13 SMART Goals Examples for Ineffective Coping

Coping is an integral part of human life. It refers to individuals’ efforts to manage, reduce, or tolerate internal and external demands that are perceived as stressful. But not everyone copes effectively with stress.

Sometimes, people may resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse, avoidance, or self-harm. This can lead to negative consequences and impact an individual’s overall wellness.

In order to address ineffective coping, setting SMART goals can be a powerful approach. In this article, we’ll discuss 13 SMART goals examples for ineffective coping. But first, let’s understand what SMART goals are.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based) framework is a powerful tool that can enable individuals dealing with ineffective coping to establish practical goals.

Let’s delve into each aspect of the SMART acronym:


Specificity is key when developing goals. The more detailed your objectives are, the higher your chances of achieving them. Being precise keeps your focus sharp and prevents your motivation from dwindling.


For those grappling with ineffective coping, it’s crucial to create goals that can be tracked and measured. That allows you to ensure that your progress is organized, preventing you from feeling overwhelmed.


While it’s essential to aim high, it’s equally important to keep your goals achievable. Setting unrealistic goals may lead to disappointment, while setting them too low can result in a lack of fulfillment. Striking the right balance between ambition and feasibility is key to excellence.


Your goals should align with your personal values and aspirations. When your goals are relevant and meaningful to you, they can provide the motivation needed to persevere through challenging times.


Setting a timeline for your goals helps you remain focused. Success doesn’t happen overnight—it requires consistent effort over time. By having time-bound goals, you will maintain your momentum and stay on course towards meeting your targets.

13 SMART Goals Examples for Ineffective Coping

1. Increase Self-Awareness

“Over the following 6 months, I will dedicate 15 minutes daily to journaling and reflecting on my emotions, reactions, and thought patterns. I know that it’s important to gain a better understanding of myself and my coping mechanisms.”

Specific: The goal specifies journaling and seeing a therapist to increase self-awareness.

Measurable: Evaluate progress by reviewing and discussing your journal entries with your therapist.

Attainable: You have identified a practical way to boost self-awareness by setting aside time each day for journaling.

Relevant: Improving self-awareness can lead to more effective coping strategies and better overall well-being.

Time-based: The SMART statement is set to be achieved after 6 months.

2. Seek Support From Loved Ones

“I plan to contact my loved ones and ask for their support in managing my stress within two weeks. I’ll make sure to schedule regular check-ins with them to discuss my progress and any challenges I may be facing.”

Specific: The individual identifies a time frame (two weeks) and action step (reaching out and scheduling check-ins).

Measurable: Record check-ins and how often you contact your support system.

Attainable: This is feasible as it involves seeking assistance from people you trust and setting up a support system.

Relevant: This statement is applicable because having a solid support system can help an individual cope with stress more effectively.

Time-based: You have a two-week deadline to accomplish success.

3. Practice Relaxation Techniques

“I’ll practice relaxation techniques for 20 minutes every day for the next month to better manage my stress levels. That way, I hope to cope more effectively with challenging situations.”

Specific: You have identified the action to be taken: practicing relaxation techniques for 20 minutes daily.

Measurable: Track the number of days that relaxation techniques are implemented.

Attainable: It is possible to find 20 minutes daily to practice relaxation techniques.

Relevant: Relaxation techniques are a healthy way to cope with stress.

Time-based: There is a one-month timeline for completing this statement.

4. Engage in Regular Physical Exercise

“By incorporating regular exercise into my daily routine, I will improve my mental and physical well-being within 6 months. That will involve setting aside at least 30 minutes daily to engage in physical activity.”

Specific: This goal is clear, stating the desired outcome of improving one’s mental and physical well-being.

Measurable: You can determine success by tracking the frequency and duration of physical exercise.

Attainable: Incorporating 30 minutes of exercise daily is a realistic goal that can be met with dedication and determination.

Relevant: Exercise could have numerous benefits for mental and physical health, making it a pertinent goal for coping with stress.

Time-based: Six months is the timeline, providing a sense of urgency.

5. Identify Triggers and Avoid Them

“I will identify my triggers for ineffective coping and develop a plan to avoid them over the three weeks ahead. I want to increase my awareness of situations that lead to ineffective coping and create a plan to handle them more healthily.”

Specific: This is explicit in identifying triggers and developing a plan to avoid them.

Measurable: Keep track of the times you successfully avoided triggering situations.

Attainable: This goal is realistic and achievable with effort and careful planning.

Relevant: Developing the ability to identify and resist triggers can allow you to cope better with difficult situations.

Time-based: Completion of this SMART goal is anticipated in three weeks.

6. Attend Therapy Sessions Regularly

“Starting next week, I’ll attend therapy sessions every Monday and Thursday at 6 PM. I will set up recurring appointments to ensure consistent attendance. Additionally, I will take notes during each session for future reference.”

Specific: You have precise actions available—attend therapy sessions every Monday and Thursday at 6 PM and take notes during each session.

Measurable: Make sure you attend sessions consistently by setting up recurring appointments.

Attainable: If therapy is essential to your coping process, this is doable with proper scheduling and commitment.

Relevant: This goal directly relates to your main objective of elevating coping skills through therapy.

Time-based: This goal will be met on an ongoing basis starting next week.

7. Challenge Negative Thought Patterns

“I will work with a therapist to identify and challenge negative thought patterns contributing to my ineffective coping mechanisms over the next 5 months. I’ll also practice using positive affirmations and journaling daily to help reframe my thoughts.”

Specific: Work on challenging negative thought patterns with the support of a therapist and using positive affirmations and journaling.

Measurable: Assess the frequency and intensity of negative thoughts and the effectiveness of the coping mechanisms.

Attainable: Seeking help from a therapist is a realistic step in addressing negative thought patterns.

Relevant: Challenging negative thought patterns can greatly improve mental health and overall coping mechanisms.

Time-based: The goal will be attained over the course of 5 months.

8. Set Boundaries to Protect Well-Being

“Within two weeks, I’ll establish clear boundaries with my colleagues and clients to prevent burnout and promote a healthy work-life balance. This will involve setting specific working hours, delegating tasks, and scheduling time for self-care activities.”

Specific: Set boundaries with colleagues and clients to protect personal well-being.

Measurable: Check-ins will be conducted after two weeks to assess if boundaries have been successfully established.

Attainable: This is feasible as it involves taking control of one’s schedule and communicating effectively with others.

Relevant: Given the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance, this goal is relevant to addressing ineffective coping.

Time-based: The goal has a clear deadline of two weeks for implementation.

9. Improve Time Management Skills

“Over the next four weeks, I will organize my schedule by setting a daily to-do list and utilizing time-blocking techniques for maximum efficiency. I want to decrease my procrastination and increase productivity.”

Specific: You know the action items (set a daily to-do list and use time-blocking) and how long you must do it (four weeks).

Measurable: Keep an eye on your progress daily and assess if you’ve been sticking to the system.

Attainable: You have control over your time management skills as long as you make an effort to prioritize and stay focused.

Relevant: Improving time management can reduce stress levels and increase productivity, which aligns with coping more effectively.

Time-based: The SMART goal provides a deadline (four weeks) for completion.

10. Find Healthy Outlets for Emotions

“I’ll try different activities such as yoga, painting, or writing in my journal by the end of the month. This should help me find healthier ways of coping with my emotions instead of resorting to unhealthy habits.”

Specific: Find and engage in activities that serve as healthy emotional outlets.

Measurable: Make sure you journal and note the different activities you tried.

Attainable: There are many healthy activities to choose from that can help with stress management.

Relevant: Finding healthier coping mechanisms is vital for overall well-being and handling stress.

Time-based: One month is the deadline required for goal achievement.

11. Work on Building Resilience

“By the end of three months, I want to handle stressful situations better and maintain a positive attitude towards challenges. I know this will take effort, but I’m willing to work on it.”

Specific: This is detailed as the individual wants to improve their ability to handle stress and maintain a positive attitude.

Measurable: You can reflect on your reactions to challenging situations over three months.

Attainable: Building resilience is not an easy endeavor, but it’s doable with practice.

Relevant: Resilience is crucial for stress management, and this goal directly addresses the issue of ineffective coping.

Time-based: You have a three-month window to work on this statement.

12. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices

“The person will incorporate 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation into their daily routine within two months to reduce stress and improve their coping skills. They will use a guided meditation app or join a mindfulness group to help them stay the course.”

Specific: The SMART goal outlines the action steps (incorporating mindfulness practices) and the timeline (one month).

Measurable: You’ll gauge progress using a guided meditation app or attending a mindfulness group.

Attainable: Ten minutes of mindfulness practice daily is possible for most people.

Relevant: Mindfulness could minimize stress, making it a suitable goal for someone struggling with ineffective coping.

Time-based: You need two months to turn this into a successful habit.

13. Celebrate Small Achievements

“Instead of focusing solely on the final outcome, I will celebrate small achievements within three weeks. Doing so will help me stay motivated and feel a sense of progress, ultimately leading to better coping with stressors.”

Specific: The SMART statement outlines the action of celebrating small achievements.

Measurable: Monitor the frequency of celebrations and determine how they impact your wellness.

Attainable: It is achievable as it only requires reframing one’s mindset.

Relevant: The goal pertains to enhancing coping skills by breaking the outcome into smaller, manageable milestones.

Time-based: You should be able to succeed within three weeks.

Final Thoughts

While SMART is a helpful tool for improving coping mechanisms, realize that progress and change take time. It’s okay to stumble or face setbacks as long as you continue working towards your goals.

Seeking support from loved ones and professionals can also greatly aid in achieving these goals and promoting better mental health. Remember to prioritize self-care and take breaks when needed.

With determination, you can successfully manage ineffective coping and build healthier habits for a more fulfilling life. You’re not alone in this path to better coping. Take it one step at a time, and celebrate your success.

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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.