March 6, 2024 - 17 min read

The Most Effective SMART Goals for Decision Making

SMART Goals for Decision Making.
Nicolas Moore
Nicolas Moore Growth Mindset Expert

Decision-making is a life skill. Whether it’s picking an outfit for the day or making major career moves, the choices we make shape our experiences. But sometimes, even little decisions can feel overwhelming. That’s where SMART goals come in!

SMART goals offer a framework for taking the guesswork out of your decision-making. They provide clarity, focus, and a roadmap for achieving results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Improved Clarity: SMART goals help you define exactly what you want to achieve.
  • Focused Decision-Making: No more wandering in circles – SMART goals give you clear direction.
  • Increased Confidence: With a plan of action, you’ll feel more empowered to make those tough choices.

Ready to transform your SMART goals for decision making? Let’s dive in!

Importance of SMART Goals for Decision Making

Making effective decisions requires a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. It’s hard to hit a target you can’t see! SMART goals provide a laser-sharp focus, defining your desired outcome with precision.

Decision making SMART goals

They take vague aspirations and transform them into concrete, actionable steps, increasing the chances of successfully reaching your desired goal.

Why SMART Goals Matter for Decision-Making

Making effective decisions requires a clear understanding of what you want to achieve. It’s hard to hit a target you can’t see!

Vague aspirations like “get healthier” or “improve my finances” leave too much room for interpretation and ultimately lead to confusion and inaction.

SMART goals, on the other hand, provide a laser-sharp focus, defining your desired outcome with precision. They take those fuzzy wishes and transform them into concrete, actionable steps. Here’s how:

  • Specificity: SMART goals clearly define what you want to achieve. Instead of “get healthier”, a SMART goal might be “run a 5K race within 6 months”.
  • Measurability: With SMART goals, you can track your progress. This allows you to celebrate milestones and adjust your approach if needed.
  • Attainability: While you want to challenge yourself, SMART goals should be achievable within your resources and abilities. This keeps you motivated and prevents discouragement.

"Your life is the fruit of your own doing. You have no one to blame but yourself."

Decision-making goals Joseph Campbell

By incorporating these elements, SMART goals provide a roadmap for achieving your desired outcome. This clarity in decision-making leads to increased efficiency, better results, and a greater sense of accomplishment.

20 SMART Goals to Improve Decision Making

Now that you understand why SMART goals are so powerful for decision-making, let’s get practical!

Below are 20 examples to inspire you. These goals cover various aspects of life, from personal development to career choices to everyday decisions.

Important Note: Don’t feel pressured to tackle all 20 goals at once! Start by selecting a few that resonate most with you, then gradually add more as you build your decision-making muscle.

Let’s get started!

1. Set Financial Goals

Creating a sense of financial stability empowers you to make more grounded and confident decisions. This goal helps you establish a budget and set specific, trackable savings targets for your peace of mind.

  • Specific: Automate a $50 transfer to a savings account each week.
  • Measurable: Aim to build an emergency fund of $1000 within 6 months.
  • Achievable: Start with a smaller bi-weekly transfer and gradually increase the amount.
  • Relevant: Enhances financial security for unexpected expenses.
  • Time-bound: Set a specific deadline for reaching your savings goal.

2. Prioritize Self-Care

Mental clarity and focus are key ingredients for sound choices. This goal helps you carve out essential “me-time” to manage stress, improve emotional regulation, and boost your overall well-being.

  • Specific: Schedule three 30-minute blocks for self-care activities each week. Choose activities that promote relaxation and stress relief.
  • Measurable: Track your self-care activities using a journal or app. Notice shifts in your mood and energy levels throughout the week.
  • Achievable: Start with shorter blocks of time if needed. Pick activities you genuinely enjoy and look forward to.
  • Relevant: Improved emotional regulation and well-being directly support clearer decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Maintain this practice for a month to experience noticeable benefits.

"The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude."

Decision-making smart goals Oprah Winfrey

3. Break Down Big Decisions

Overwhelm can paralyze decision-making. This goal is about tackling those big choices in smaller, more manageable chunks. It’s about simplifying the complex and achieving your goals step by step.

  • Specific: Identify a major decision you’re facing. Break it down into at least 4 smaller, actionable steps.
  • Measurable: Complete each identified step by its assigned deadline.
  • Achievable: The initial step should be something you can realistically accomplish within a week.
  • Relevant: Simplifies the decision and reduces overwhelm, promoting focused action.
  • Time-bound: Aim to break down the decision and create a timeline for the steps within the next three days.

4. Gather Information Before Reacting

Sometimes, our best decisions come from a place of calm, not reactivity. This goal focuses on developing the skill of pausing before reacting, allowing you to make more informed and rational choices.

  • Specific: When faced with a triggering situation, commit to taking a 5-minute pause before reacting. Use this time for deep breaths or a short walk to calm yourself.
  • Measurable: Track the number of times you successfully implement this pause in a week.
  • Achievable: Aim to successfully pause at least twice a week to start.
  • Relevant: Reduces impulsive responses, promotes rational decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Commit to this practice for a month, gradually increasing the pause time if successful.

5. Learn a New Skill

Investing in your skills expands your opportunities and horizons. This goal encourages you to identify a relevant skill, sign up for a course, and embark on a learning journey that will open new doors for decision-making.

  • Specific: Within two weeks, research and identify a skill relevant to your career goals or a personal passion. Enroll in an introductory online course on that skill.
  • Measurable: Schedule dedicated time for coursework and aim to complete at least one module per week.
  • Achievable: Choose a course that aligns with your current knowledge level and time constraints.
  • Relevant: Boosts confidence, adds to your skillset, unlocks new possibilities for decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Commit to a specific course completion date or timeline.
Decision-making objectives

6. Practice Active Listening

Effective communication is crucial in decision-making, especially when others are involved. This goal helps you hone your listening skills to better understand different perspectives and gather valuable information.

  • Specific: Actively listen in at least 3 conversations this week, focusing on understanding the speaker without interruption.
  • Measurable: After each conversation, note key points and insights about the speaker’s perspective.
  • Achievable: Start with shorter conversations and build your focus with practice.
  • Relevant: Improved listening leads to better understanding, collaboration, and more informed decisions.
  • Time-bound: Practice consistently for a month.

7. Minimize Distractions

In a world of constant stimulation, improving focus is essential. This goal focuses on identifying and reducing distractions for better concentration during decision-making tasks.

  • Specific: For the next 3 workdays, dedicate two 30-minute blocks for focused work without checking your phone or email.
  • Measurable: Track how often you stick to the plan without getting sidetracked.
  • Achievable: Start with shorter blocks and gradually increase as your focus improves.
  • Relevant: Increased focus promotes clarity of thought and efficient decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Commit to this practice for a week to test its effectiveness.

8. Expand Your Network

Building a diverse network exposes you to new viewpoints and expands your knowledge base. This goal encourages you to strategically connect with others to make more informed decisions.

  • Specific: Attend one relevant industry event or networking meetup this month.
  • Measurable: Make at least two meaningful connections.
  • Achievable: Choose an event aligned with your goals and interests.
  • Relevant: Your network can offer valuable insights, support, and opportunities.
  • Time-bound: Attend an event within the next month.

9. Seek Mentorship

Mentorship gives you access to the wisdom and expertise of those who have walked a similar path. This goal is about seeking guidance for a specific area where you want to enhance your decision-making.

  • Specific: Identify a potential mentor and schedule an initial coffee meeting (or virtual equivalent) within the next two weeks.
  • Measurable: Prepare at least three questions related to your decision-making challenges.
  • Achievable: Focus on finding one mentor initially to build a strong relationship.
  • Relevant: A mentor can offer fresh perspectives and personalized advice.
  • Time-bound: Initiate contact within two weeks.

10. Practice ‘Decision Journaling’

Gain insights from your successes and failures. This goal is about tracking your decision-making process to identify patterns and areas for improvement.

  • Specific: For the next month, dedicate 15 minutes weekly to reflect on significant decisions in a journal.
  • Measurable: Record the decision, the process, and the outcome.
  • Achievable: Start with brief reflections and gradually expand.
  • Relevant: Improves self-awareness of your decision-making tendencies.
  • Time-bound: Commit to consistent journaling for at least a month.

11. Manage Procrastination

Procrastination can lead to rushed, last-minute decisions. This goal helps you identify procrastination triggers, and develop strategies to stay on track.

  • Specific: For the next week, identify the top 2 things you typically procrastinate on, and break them into smaller, less daunting tasks.
  • Measurable: Track how often you start those tasks promptly instead of delaying.
  • Achievable: Start with just one task, and add others as you gain confidence.
  • Relevant: Reduced procrastination leads to proactive decision-making and better outcomes.
  • Time-bound: Test these strategies for a week to see what works best for you.

"We are our choices."

Decision-making smart objectives Jean-Paul Sartre

12. Develop a “Pros and Cons” System

Sometimes, laying out the advantages and disadvantages in a structured way can illuminate the right path. This goal encourages a balanced assessment of your choices.

  • Specific: The next time you face a moderately difficult decision, dedicate 15 minutes to writing a pros and cons list.
  • Measurable: Note down at least 3 pros and 3 cons for each option.
  • Achievable: Start with less complex decisions.
  • Relevant: Provides a tangible visualization for rational comparison.
  • Time-bound: Test this on your next few decisions and adjust the approach as needed.

13. Challenge Limiting Beliefs

Our subconscious beliefs can sabotage our decision-making. This goal helps you identify and challenge those thoughts that hold you back from making bold choices.

  • Specific: For a week, pay attention to self-talk that includes phrases like “I can’t” or “It won’t work.” Write these thoughts down.
  • Measurable: Track how frequently you notice limiting beliefs.
  • Achievable: Start with just noticing the thought patterns.
  • Relevant: Identifying limiting beliefs opens up possibilities for change and growth.
  • Time-bound: Practice this for a week, then move on to actively challenging those beliefs.

14. Embrace Calculated Risks

Sometimes the best choices involve stepping outside your comfort zone. This goal is about learning to assess potential risks and rewards for informed decision-making.

  • Specific: Identify a small decision where you’re hesitant due to potential risks. Research to understand the worst-case scenario and potential gains.
  • Measurable: Decide whether the potential benefits outweigh the risk.
  • Achievable: Start with low-stakes decisions to build confidence.
  • Relevant: Calculated risk-taking allows for growth and opportunities.
  • Time-bound: Do this analysis before your next relevant decision-making opportunity.

15. Delegate Tasks

Trying to do everything yourself can lead to burnout and poor choices. This goal helps you recognize tasks that can be delegated, freeing up mental energy for important decisions.

  • Specific: Within the next two weeks, identify two recurring tasks that could be efficiently done by someone else.
  • Measurable: Create a plan for delegating these tasks (training someone, outsourcing, automating, etc.)
  • Achievable: Start with one task and assess the results.
  • Relevant: Delegation frees up time and energy for focused decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline to develop a delegation plan.

16. Sleep Well

Poor sleep impairs judgment and makes it harder to process information. This goal prioritizes those essential hours for optimal decision-making.

  • Specific: For the next week, aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
  • Measurable: Track sleep hours using an app or journal. Note your energy levels during the day.
  • Achievable: Gradually adjust your bedtime if necessary. Establish a relaxing pre-sleep routine.
  • Relevant: Well-rested = clear-headed, better equipped for decision-making.
  • Time-bound: Maintain this for a week to notice a difference.
How to set smart objectives for decision making

17. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps calm the mind and gain present-moment awareness. This goal encourages a short daily practice for enhanced focus and mental clarity.

  • Specific: Download a guided meditation app and commit to a 5-minute practice each morning for two weeks.
  • Measurable: Track how many days in a row you stick to the practice.
  • Achievable: Start with short sessions and gradually increase the duration as you get comfortable.
  • Relevant: Mindfulness reduces reactivity and promotes thoughtful, intentional choices.
  • Time-bound: Try this for two weeks consistently.

18. Seek Feedback

Trusted sources can provide invaluable perspectives. This goal is about selectively seeking input from reliable people when facing tough decisions.

  • Specific: Before making your next significant decision, identify one person whose opinion you trust to offer feedback.
  • Measurable: Schedule a brief conversation (or send a detailed email) to outline the decision and get their input.
  • Achievable: Focus on seeking feedback from someone who understands the situation.
  • Relevant: Gaining diverse insights can help you make a well-rounded choice
  • Time-bound: Do this before making your next big decision.

19. Embrace Imperfection

Fear of failure can cripple decision-making. This goal focuses on accepting that sometimes you’ll make the “wrong” choice and learning from it.

  • Specific: Think of a past decision that didn’t go as planned. Write down three valuable lessons you learned from that experience.
  • Measurable: Note how your perspective on that past decision shifts with this reflection.
  • Achievable: This is a mindset shift rather than a one-time action.
  • Relevant: Reduced perfectionism leads to bolder, more authentic decisions.
  • Time-bound: This is an ongoing process of self-reflection.

20. Celebrate Progress

Recognizing improvement is vital for ongoing motivation. This goal encourages you to acknowledge wins along your decision-making journey – big and small.

  • Specific: At the end of each month, write down 3 ways your decision-making skills have improved.
  • Measurable: Track how your confidence and clarity in decisions evolves over time.
  • Achievable: Start with small wins, gradually recognizing more significant progress.
  • Relevant: Focusing on the positive reinforces your commitment to growth.
  • Time-bound: Commit to monthly reflection.


SMART goals transform the way you approach decision-making. By injecting clarity, structure, and measurability into your goals, you gain focus, overcome procrastination, and make choices that align with your desired outcomes.

The 20 SMART goals we’ve explored offer a starting point for developing your decision-making muscle. Think of them as building blocks you can adjust and personalize based on your individual needs and priorities.

As you achieve some goals, challenge yourself with new ones to continuously strengthen your decision-making capabilities.

Next Steps

  • Choose Your Focus Areas: Review the list of goals and identify 3-5 that resonate most strongly with where you want to improve.
  • Create Your Action Plan: Take your selected SMART goals and create actionable steps, setting realistic deadlines for each step.
  • Track and Adapt: Monitor your progress. Be kind to yourself, and don’t be afraid to adjust goals or your approach as needed.
  • Embrace the Journey: Developing mastery in decision-making is an ongoing process. Celebrate your wins and remember, every SMART goal you set takes you closer to confident, empowered decision-making!

Free SMART Goal Generator!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the SMART method for making decisions?

The SMART method is like a roadmap for your goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

When you’re making a decision, using SMART helps you clearly define what you want, how you’ll track progress, set realistic targets, ensure it aligns with what’s important to you, and set a deadline to keep you on track.

How do you write a goal for decision-making?

First, pinpoint exactly what decision you’re making. Then, think about your goal through the lens of SMART: Be specific about what you want to achieve, figure out how you’ll know if you’re successful, set a goal that’s possible for you, make sure the decision fits in with your bigger picture, and put a timeframe on it.

How can I improve my decision-making skills?

The SMART framework is a great starting point – practice using it on big and small decisions! It’s also important to take some time to think about past decisions (both good and bad) to help you learn.

Don’t let big decisions overwhelm you – break them down into smaller steps. Sometimes, it’s incredibly helpful to get another point of view from someone you trust.

And finally, take care of yourself – it’s hard to make smart choices when you’re exhausted or stressed!

What are the factors that influence our decision-making?

Lots of things affect how we make decisions. Our emotions play a big role, so it’s important to be aware of how you’re feeling. We also have mental shortcuts that can sometimes lead us astray, so watch out for those.

Our past experiences and the information we have (or don’t have) definitely influence our choices.

And finally, feeling rushed never leads to good decision-making – make sure to give yourself enough time.

Quiz Time!

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