How to use a SMART goals template for effective goal setting


May 17, 2024

Whether you’re an individual contributor, a team leader, or an HR executive, setting targeted goals is crucial for your professional growth, effective performance management, and positive business outcomes. You may have heard about the “SMART goals” framework, but maybe you’re not sure exactly how to implement it. In this post, we’ll guide you through what SMART goals are, share a SMART goals template, and explore some real-world examples to inspire your own goal-setting.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Each component helps you craft a goal that is both effective and achievable while helping you steer clear of vague ambitions that may not serve you or your team.


A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal, you must answer the six "W" questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why. This specificity narrows down the focus, making the goal more tangible.


A measurable goal allows for tracking progress and reaching tangible achievements. Once you set a goal, you should be able to answer questions like: “How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?” Establishing concrete criteria for measuring progress helps you stay on track and reach your target outcomes.


Goals should be realistic and attainable. While it’s important to set goals that challenge you, they should still be achievable. Consider which resources or skills are needed and set a realistic plan.


Relevance refers to selecting goals that matter. A goal should align with broader objectives, such as the overall goals of the business. It’s essential to ensure that the goal holds importance for the business and is not pursued for the sake of setting a goal.


Every goal needs a deadline. Time constraints create urgency and prompt action. Determine a specific time frame for accomplishing the goal and ideally set up milestones along the way to keep you on track.

SMART goals template

Many people are familiar with the SMART goals framework but have trouble implementing it. SMART goals templates provide a clear path to implementation. They can also aid in getting buy-in from your whole team by providing transparency into the goal-setting process. 

Here’s a useful SMART goals template you can copy and use yourself:


Use the questions below as prompts for creating your SMART goal

Your answer

Write the answer to each question below.

Follow up

Use this section to reflect on the success or possible improvements you can make.

S: What is your SMART goal?

Identify your overall goal, make it as clear and specific as possible.

M: What is your metric for success?

Define what success looks like with quantifiable metrics.

A: Do you feel this goal is attainable in the allotted time?

Reflect on the feasibility of the goal considering available time and resources.

R: Why is this goal relevant?

Ensure the goal aligns with broader objectives and why it’s significant right now.

T: What is your timeline for completing this goal?

Set a clear deadline to focus your efforts and keep the goal top of mind. Add milestones if applicable.

SMART goal examples

To make the concept more concrete, we’ve included five SMART goal examples across various contexts here:

  1. Increase sales: Increase the sales of X product by 15% in the next quarter by introducing an additional sales channel.
  2. Improve skills: Complete an advanced Python programming course by the end of the year to enhance coding skills.
  3. Improve process: Create a new process to increase social media posts from three per week to 10 per week by the end of the quarter.
  4. Increase productivity Goal: Decrease monthly operational costs by 10% within six months by optimizing supply chain processes.
  5. Improve learning: Read 12 new books in the fields of marketing and management by the end of the year to enhance professional knowledge.

SMART goals software

For businesses, tying individual SMART goals to overarching business objectives can be challenging, particularly if you’re using more than one system to manage everything. Software like Rippling helps streamline this process by connecting all your data, including goals and milestone reviews, across all your systems. This means that all your data is in one place and silos are gone.

With Rippling, not only can you track your goals across teams, but you can also connect those goals to performance reviews, 360 reviews, pulse surveys, and more. This ensures there’s alignment between each individual contributor and the overall business objectives you’re going after.

Start Using SMART Goals

SMART goals are an indispensable tool for maximizing the effectiveness of your team. They provide clarity, focus, and a measurable path to achieving both your objectives as well as the wider team’s. Use the SMART goals template above to help you organize your goals, and, if you’re working on a team, get a demo of Rippling to see how you can make goal setting easier for your organization. 

last edited: May 17, 2024

The Author

Bogdan Zlatkov

Senior Content Marketing Manager, HR

Bogdan is a content marketer with over 8 years of B2B experience writing for some of the most innovative brands in tech.