SMART Goals: Why you should care about goal setting in your recovery

Why do we set goals? As boring as it sounds, having goals gives us motivation and a vision to work towards. It helps us to organise our time and resources, which decreases the chances of us feeling demoralised and unmotivated, allowing us to feel a boost in self-confidence.

What are SMART goals?

smart goals
For best recovery results it is best to be able to contextualise your pain Maybe set some functional goals What do you want to be able to do pain free

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

In 1981, George T. Doran published an article titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”. He saw that people’s chances of success would increase if they focused on these areas.

He provided some clarification on how the readers can apply the SMART acronym: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

“Managers are confused by all the verbal from seminars, books, magazines, consultants, and so on. Let me suggest, therefore, that when it comes to writing effective objectives, corporate officers, managers, and supervisors just have to think of the acronym SMART.”

George T. Doran

Why do SMART goals work so effectively?

Let’s break it down. 

Specific. According to neuroscience, having detailed goals has something to do with the “Reticular Activating System” in our brain. On a daily basis, the system works like a filter to pull out important information and brings them to our attention.

So, the more specific your goal is, the more you will act upon it and notice things that will help you achieve it.

Measurable. Having numbers or criteria provides an instant sense of achievement that you can quantifiably see how far or near your goals are.

This then helps you stay on track, and motivate you to keep working towards your goal.

Achievable. Think about it, when your goal is out of your reach or clearly unattainable, you will less likely try at all.

Achievability is all about being practical. 

Relevant. Being realistic to make decisions that are relevant, are only limited by your own expectations of yourself and the amount of effort you are prepared to commit to achieving your goal within a certain time period. Sometimes, going too big may result in losing momentum and motivation.

Time-bound.  Let’s be honest, we all work better when we have a deadline. It prevents procrastination, due to the mental jeopardy that comes with missing the deadline.

Giving yourself a deadline, allows you to focus on working towards your goal.

You can get more out of SMART goals with a solution-focused approach

While setting SMART goals on its own already puts you ahead with your recovery. You can get a lot more value out of it if you adopt a solution-focused mindset.

Rather than dwelling on your current problems, being solution-focused narrows your attention to what will help you!

Very often, you don’t need to know the cause of your problems to create a solution.

If you are overweight and want to lose weight, you can do so by restricting your calorie intake and exercising more! You don’t really need to know what exactly it was that made you overweight.

Similarly, you can unclog a toilet without having to know exactly what was stuck in it.

You can think of solution focused as being mindful of your strengths. This means really bringing your attention to what you are already good at, your resources, resilience, and the knowledge you possess. This allows you to work quickly to identify realistic and workable solutions for yourself!

Being solution-focused allows us to be constantly driven and motivated. It also increases our self-efficacy, allowing us to commit to our goals which increases the chances of success. This is all because we are making use of the strengths we know we possess to work towards our goals!ou tt

What is the miracle question?

We often talk about the miracle question in therapy. This is because the miracle question helps you have some sense of what is truly important to you.

It also helps you identify what doesn’t matter.

The miracle question is important because it helps individuals increase clarity and in turn allows them to take small steps toward their goals.

By imagining a future in which your problems are no longer affecting your life, you really start to get a sense of what sort of future you want to work towards.

The miracle question question is generally asked in the following manner:

“Imagine that a miracle has occurred. This problem you are struggling with is suddenly absent from your life. What does your life look like without this problem?” 

SO, how to set solution-focused SMART goals?

Step 1: Specific

  • Be as specific as you can when setting your goal, focusing on desired results instead of current problems.
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • Why do you want to achieve this goal?
  • When do you want to achieve this goal?
  • Where do you want to achieve this goal?
  • Who is involved in this goal?

For example, I want to sign up for a gym membership at the nearest community centre and get a workout in four times a week to be healthier. 


Step 2: Measurable

  • Criteria must be present to determine progress/to track your goal
  • Sometimes compared with your current state/level. BE HONEST!
  • To set a measurable goal, ask yourself: 
  • What is your indicator of progress?
  • How many/much?

For example, I want to sign up for a gym membership at the nearest community centre and get a workout four times a week to be healthier. I will aim to lose 0.5kgs every week.

Step 3: Achievable

  • Helps you realise/figure out ways to work towards it
  • Sometimes compared to current state/level
  • It is good to aim high, but not too extreme
  • To set an achievable goal, ask yourself:
  • Do you have the capability (e.g., resources) to reach this goal?
  • Have others done this before?

Step 4: Relevant

  • A goal that can be realistically achieved to where you are in your life right now
  • To set a relevant goal, ask yourself:
    • Does the goal seem realistic and attainable?
    • Would you be able to commit to the goal?

Step 5: Time-bound

  • Include a start date and a deadline
  • Helps to motivate you to get started
  • To set a timely goal, ask yourself: By when do you want to achieve your goal?

For example, I want to sign up for a gym membership at the nearest community centre at the start of this month and get a workout in four times a week to be healthier. I will aim to lose 0.5kgs every week. My goal would be to lose a total of 1.5kgs at the end of the month.

Your turn now!

As a chiropractor, I often see clients struggling to get results with their recovery. This can often be attributed to having no clarity of what exactly they want out of their recovery.

You can avoid this with a robust goal setting process!


Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.