Types of Goals


SMART Goals Should be:

  • S: Goals should be Specific
  • M: Goals should be Measurable
  • A: Goals should be Action-oriented
  • R: Goals should be Realistic
  • T: Goals should be Time-bound

Example SMART goal: I will walk my dog around the neighborhood for 30 minutes 4 times this week.

How is this goal SMART?

  • S: Walk my dog around the neighborhood
  • M: 30 minutes 4 times this week
  • A: I will walk
  • R: If you haven’t been walking at all, this might not be a realistic goal; 30 minutes may be too long, or 4 times per week may be too much. Consider your current activity when setting realistic goals.
  • T: This week

When setting SMART goals, you want to keep in mind your overall long-term goal, short-term goals that contribute to your progress towards your long-term goal, and enabling goals that keep you on track on a daily basis.

The following outlines the process of goal-setting through these three types of goals:


Represent the overall outcome you wish to accomplish by participating in regular physical activity.

  • Example Long-term goal: In 6 months I will run for 30 minutes 3 times per week.
  • When developing your long-term goal, think about your reasons for wanting to achieve that goal.
  • If you find yourself saying, “I should run 3 times per week because I am carrying too much extra weight,” your goals may be extrinsically motivated and reflect dissatisfaction with your body shape (Segar, Spruijt-Metz, & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2006). Such goals may lead to negative feelings towards physical activity and only short-term participation in physical activity.
  • Instead choose goals that make you say, “It feels good to be moving,” or “I’m doing something good for my body and mind.” These goals may lead to more enjoyment and long-term maintenance of physical activity (Segar et al., 2008).


Represent the steps you will take to achieve the long-term goal.

  • Example Short-term goal: I will walk for 30 minutes 3 times per week for the next 4 weeks. I will reevaluate my goal weekly to identify necessary modifications and progressions.
  • Like long-term goals, short-term goals should reflect your reasons for participating in physical activity and should give you a sense of enjoyment and freedom.


These are the little goals that can be done daily or weekly to help reach your short-term and long-term goals.

These are little things that can keep your mind on the right track so you don’t lose sight of your goal.

  • Example Enabling goal: I will take 5 minutes each evening to make sure my exercise bag is packed with my walking shoes, socks and clean water bottle.
  • Enabling goals should be made and evaluated daily. Adding your enabling goals to your daily to-do lists will help increase the changes you achieve at all levels.

Next step

Now it’s your turn, Set Your Goals.