9 SMART Goals Examples for Developing Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is all about using your head to make judgments rather than simply following your gut instinct or going along with what others think or do.

It’s about being open-minded and considering all the available information before coming to a conclusion. But that’s easier said than done.

Luckily, developing goals is an amazing approach to sharpening your critical thinking skills. Whether you are an industry professional or a college student, setting SMART goals will elevate your ability to think critically.

You’ll be living more successfully in your career and personal life. After all, SMART goals are crucial to making a step-by-step plan for realizing your visions. This is a powerful tool that determines if you attain your dreams.

What is a SMART Goal?

It would be best if you used the SMART goal framework to set goals for improving critical thinking. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Let’s discuss each SMART component for critical thinking:


The more specific your goals, the higher your chance of reaching them. If you only create vague goals, you lose out on opportunities for success.

For instance, suppose your goal is to boost critical thinking. Although this is a worthy goal, it isn’t precise enough. How will you go about improving your critical thinking skills? Why is critical thinking necessary to you in the first place?

Specificity will ensure you are on the right path to goal attainment. You will have a better structure and plan to arrive at your destination.


The importance of creating measurable goals can’t be understated. You must have a metric to track progress regularly. That way, you’ll clearly understand how close you are to goal completion.

If your critical thinking goals involve reading more books on the topic, you could make them quantifiable. For example, you could “read four books on critical thinking until three months later.” Since you know the exact amount of books you must read, you can pace yourself more effectively.


When developing goals for critical thinking skills, you must be realistic. For example, if you want to enhance your ability to learn new information, you can’t expect to do so in a few days. You must stay dedicated and have a long enough timeline to tackle this goal.


Consider the “why” when creating goals for yourself. Using the previous example, boosting your learning ability could be a means to get better grades in school or excel in the workplace.

Making sure all your goals are relevant will encourage you to stay motivated throughout the process. Ask yourself, “Does this goal align with my values and interests?” If the answer is yes, then you’ll have a much easier time sparking inspiration.


It would help if you had a timeline to aid you in turning goals into reality. Adding an end date for your critical thinking goals will hold you accountable for making progress.

Otherwise, you may procrastinate and abandon the race to success altogether. That would be an unfortunate turn of events, so ensure you have an exact target end date.

Why Are SMART Goals Important for Critical Thinking?

Thinking critically is an essential skill in any part of life. Whether you’re trying to solve a complex problem at work, deciding your finances, or even just hoping to understand the news, critical thinking will help you make rational judgments.

That’s why setting SMART goals is instrumental in upgrading your critical thinking. SMART goals can force you to think critically about your options and make decisions that align with your objectives.

problem solving

Regardless if you’re trying to enhance your critical thinking skills for work or your personal life, SMART goals can be a true lifesaver.

9 SMART Goals Examples for Critical Thinking

Let’s take a look at several SMART goals examples to improve your critical thinking skills:

1. Be an Active and Engaged Learner

“In the next 6 months, I want to improve my ability to actively and deeply engage with new information. I will read for 20 minutes daily and reflect on what I’ve read.”

Specific: The individual wants to become an active and engaged learner.

Measurable: You will read for 20 minutes every day and reflect on what you’ve read.

Attainable: This is an achievable goal because it is specific and measurable.

Relevant: The goal is appropriate because learning is integral to thinking critically.

Time-based: This goal is time-bound because it has an end date of 6 months.

2. Develop a Growth Mindset

“By the end of two weeks, I want to develop a growth mindset. I will read one book on the power of mindset and complete all the exercises. And for the cherry on top, I’ll seek a mentor to help me develop my growth mindset.”

Specific: The goal is to develop a growth mindset by reading books and completing exercises on the topic.

Measurable: The person will ensure they read at least one book on the topic and find a mentor.

Attainable: This can be developed with time and directed effort.

Relevant: A growth mindset benefits anyone looking to expand their thinking capabilities.

Time-based: You will develop a growth mindset within two weeks.

3. Be Aware of Your Biases

“I’ll strive to be more aware of my personal biases and preconceptions. For one month, I will read one article or book each week on bias and write down my thoughts in a journal. I will also speak to three people from different perspectives about an issue I feel strongly about.”

Specific: There are actionable steps to becoming more aware of your biases, such as reading about biases and talking to people with unique perspectives.

Measurable: You can check your progress by tracking how often you read about bias and talk to others with different perspectives.

Attainable: This goal is reachable with intentional effort.

Relevant: Recognizing your personal biases is crucial to drawing rational conclusions.

Time-based: You should complete this goal in the next month.

4. Examine Evidence and Arguments

“For 5 months, I will increase my ability to examine evidence and arguments. I’ll do this by attending two workshops and reading 5 articles and books on the subject. Furthermore, I will discuss with my mentor how to examine evidence and arguments.”

Specific: This SMART statement clearly defines what the individual wants to achieve.

Measurable: The individual will know they are making progress when they attend the workshops, read the articles and books, and talk to their mentor.

Attainable: This goal is achievable as long as the individual is willing to commit the time and effort.

Relevant: This is relevant to the individual’s life as it will help them develop a critical thinking skill that is useful in many day-to-day situations.

Time-based: The goal should be reached within 5 months.

5. Question Assumptions

“I’ll start questioning my assumptions more, especially when making decisions for three months. I will do this by setting aside 10 minutes at the start of every day to reflect on my assumptions, and I’ll question assumptions that others make during conversations.”

Specific: The goal states the objective, what will be done to achieve it, and the timeline.

Measurable: You could keep track of the number of times you question assumptions in a day or week.

Attainable: This goal is possible because it is realistic to question assumptions more.

Relevant: This is pertinent to critical thinking because it helps you reflect on your assumptions and biases.

Time-based: The specific timeline for this goal is three months. It could also be something that you work on every day.

6. Consider Different Viewpoints

“I will consider different points of view when making decisions for the next two months. I will try to see things from the perspective of others, even if I disagree with them.”

unique viewpoints

Specific: The goal is clear and concise, stating precisely the objective.

Measurable: This can be measured by observing the decision-making process and determining whether or not different viewpoints were considered.

Attainable: This goal can be met by changing how you approach decision-making.

Relevant: This is relevant to critical thinking because it requires you to think from different perspectives.

Time-based: There is a two-month timeline for meeting this particular goal.

7. Reflect on Your Beliefs and Values

“I will spend 30 minutes each week reflecting on my beliefs and values for a month. I want to be able to articulate why I hold the beliefs that I do and how my values guide my thinking process.”

Specific: There is a set time for reflection and a focus on both beliefs and values.

Measurable: You’ll reflect on your beliefs and values for 30 minutes each week.

Attainable: The statement is achievable with regular reflection.

Relevant: Understanding your own beliefs and values will help you think more objectively.

Time-based: You should complete this goal within the next month.

8. Be Persistent in the Search for Truth

“I will never accept something as true just because it is convenient or popular. I’ll never rush when dealing with complex problems. I will take at least 10 minutes to consider all sides of the issue and gather as much information as possible before making a judgment.”

Specific: There are particular actions to being persistent in your search for truth, such as taking 10 minutes to consider all sides of the issue and gathering information.

Measurable: Ensure you are taking the time to consider all sides of an issue before making a judgment.

Attainable: This goal is doable with intentional effort.

Relevant: Persisting in your search for truth will support rational thinking.

Time-based: This is a recurring SMART goal to pursue every single day.

9. Set Learning Objectives

“In the next month, I want to learn more about data analysis to make informed decisions in my work. I will do this by taking an online course on data analysis and reading two books on the subject. Lastly, I’ll chat with my boss and colleagues about data analysis and how it can be used in our work.”

Specific: You want to learn more about data analysis to improve your work decisions.

Measurable: The goal is measurable because it includes taking an online course and reading two books on the subject.

Attainable: This is feasible because you are taking active steps to learn about data analysis.

Relevant: This is pertinent to the individual because data analysis can foster critical thinking in their work.

Time-based: The goal is time-bound since it has a one-month timeline.

Final Thoughts

Creating SMART goals is necessary in order to boost your critical thinking. Although other goal techniques like visualization could lend a helping hand, you should still take advantage of the SMART framework.

SMART goals are a powerful tool in your arsenal, and it would certainly be a waste not to apply them in your daily life.

In any case, don’t be shy to apply the 9 SMART goals examples for efficient critical thinking. You will surely be steps closer to succeeding in all areas.

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Rei Shen

Rei is the founder of Success in Depth. Based in Washington, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. He brings years of experience in goal setting to empower readers to reach their aspirations.