The Best Goal-Setting Worksheets You Can Use Right Now

man using goal setting worksheet

Goal setting serves multiple strategic purposes. Clear goals motivate you, provide a meaningful target and give you a sense of accomplishment upon reaching them. In fact, top motivational keynote speakers such as Natasha Graziano, Simon T. Bailey and Karen M. Allen have built worldwide acclaim for their respective abilities helping people understand and reach their goals.

But goal setting isn’t as simple as imagining where you want to go. In part, setting strategic goals is an art. On the one hand, goals should be powerful enough to provide motivation and meaning. On the other hand, goals must be realistic enough for you to achieve and feel gratification rather than end in frustration.

Why use a goal-setting worksheet?

Of course, you must develop a plan to achieve your goals. The plan should include stages, a timeline and measured outcomes along the way. But the mistake we often make is trying to hold that plan in our heads. Why is this a mistake? Consider the fact that you will require problem-solving tools. On the way to meeting your goals, you’ll encounter challenges, make countless decisions and face detours you never imagined. At any one of these points, you can lose sight of your long-term objective.

This is where goal-setting worksheets come into play. While fast and easy to use, they serve multiple strategic purposes. First, they compel you to make a realistic plan from the outset. In this way, you understand step-by-step where you need to go to achieve your goals. Secondly, these worksheets constrain you to a timeline. That helps you better think things through, and it obliges you forward at every stage. Finally, whether you’re by yourself learning as a solopreneur or managing a team, goal-setting worksheets provide time for assessment and reflection of mileposts reached.

There are possibly hundreds of thousands of free goal-setting worksheets available online, so choosing the best one can seem challenging. After all, how you outline your goals can greatly affect your entire approach to meeting them.

Here, we outline the meaning of SMART goals, their benefits and where to find them. Plus, we offer links to some of our favorite niche goal-setting worksheets.

What is SMART goal setting and how will a worksheet help me?

A brief history of the SMART goal method

Excellent goal setting requires both motivation and incentives to achieve the desired results for you, your team or your company. Psychologist Edwin Locke, Ph.D., and Gary Latham, Ph.D., quantified these principles more than 50 years ago through goal-setting theory. Locke’s paper “Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives” was published in a 1968 edition of the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Performance. It set a new standard in understanding best methods for achieving goals. Decades later, George T. Doran applied Locke’s principles in his article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives” published by Management Review in 1981.

Since then, SMART goals have grown in prominence as an industry standard developing the best goal-setting templates.

What does SMART stand for?

In goal setting, SMART means:

  • Specific: your goal isn’t vague or arbitrary but clear and significant
  • Measurable: your goal has an objectively measurable value
  • Achievable: make your goal realistic, modifying as necessary
  • Relevant: align your goal with the overall purpose of your company or team
  • Timebound: set timelines for your goals

How SMART worksheets put method into practice to achieve your dreams

The best SMART goal-setting worksheets incorporate all of this research and history into an effective planning system you can use. More importantly, they’ve made the process simple. In fact, their primary purpose is to guide you in taking the complex processes involved in setting and reaching your goals and breaking them down into simple, actionable steps.

The worksheets don’t tell you what your goals should be. Instead, they help you conceive and strategize your goals with the SMART model in mind. In this way, they do more than ground your goal-setting process. They help you organize the process by creating clear, time- and purpose-driven goalposts along the way.

Where do I find free SMART goal-setting worksheets?

Our criteria

In finding the best free SMART goal-setting worksheets, we weighed:

  1. Are the templates truly free without input of name, email or credit card?
  2. How do they balance simplicity versus solid outcomes?
  3. Are the worksheets easily printable for use anywhere and everywhere?
  4. Do the worksheets offer versatility for any industry or even personal improvement?
  5. Are they aesthetically appealing enough that they invite you to use them with a smile?

Top All-Purpose, Goal-Setting Worksheets

Begin SMART planning with 13 Free, Printable SMART Goals Worksheets for 2023 provided by Develop Good Habits. In just a page, these worksheets do a lot of lifting in helping you think through your goals.

For a deeper dive into action timelines, check out the worksheets from OnPlanners. These attractive SMART planning worksheets help you form your goals to a plan of action. Plus, they assist you in tracking your benchmarks on a weekly or monthly basis.

Top Niche Planning Worksheets

You can use the all-purpose worksheets above in planning almost any circumstance. But niche worksheets related to particular topics or goals can be useful, too. They employ the same methods to help you make planning easier. But they do it in a customized way to fit your particular needs. Here are some hot topics for goal setters and some of our favorite SMART-influenced worksheets uniquely designed for them.

Career Planning Worksheets
Career planning offers its own unique goals, challenges and modes of thinking. Once again, the Develop Good Habits website offers some of our favorite worksheets for setting career goals. 

SMART Worksheet for Managers
Managers need to set goals not only for themselves but their staff. Setting those goals together generally yields the best outcomes. This PDF goal-setting worksheet for you and your staff provides instructions to help you plan together using the SMART method.

Goal-Setting Planner for Improved Health
Improving your health and wellness is very personal. The goals, therefore, are highly individualized. The wellness program at Dartmouth College kept this in mind when developing their SMART-based worksheet for achieving your health goals.

Goal Worksheet for Real Estate
Setting goals as a real estate agent offers unique accounting challenges. Hooquest had this in mind when developing this goal-setting template for real estate agents. These are different in nature from a typical SMART goal-setting worksheet. So, we recommend using this free PDF or Word document in conjunction with an all-purpose SMART planner.

Free Goal Planners for Teens
Teenagers face their own unique challenges. Just as importantly, they expect a pleasing yet genuine aesthetic in their media. With these criteria in mind, Money Prodigy offers 11 free goal-setting worksheets for teens. These worksheets help your teen determine actionable steps toward goals. And they’re available in subjects ranging from saving money to generalized monthly and long-term goals.

SMART Worksheet for Addiction Recovery
Substance misuse and addiction affects every aspect of our lives. It also affects the lives of those around us, sometimes more than we know. But recovery, like any major goal, requires a step-by-step plan. This free SMART goal-setting worksheet from SMART Recovery gets you started in meeting your challenge with a solid plan.

If you want to read more about setting attainable goals, consider reading a goal-setting book.

Photo by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

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Bryan enjoys the digital space where arts and technology meet. As a writer, he has worked in education, health and wellbeing, and manufacturing. He also assists smaller businesses in web development including accessibility and content development. In his free time, he hikes trails in central Florida.

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