Setting Target Goals

Putting Goals to the "SMART" Test

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When formulating target goals, the involved parties should endeavor to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART)1-3:

  • Specific: Develop specific goals that are clearly stated and/or written.
  • Measurable: A goal is measurable if one can clearly determine whether progress is being made toward reaching the goal.
  • Attainable: Patients and/or their parents and caregivers should all agree that the goal is worthy of pursuing.
  • Realistic: Ensure that the goals are attainable.
  • Timely: A timely goal is one that can be achieved in a period that is meaningful and not too far in the future.

Examples of "SMART" Academic and Social Goals 1-3

Academic Target Social Target
Returns completed homework Follows directions with X or fewer reminders
Stays on task with X or fewer reminders Raises hand with X or fewer reminders
Begins work with X or fewer reminders Waits for people to finish speaking during conversations without interrupting
Completes assignments in specified amount of time Keeps hands/feet to self with X or fewer reminders
X = the variable tailored to individual patients.


  1. Subcommittee on Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Steering Committee on Quality Improvement and Management. ADHD: clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2011:128(5):1007-1022, SI1-SI21.
  2. Brinkman WB, Epstein JN. Treatment planning for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: treatment utilization and family preferences. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2011;5:45-56.
  3. Doran GT. There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review. 1981; 70(11):35-36.