I have always found that the definition of a measurable goal can be more confusing that the other components of a SMART goal.  Why is that?  Some articles will tell you that it’s how you know you reached your goal.  But that still sounds confusing to me because I think that defining a SMART goal, with all 5 areas of Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound is what gives you what you need to know that you reached your goal.  Others will tell you that it’s how you measure success.

In our article “How do you make a goal Specific“, we gave you some examples on what that looks like. Once you’ve defined the S, it’s time to move on to the M, Measurable.  The measurable part of the goal is how you have defined it to know that you’re making progress.  When you see that you are following your plan, your commitment, it gives you energy and keeps you motivated to keep at it, even if your end goal is months away.

Making progress with measurable goals

Why should a goal be measurable?

Has your teen ever had a big science project or paper to submit at school, assigned at the beginning of the semester and they somehow forget to work on it at all until one or two days before it was due? How did that go?  A little crazed, rushed, and probably with not great results, am I right?

How could that been different?  Well, one way to make sure that your teen to make progress towards an end goal in a way that is more efficient, is to make it measurable.

When commit to work on a goal on a regular basis, it is easier to track progress.  It also keeps them motivated, accountable, and focused on their purpose.  Your teens need to set a real, tangible way to check in with themselves on whether they’re actively working towards their goal, or not.

So how does this apply to your teen’s goals? 

To fill in the second part of a SMART goal is to make it Measurable. This means that they will have to state very clearly how to track that they’re making progress every day or every week. This is also the way to stay accountable to yourself, and realize that if you don’t work on your goals a little bit at a time, you will most likely fall behind and not get to the end result you envisioned. At least not in the amount of time you thought you should.

Defining your goal in a way that your progress is measurable is also a way to keep Tim Urban’s Instant Gratification Monkey in check… Now you’re probably thinking, what the heck am I talking about?  Recently a friend recommended that I watch Tim Urban’s Ted Talk “Inside the Mind of a Procrastinator”, which is a fun and very funny take on procrastination and the habit of waiting until the last minute to get anything done.  I encourage you to watch this fun presentation, since it’s less than 15 minutes long, and hopefully you’ll get some “a-ha!” moments.

When you think of “measurable”, you will want to focus on quantities.  Your Measurable goal should be able to answer one of these questions:

  • How many?  Think how many pages will you write, or how many steps of an experiment will you complete every week.
  • How much? For example, how much time will I spend every day working on this goal.
  • What is my indicator of progress?  Is it number of words learned?

In Tim Urban’s video, he talks about writing his thesis and setting a goal of a number of pages per day, which was a great way to divide the work so it’s not totally overwhelming.  But it all fell apart when he didn’t follow the plan.  If your teen makes their goal measurable, AND follow the plan to make regular progress, I promise the results will be different!  🙂

Examples of Measurable Goals

Let’s go through some examples so that it is hopefully easier to see what I’m talking about.


Learn Spanish

I will practice Spanish 


I will practice 10 new Spanish words every day




Improve dance

I will go to dance class  


I will attend 2 hours of dance classes every day of the week 



Saving money

I will save money   


I will put aside $20 every week from my chores and job earnings 


See how making a goal measurable turns it from a generic statement into something you can actually schedule and check off a list?  Not only will this help your teens realize that they are making progress, it will also reduce the stress and anxiety that comes from procrastinating and then realizing that there is no way they can now complete that project or turn in an assignment that they can be proud of.


More Helpful Tools for Goal Setting

Measurable Goals track progress

We were inspired by the SMART Goals process, and our own teens’ need to learn to set these types of goals, in creating an app.  That’s why in our Teen SMART Goals app we guide teens to set up the SMART goal process so that they can make it measurable by defining exactly what is their daily or weekly commitment to work on their goals.

If you’re more of a paper and pen person, you can use one of our SMART Goals worksheets as a starting point, or create your own.   

Whether on your phone or using paper, the key to success is to follow a simple process that helps define a plan that your teen actually wants to follow!   

More about SMART Goals

We’ve now covered the Specific and Measurable in SMART goals, but the rest of the elements are just as important. You can see 5 examples of SMART goals for teens that can also help to inspire your teen or give them something to mimic so they can get started on the right track. 

We keep building examples of SMART goals for our Facebook community, My SMART Teen.  Join us and let us know what goals your teen is working on, and we can help you and your teen achieve success!


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