S.M.A.R.T. Goals


“Most people overestimate what they can do in a day, and underestimate what they can do in a month.” - Anonymous

Before you start working on your activities for the Award, you need to set goals for each activity. Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What will I need to do to get there?

Life gets in the way, and it’s not always easy to keep focused on your activities. Staying motivated is incredibly important when it comes to getting what we want in the long term—and you’ll need commitment over time to achieve the Award. Having a goal that you want in mind, with some clear steps to get there, can help you keep going.

Which of the two following goals is likely to be more motivating?

      I want to run faster.

      In 3 months, I will be able to run 5km in 30 minutes. I will achieve this by running 5km 3 times per week.

For most people the second goal would likely work better. To maximize your chance of success with your activities, set goals that acknowledge where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there. The clearer your goal is, the easier it is to know the path to achieving it. We call these S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Work SMARTer


For each activity, aim for a goal that answers all the above questions. You might even want to break it down letter by letter in Online Record Book, for example:


Submit your chosen activities and goals through your Online Record Book (ORB) and your Award Leader will approve them. Once approved, you can start recording your Award activities!

Depending on what your goal looks like, your Leader may ask you some questions to help revise your goals to be more concrete, detailed, and well defined before you can begin recording any activity in your ORB.

You may also want to download this Worksheet on Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals to use by yourself or with your Assessor.


This revision process might take some time but having a clear S.M.A.R.T. goal is essential before you can start your Award. Your Assessors and Award Leader are there to help you set yourself up for success.

Keep in mind that sometimes we don't know how long something will take. As you progress, you may begin to realize you need more time to in order to achieve what you set out to accomplish. Your focus should not be on achieving the Award within the minimum timeframe of your level but on setting an appropriate and clear goal. What you wish to achieve may take longer than the minimum timeframe.

If you need to adjust a goal, speak with your Assessor and Award Leader who can assist you.

Tips for Goal Setting

VISUALIZE: Close your eyes, imagine, and describe what you see yourself accomplishing. Be as specific and detailed as possible. Focus on meaning. Your goal should inspire you to accomplish something that really means something to you, inspiring you to put the effort in to act.

BABY STEPS: Break down some of the first actions you’ll need to take to make progress towards your goal. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you can accomplish your goal in the first week, it probably wasn’t challenging enough! Keep working, and try to establish a habit, routine, or system so you can regularly work towards your goal. Knowing what to do next makes it easier to keep working.
Not sure about where to start? Get stuck partway? Your knowledgeable Assessor is there to help guide you with their experience – that's why you chose them. Read more about how to find an Assessor.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS: What gets measured, gets managed. Apply numbers and measurable criteria to your goal—ask yourself: How big? How much? How many?
There are many technologies that can help with this, from reviewing video of yourself to fitness trackers, to checklists, and more. You might want to reward yourself as you hit some milestones partway toward your big goal, too!

ADJUST: Sometimes we base our goals on what we think we 'should' do, or even what other people say we 'should' do. If you want to learn to learn to play your favourite songs, don’t choose “pass level 6 music exam” instead. Activities should be both challenging and enjoyable, so make sure you are going after something that you want and that makes you happy.

If a goal no longer feels relevant to you, don't give up! You should be contacting your Assessor on a regular basis. If you're struggling with your goal, tell them. They are there to provide advice and guidance to help you overcome any roadblocks. Talk with your Assessor and Leader if you need to revise your goal as well – it's all part of the learning process of doing the Award.

Examples of S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Piano: I am currently pursuing my Grade 8 Piano exam. My goal is to pass it with a distinction. I will attend weekly lessons and practice technique and songs at home for 3 hours each week.

Language: Over the course of the 26 weeks, I aim to improve my ability in Arabic. I, with the use of the internet, aim to go from having no knowledge of Arabic at all to being able to read and write a small amount of Arabic that a native Arabic speaker can understand. I aim to be able to produce a short essay about myself, in Arabic, that can be understood by my assessor, who is a native Arabic speaker.

Soccer: My aim is to improve my own soccer ability, especially my attacking play including my passing and shooting ability, and also become fitter in the process, and I aim to achieve this by April 2019. In order to achieve this, I will partake in soccer training once every week.

Swimming: I have been swimming since I was eight years old, but I only started to swim competitively and seriously when I was eleven. My aim is to 1) improve my time for backstroke (50 m) from 45 seconds to 39 seconds, 2) improve time for butterfly stroke (50 m) from 39 seconds to 35 seconds. This will happen through my training at Fast Swimming Swim Club each week.

Tutoring/ help to others: I am going to help out at my local Boys & Girls Club by listening to grade 5 students read and by helping them develop their reading skills. I have received training on how to do this. I now know that I need to ask at least 5 specific questions and give them tips to make sure they understand what they are reading and improve their reading in general. I’ll be able to achieve my goal by going to an hour a week (twice a week to complete an hour). I will know I achieved this goal when I see the teacher is satisfied by the progress the children and I made and indicates this on the Assessor's report.

Food bank/ Soup kitchen: My goal is to help at the soup kitchen in my town, to volunteer my time to help those less fortunate than myself. To start with I’ll help prepare the food in the kitchen, but by the end of three months I would like to have grown in confidence in working in the soup kitchen and progress to serving the food and interacting with the vulnerable people.

Adventurous Journey: My aim is to understand and interpret the human impact in Algonquin Park and study how much humans have affected the wildlife and flora and fauna. I also want to work well within our team and efficiently cover the required distance while taking appropriate and necessary pictures and notes for our project over 3 days.