my overall fitness if I can keep this up week on week (measured by a health check at the start and end of the six-month period).
4. Create a Budget
Detail an easy-to-follow budget plan, designating a percentage of income to essential, savings, and disposable funds, within one month.
5. Enhance Professional Skills
Register for an online course related to your job field and complete it within four months, aiming to apply the knowledge gained directly in the workplace.
6. Improve Nutrition
Consult with a nutritionist to develop a balanced meal plan, with the aim of sustaining the adopted meal plan for at least three months and monitoring changes in energy levels.
7. Develop a New Hobby
Choose a hobby, acquire necessary equipment, and dedicate at least an hour a week. The goal is proficiency and enjoyment within the next six months.
8. Sleep Better
Set a nightly schedule, aiming to acquire seven to eight hours per night consistently for three months, monitoring improvements in mood and energy levels.
9. Start Blogging
Research and decide on a blog topic, create a blogging schedule, and post at least once a week for four months, aiming for a 10% increase in followers each month.
Go Deeper: SMART Goals for Students
10. Reduce Screen Time
Monitor daily screen time and aim to reduce it by 15% within two months, replacing screen time with healthier activities, measuring improvements in the sleep cycle.
11. Learn Basic Coding
Enroll in a basic coding course and complete it within 2 months, aiming to be able to create a simple website by course completion.
12. Volunteer Regularly
Research local volunteering opportunities and dedicate at least two hours per week for a year practicing active community involvement.
13. Plan a Solo Trip
Choose a destination, book a trip within your budget, and travel solo for at least a week for the purpose of self-discovery and resilience building over the next six months.
14. Learn to Cook a Multi-course Meal
Enroll in a culinary course with the aim of being able to prepare a three-course meal and host a dinner party by the end of three months.
15. Communicate More Effectively: Practice active listening, affirming feedback, and clear requests with friends and family in daily conversations to improve communication skills, evaluated through self-reflection every two weeks.
16. Reduce Clutter
Set a weekly goal to organize a different area of your house for the next eight weeks, aiming to significantly reduce clutter and increase tidiness.
17. Practice Mindfulness
Commit to a daily 10-minute mindfulness meditation for three months, documenting changes in stress level, focus, and general wellbeing.
18. Run a 5K
Follow a beginner’s running plan, with the aim of completing a 5K race within four months.
19. Write a Song
Compose lyrics and a melody for an original song, aiming to record the final composition within a three-month period.
20. Improve Photography Skills
Enroll in a photography course, practice daily, and create a portfolio of 30 unique shots (representing different techniques) within three months.
Go Deeper: Performance Goals Examples
21. Start Cycling
Buy a bike and commit to cycling for 30 minutes, three times per week, aiming to cycle a distance of 25km in one go within six months.
22. Improve Public Speaking
Join a local Toastmasters club, attend meetings regularly, and aim to deliver five speeches within the year.
23. Go Zero-waste for a Month
Research on ways to minimize waste production, and commit to a zero waste lifestyle for one month, aiming for a 50% reduction in household waste.
24. Learn to Sew
Buy a sewing machine, learn different sewing techniques (straight stitch, backstitch, etc.) through an online course, and create a simple piece of clothing in eight weeks.
25. Learn to Dance
Sign up for dance classes (salsa, hip hop, contemporary, etc.) and attend on a weekly basis, aiming to perform an entire dance routine with confidence at the end of three months.
26. Learn Graphic Design
Enroll in an online Graphic Design course and dedicate at least two hours a week to it, with the aim to design an original poster or logo after three months.
27. Master a Chess Strategy
Play online chess games regularly, using one particular strategy, with the aim of winning at least 60% of your games by the end of the month.
28. Reduce Carbon Footprint
Implement eco-friendly practices such as carpooling and composting, aiming to reduce your personal carbon footprint by 20% in a year.
29. Become a Plant Owner
Purchase and care for a houseplant, maintaining it healthy and thriving for at least six months, noting changes in your quality of life.
30. Read a Classic Novel
Choose and read a classic novel you’ve never read before, within a one month period, reflecting on themes and your response to the book.
31. Learn a Magic Trick
Select a magic trick, practice it regularly with the aim of being able to perform it flawlessly at a party or gathering within three months.
32. Harvest Your Own Vegetables
Start a small vegetable garden, tend to it daily with the goal of harvesting and consuming your own produce within a 5 months time.
33. Increase Typing Speed
Engage in daily typing exercises with the aim of increasing your speed by 15% within a two-month timeframe.
34. Master Basics of a Musical Instrument
Pick a musical instrument, take lessons and practice daily, aiming to play a simple song on the instrument within four months.
35. Improve Posture
Perform exercises and daily check-ins for improving posture, aiming for noticeable change in posture and reduction in back pain after two months.
36. Write a Short Story
Develop a story outline, write regularly, with the goal to complete a well-written short story for possible publication within two months.
37. Maintain a Gratitude Journal
Daily note down five things you’re grateful for, aiming to cultivate a more positive outlook and improved mental health within six months.
38. Learn Calligraphy
Take a calligraphy course, practice daily, with the goal of creating a beautiful handwritten letter or artwork piece within two months.
39. Volunteer Weekly
Find a local charity or organization to volunteer with weekly, aiming to contribute meaningfully to a cause within a six-month period.
40. Establish a Morning Routine
Develop and stick to a beneficial morning routine, aiming to have a more structured, productive start to the day for a continuous three-month period.
41. Reduce Use of Single-use Plastics
Switch to eco-friendly alternatives, aiming to reduce personal use of single-use plastics by 80% within a three month period.
42. Improve Emotional Intelligence
Pursue personal and online resources to heighten understanding of emotional intelligence, with the objective of practicing these principles in daily interactions for the next four months.
43. Write a Poem
Set a goal to write one poem a week for the next three months, gradually improving your creative writing skills and producing at least twelve original poems.
44. Learn to Knit
Purchase a knitting starter kit and practice regularly, aiming to knit a scarf or hat within two months.
45. Increase Water Intake
Monitor your daily water intake, aiming to consistently achieve the recommended eight 8-ounce glasses per day over the next two months.
46. Build a Treehouse
Formulate a design and construction plan for a treehouse, aiming to complete the project within three months and enjoy a new outdoor space.
47. Reduce procrastinationImplement time-management strategies, aiming to cut procrastination time in half through structured work periods and breaks over a one-month period.
48. Commence a Book Club
Select a book, invite friends or coworkers, and host a monthly book club for six months, aiming to enrich reading experiences through discussion.
49. Master a Yoga Pose
Choose a yoga pose to practice daily, aiming to execute the pose perfectly by the end of two months.
50. Train Your Dog a New Trick
Choose a trick appropriate for your dog’s level, and train them daily, intending to have them perform the trick consistently within one month.
51. Learn Basic First Aid
Enroll in a First Aid certification course and aim to successfully pass the course and obtain certification within three months.
52. Enhance Vocabulary
Learn a new word each day for a year, and incorporate it into your conversation or writing, aiming to enhance your vocabulary and communication skills.
53. Conduct a Weekly Random Act of Kindness
Perform a random act of kindness each week for the next six months, intending to impact positively on others and foster personal generosity.
54. Start a Podcast
Choose a topic of interest, plan and record bi-weekly podcast episodes, aiming for a consistent listener base within six months.
55. Troubleshoot a Car Problem
Learn about basic car maintenance and repair, with the goal of independently solving a minor car issue within three months.
56. Plant a Tree
Identify a suitable location and species, plant a tree, and tend to its needs with the goal of having a healthy, growing tree after a year.
57. Improve Listening Skills
Utilize active listening techniques in daily interactions with the aim of cultivating better understanding and connection within two months.
58. Manage Stress
Incorporate relaxation techniques into your routine with the objective of reducing perceived stress levels over a three-month timeframe.
59. Master a New Software
Choose software relevant to your field, study it in-depth, and aim to apply the new skills in a project by the end of two months.
60. Build a Furniture Piece
Choose a simple furniture piece to build, acquire necessary tools, and complete the piece within two months, providing practical, hands-on experience.
61. Cultivate Patience
Practice mindfulness and response management in scenarios that usually trigger irritability, aiming to demonstrate increased patience over three months.
62. Start Composting
Set up a home compost system and compost all biodegradable waste, with the aim of reducing household waste and enhancing garden soil within six months.
63. Enhance Interpersonal SkillsAttend a workshop or course on interpersonal skills, applying learning regularly with friends and colleagues, aiming for noticeable improvements in relationships over three months.
64. Adopt a Pet
Research, prepare for, and adopt a pet, providing it with a loving home and noting changes to your happiness and daily routine.
65. Swap Coffee for Green Tea
Transition from daily coffee to green tea over a period of two months, monitoring changes to energy levels and overall health.
66. Negotiate Successfully
Learn and practice negotiation skills with the aim of successfully using these skills in a real-world scenario within six months.
67. Explore Your Family History
Research and document your family history with the goal of creating a comprehensive family tree by the end of the year.
68. Learn Sign Language
Enroll in an online sign language course and practice regularly, aiming to comfortably communicate in sign language by the completion of the year.
69. Reduce Consumption of Processed Foods
Transition to a diet containing less than 15% processed foods over six months, documenting changes to health and well-being.
70. Improve SEO Skills
Complete an SEO training course with the aim of increasing website traffic by 20% within three months following course completion.
71. Conquer a Fear
Identify a personal fear, expose gradually and manage responses to it with the aim of significantly reducing its impact on your life within six months.
72. Learn to Juggle
Practice daily with the aim to juggle three balls for at least two minutes without dropping them within a month.
73. Explore a New City
Plan and embark on a trip to a city you’ve never visited before, aiming to learn about new cultures and expand your horizons within six months.
74. Create a Piece of Art
Attend an art class or workshop, practice skills, and aim to complete a finished piece of art that you’re proud of within two months.
75. Learn to Whistle
Practice daily with the goal of being able to whistle a simple tune within a month.
76. Meditate Daily
Begin a daily meditation practice, start with 5 minutes a day and aim to meditate for 20 minutes daily by the end of two months.
77. Build a SandcastlePlan a beach visit, research methods, and attempt to build a large and detailed sandcastle within a day.
78. Maintain a Plant-Based Diet
Transition to a plant-based diet over a three-month period, documenting feelings of health and energy levels.
79. Learn Basic Origami
Acquire an origami tutorial book or course, practice regularly, aiming to successfully create 10 different origami shapes within two months.
80. Do a Handstand
Learn and practice the required techniques aiming to hold a handstand for at least 10 seconds within a months’ time period.
81. Set Up a Successful Aquarium
Research, purchase, and maintain an aquarium with a goal of a healthy, thriving aquatic environment by the end of three months.
82. Learn to Change a Tire
Obtain the necessary tools and knowledge, and practice changing a car tire with the goal of being able to change a flat independently within one month.
83. Bake Sourdough Bread
Learn the process of sourdough baking, start a starter, and aim to bake a successful loaf of sourdough bread within two months.
84. Write in Cursive
Practice cursive letters daily with the goal of being able to write a letter in elegant, legible cursive within a month.
85. Start a DIY Project
Choose a meaningful DIY project, collect materials, and complete the project within a two-month timeframe.
86. Reduce Social Media Use
Monitor your daily usage and aim to reduce it by 30% over a three-month period, noting improvements in productivity and mental health.
87. Learn to Swim
Enroll in swimming lessons and aim to be able to swim at least 500m nonstop within three months.
88. Reduce Sugar Intake
Monitor your daily sugar intake and aim to reduce it by 50% within two months, noting improvements in energy, mood, and overall health.
89. Join a Local ClubResearch clubs in your local area, join one of interest, and aim to attend regularly for six months, increasing your social interactions.
90. Practice Portraiture
Devote time each week to sketch or paint human faces, aiming to noticeably improve your portraiture skills within three months.
91. Learn Pottery
Take a pottery class and aim to create a set of utensils (e.g., mug, bowl, plate) that you can use in your home by the end of three months.
92. Upgrade Tech Skills
Identify an area of tech you’re unfamiliar with and dedicate time to learning it, with the aim to use this new tech skill in a real world scenario within three months.
93. Learn to Rock Climb
Take a rock climbing course and aim to successfully climb a moderate-rated outdoor route within six months.
94. Practice Conflict Resolution
Apply conflict resolution techniques in everyday life, aiming to resolve disputes in a satisfactory manner and improve relationships over four months.
95. Compose a Song
Learn the basics of music composition and aim to write and record a song within six months.
96. Cultivate Indoor Herb Garden
Plant and maintain an indoor herb garden, aiming to use your own herbs in cooking within two months.
97. Create a Documentary
Choose an interesting topic, conduct in-depth research, film and edit a 15-minute documentary within six months.
98. Plant a Butterfly Garden
Research suitable plants, design, and plant a garden to attract butterflies within two months, monitoring the number of butterflies over the following season.
99. Brush up on Geography
Devote time each week to learning world geography, aiming to correctly identify all countries on a world map by the end of three months.
100. Assist the Elderly
Find a program where you can use your skills to assist the elderly, aiming to provide support at least once a week for six months.
101. Restyle Your Wardrobe
Over a period of two months, critically assess your wardrobe, phase out items that no longer suit your style, and gradually buy new items that reflect your desired wardrobe style.
Your Short-Term Goals should Help you achieve Longer-Term Goals. See:
Setting short-term goals is essential to long-term success. A short-term goal should be a stepping-stone toward your longer-term success. If you can ensure that the short-term goal is linked to your longer-term ambitions, you’ll be on the path to success.
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]