The secret to being SMART

SMART goals is a term you've probably heard before, but in practice what does it really mean? In this article we look at each element of SMART and how to write an effective objective.

SMART is the mnemonic acronym given the framework - widely attributed to both Drucker (1951) and Doran, (1981) - for successfully setting goals and objectives.

Firstly, let us address why people often don't reach their goals. Without a clear framework goals are merely hopes and wishes, lacking plan or purpose and therefore often never achieved. The problem with hopes and wishes is that the accountability is not ours, the chance of it happening is reliant on the universe aligning, and if it doesn't happen.......well, it wasn't your fault was it?

Having a clearly defined goal maps your pathway, step by step, to success. Without those stepping stones keeping you on track you're not going to reach your target.

Objectives are SMART if they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. More recently this has been extended to SMART-ER with Evaluate and Review.

Let's explore what each of these headings mean.


Consider whether it is clear what the objective means.

Who - needs to be involved

What - you are trying to accomplish, what needs to happen

Where - if location is relevant

Why - the reason for the goal, company or personal advancement

Your goal should state clearly what is required. Words like "improve", "increase", or "decrease" are vague ideas, but not specific actions required to accomplish the goal.

Examples of direct language for actions are "analyse, create, design, implement".


Ask yourself how will you know if anything has changed? How will you know when you've achieved your goal? What will success look like and what metrics will you use to track your progress? You can use both quantitative (financial savings /sales, productivity results) and/or qualitative (surveys /testimonials). As you consider what measures you can apply to your goal you may be able to identify milestones - particularly if it's going to take several months to complete.


What will it take to accomplish the goal, and do you have all the resources and skills you'll need? What will it take to get everything you need? Do you have everything at your disposal, or are there steps you must take first? This may develop into another goal which must be achieved beforehand.


Does this goal align itself with the broader goals of the business? If it doesn't is it going to contradict the main aims of the organisation? You will need to consider if it's not relevant should you be doing it?


All tasks needs to have a timeline for completion - your goal needs to have a deadline. It may have several deadlines as you can assign deadlines to milestones you need to reach in order to achieve your overall goal.

If you're new to goal setting in a structured way, all this can seem like it's a lot to take on board, so we've put together a goal setting template to make it flow a little easier. With a little practice you'll be writing achievable goals with ease.

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Whilst every care has been taken in compiling this information, My Office Fairy Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions and the information is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.

If you need support with anything discussed above, or any other aspect of your business, My Office Fairy are here to help so just get in touch.

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