12 SMART Goals Examples for Pain Management

Pain can be a debilitating experience, both physically and mentally. Luckily, SMART goals are a fantastic way to structure your pain management goals to maximize effectiveness.

This article provides examples of SMART goals related to pain management. It will be a starting point for designing a personal plan to improve your quality of life and physical functioning.

What is a SMART Goal?

The SMART technique can help you create goals for pain management. In case you don’t know, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

Let’s learn more about each SMART criterion:


Detailed goals provide clarity and focus on what must be accomplished. Having a plan with clearly outlined tasks and deadlines helps keep us accountable and motivated to reach the finish line. In contrast, vague goals tend to lack direction and rarely lead to success.


One element often overlooked in goal setting is having a reliable way of measuring progress. Without a benchmark or measurement system, you won’t get an accurate picture of whether or not you’re achieving your desired results.

To ensure success, it’s critical that you have a precise method for monitoring and evaluating your goals over time.


Remember that reaching your goals should never be an impossible task. Instead, strive for attainable goals that challenge you in a healthy way.

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to set goals that coincide with your abilities; this encourages you to work hard while preventing feelings of frustration due to unmet expectations.


Creating relevant goals will spark motivation for yourself and allow you to push through even the most challenging times. Finding the inspiration and stamina necessary to keep moving forward can be arduous, but developing meaningful goals will encourage you to stay the course.


An accurate timeline is essential if you want the best chance of attaining your goals. Having deadlines in place also forces you to prioritize your time more effectively and allocate energy toward what matters most to meet your desired outcome.

12 SMART Goals Examples for Pain Management

If you want to manage your pain better, here are 12 examples of SMART goals to help you out:

1. Create a Pain Diary

SMART Goal: I’ll aim to create a pain diary to track and record my daily pain levels over the next four months. I will use this information to help me better understand my pain and learn which techniques work best to help manage it.

  • Specific: This goal is explicit as it states the person wants to create a pain diary.
  • Measurable: Monitor your progress by tracking your pain levels over the four months.
  • Attainable: Having four months to complete the goal makes it realistic.
  • Relevant: Creating a pain diary will provide valuable insight into how different treatments are helping to manage the pain.
  • Time-based: You can meet this particular goal after four months.

2. Increase Physical Activity

SMART Goal: To improve my physical health and manage my chronic pain, I will increase my physical activity levels by 30 minutes three times a week for the four months ahead. I’ll also take a 10-minute walk daily to stay active and manage my pain effectively.

  • Specific: The goal states that you will increase physical activity by spending 30 minutes three times a week for four months.
  • Measurable: You can determine the amount of activity you do each week.
  • Attainable: By adding 10 minutes of activity daily, it will be possible to reach the 30-minute goal.
  • Relevant: Studies have shown that physical activity can help manage chronic pain.
  • Time-based: You can increase your physical activity level after four months.

3. Improve Sleep Quality

SMART Goal: I’ll improve my sleep quality by creating a regular nighttime routine and going to bed at the same time every night over the following three months. I will also limit my caffeine intake throughout the day and use natural methods like aromatherapy, diffuser oils, and exercise to help me wind down before bed.

  • Specific: This SMART goal outlines a precise strategy for improving sleep quality.
  • Measurable: Monitor the creation of a regular nighttime routine and bedtimes over three months, as well as the limitation of caffeine intake.
  • Attainable: Make sure you check off each action item previously listed above.
  • Relevant: This is suitable for chronic pain patients because it will help improve their overall quality of life. Plus, studies show that poor sleep can worsen chronic pain symptoms.
  • Time-based: This goal should be achieved over the three months ahead.

4. Establish Healthy Eating Habits

SMART Goal: I’ll strive to create and maintain a healthy eating regime tailored to my needs by the end of two months. That involves setting up meal plans with nutrient-rich foods and snacks and monitoring my progress to ensure I’m making positive strides.

  • Specific: The goal outlines the overall objective and the timeline.
  • Measurable: You can determine how well you adhere to your meal plans and what progress you make.
  • Attainable: Setting up meal plans and monitoring progress is realistic.
  • Relevant: This is appropriate as healthy eating habits are essential for managing chronic pain.
  • Time-based: There is a two-month deadline to meet this particular goal.
cook meals

5. Change Thought Patterns

SMART Goal: I want to reduce my negative thoughts about the pain by 50% in four months through daily positive affirmations and journaling. I hope to minimize the stress and worry I feel about my pain and focus more on positive thoughts instead.

  • Specific: Reduce negative thoughts about the pain by 50%.
  • Measurable: Evaluate your progress and measure how much negativity has been reduced.
  • Attainable: This is an achievable goal that can be pursued and should be manageable over a set amount of time.
  • Relevant: The statement relates to reducing stress and worry and focusing on positive thoughts.
  • Time-based: A timeline of four months is required for the goal.

6. Practice Relaxation Techniques

SMART Goal: To reduce my chronic pain, I will practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and guided imagery for at least 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week, for the following 8 months. I’ll also keep a log of my relaxation practices to track my progress and celebrate successes.

  • Specific: This statement is focused on practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and guided imagery.
  • Measurable: You can track your relaxation practices in a log and measure the time spent practicing.
  • Attainable: Regularly practicing these techniques should be achievable with commitment and dedication.
  • Relevant: These relaxation techniques can help reduce chronic pain levels.
  • Time-based: Eight months are needed to accomplish this goal.

7. Learn Self-Massage Strategies

SMART Goal: I will research and implement daily self-massage strategies for managing my pain. I want to ease my discomfort without depending on medications, and I will reach this goal by the end of two months.

  • Specific: This goal involves researching and implementing daily self-massage strategies.
  • Measurable: One can measure their progress in this goal by implementing self-massage strategies.
  • Attainable: This goal is feasible by dedicating time and effort to researching self-massage.
  • Relevant: Learning self-massage strategies is a great way to manage pain without medication.
  • Time-based: You should anticipate goal completion in two months.

8. Explore Acupressure Points

SMART Goal: I will explore and try out acupressure points to relieve my pain by the end of three months. I want to incorporate more holistic remedies into my routine and see if acupressure can relieve my chronic pain.

  • Specific: You plan to explore and use acupressure points to relieve your pain.
  • Measurable: This is measurable regarding the time you spend exploring and using acupressure points.
  • Attainable: This is definitely doable if you make time for it.
  • Relevant: Using acupressure points as an alternative to traditional pain management is directly pertinent to your overall goal of finding relief from chronic pain.
  • Time-based: You should aim to do this within three whole months.

9. Take Medication Properly

SMART Goal: I want to take medication for my pain as directed by my doctor and keep track of the results in a log every week for three months. This way, I can stay on top of my pain management and be aware of any changes.

  • Specific: Taking medication as prescribed by their doctor is clear.
  • Measurable: The person can look back on the log to see if they took the medication properly and track any changes.
  • Attainable: Following the doctor’s prescriptions should be achievable, especially with a detailed log.
  • Relevant: This goal is vital for the person’s pain management.
  • Time-based: You have a three-month time frame to reach the SMART goal.

10. Manage Stressors

SMART Goal: I’ll identify and reduce my pain triggers within the next three months by learning techniques that help me manage stress. I plan on practicing mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and meditation to better cope with pain.

  • Specific: You want to identify and reduce pain triggers by managing stress better.
  • Measurable: You can regularly check your progress in minimizing pain triggers.
  • Attainable: This is absolutely doable with intentional practice and effort.
  • Relevant: Managing stress is crucial in order to reduce pain triggers.
  • Time-based: Goal achievement should be met within the next three months.

11. Connect with Others

SMART Goal: To reduce my feelings of isolation, I will join a local support group for people with chronic pain and attend at least one meeting every month. I’ll better understand my physical and mental challenges while learning new coping strategies from others in a similar situation.

  • Specific: The goal is clearly defined and focuses on improving emotional well-being.
  • Measurable: You can track progress by counting the number of meetings attended.
  • Attainable: Joining a support group is doable and can be accomplished by researching local groups in your area.
  • Relevant: This goal relates to the overall well-being of people with chronic pain as it helps them build relationships and connect with a support network.
  • Time-based: This is an ongoing goal that you pursue on a monthly basis.

12. Consider Physical Therapy

SMART Goal: I want to seek physical therapy options to help me manage my chronic pain. In the following two months, I will research and meet with at least three physical therapists to determine the right solution.

  • Specific: The SMART goal outlines the action (seeking physical therapy options) and the deadline for completion.
  • Measurable: Measure progress through research, meetings, and feedback from physical therapists.
  • Attainable: This goal is achievable as long as the patient is willing to explore and seek new options.
  • Relevant: Physical therapy can help manage chronic pain in various ways and is worth considering.
  • Time-based: Two months is the required time frame to complete this target.

Final Thoughts

SMART goals can be a powerful tool in managing your pain. By setting clear, specific, achievable, realistic, and timely goals, you can take an active role in your self-care.

Consider consulting with a healthcare provider to ensure your goals are realistic and appropriate for your needs. Lastly, remember to reward yourself as you reach each milestone of your SMART goal journey.

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