Establish SMART Goals

Establish SMART Goals

Goals are accomplishments, not activities. Whether your goal is performance based, developmental or a special project, you want them to be SMART. SMART refers to a mnemonic that gives criteria for creating goals and objectives. This idea was presented by George T. Doran in the Management Review – November 1981 issue. There are many variations for the meaning behind each letter.


S = Specific – A simplistic clearly defined target or area of improvement. There is a clear focus on the six W’s – What to accomplish, When to complete it, Who is involved, Why it is needed, Where to do it and Which requirements and constraints.

No so SMART: “Run more.”
SMART: “Run a 5K within 30 minutes within 8-10 weeks, so I can complete a race.”

M = Measurable – Refers to the ability to establish tangible evidence that the goal has been accomplished. How will it be measured? This allows you to measure progress against the goal, track any milestones and know when it is done.

Not so SMART: “Lose Weight.”
SMART: “Lose 15 pounds by the date of my wedding, so that I can fit into my wedding dress.

A = Attainable – A goal should be achievable. Is it possible? When it is achievable, it will motivate those that are involved, yet there is the opposite effect when it can not be achievable. Proper motivation will help you develop the skills necessary to meet the goal.

Not so SMART: “Become a paralegal”
SMART: “Obtain the paralegal certification within 18 months to pursue a career as a paralegal.”

R = Relevant – Make sure your goals are focused on the matter at hand. This is critical for your ability to achieve the goal. Goal with no relevant focus tend to weaken in support over time. Why is it important? Remember that desire is a great motivator. Don’t forget to consider the current conditions and / or realities of your current state. These things can act as anchors or constraints to your goals.

Not so SMART: “Improve my grades.”
SMART: “Attend the free tutoring session 2-3 times per week to improve Math grade from a B to an A.”

T = Time-Bound – Always identify a definitive target date for completion and/or the frequency of the associated actions of the goal. This specifies when the result will be achieved. This helps you to focus on completing the goal by the due date. It will establish a sense of urgency or simply spark that fire.

Not so SMART: “Get the oil changed.”
SMART: “Get an oil change every 3 months or 3000 miles”

Here’s some examples:

Not so SMART: “Improve my knowledge of Agile”
SMART: “Take 2 Scrum Essentials courses from BeardedEagle during the first Quarter 2014 and apply the concepts in my current role.”

Not so SMART: “Send out summer camp invitations”
SMART: “Distribute the summer camp invitations by 11/12/2003 to provide enough time to determine the number of previous campers that will attend summer camp 2014.”

Not so SMART: “Lift more weight”
SMART: “Attend personal fitness coaching session once a week over the next six month to get tips from a professional trainer to apply my daily workout routine.”

By taking these steps you will turn those muddy not so clear goals into a super-powered actionable goals  that drive results. Have fun with you SMART goals.


Reference: Doran, George T. “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.” Management Review, Nov 1981, Volume 70 Issue 11.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.