Tips For Setting Smart Goals

Written by geordiejimb

Topics: Articles, Time Management

Goals, Goals, GoalsOne of the many traits that separate highly successful people from the crowd is the ability to set smart goals.

During my years as an Information Technology Business Analyst I worked extensively with clients on their I.T. related needs, capturing their system and project requirements, setting the goals, and forming the action plans necessary to achieve those goals.

During that time, I learned a few things about what makes a smart goal, and the intent of this article is to share those tips with you.


What Is A Goal?

A goal is really the amount of movement we wish to see in a particular area.

A goal might be as simple as ‘Increase Customer Satisfaction’ for a business, or something like ‘Lose weight’ for an individual.  Problem with setting goals like these is there’s no real definition there, no measurable target.

What is wrong with these goals?

With any goal, you need to be able to judge if you hit it or not, isn’t that kind of the point of setting it?

Neither of these goals has a date set, or any sort of measurement to judge against, so at what point are you going to try and decide if you met your goal, and how are you going to know if you met it, if you can’t measure it?


What Is A Smart Goal?

A smart goal takes our goal from above, and adds some specifics, some metrics we can measure and track, and there is an S.M.A.R.T acronym we can use to help ensure we set smart goals.

S.M.A.R.T. Acronym:

S – Specific: We need to know precisely what we are trying to achieve, and have specific clear objectives.

M – Measurable: We need to be able to measure how well we are fulfilling those objectives.

A – Actionable/Agreed To: A goal should be something you can form a plan of action to achieve, and be agreed to by all parties involved.  Including others in your goal setting also helps you maintain Accountability.

R –Realistic: Dreams are all well and good and important to us, but to set a goal it needs to be something that can actually be realistically done.  There is no point having a goal of ‘morphing into a fire-breathing cartoon dragon’.  A goal needs to be something appropriate under the circumstances, something that can actually be done.

T – Time bound: A smart goal has a deadline, a cutoff point at which you aim to have hit the specific metrics indicated above.


Let’s see how this acronym helps us out by rewriting the Personal Goal example:

Poorly written goal: ‘Lose weight’


Let’s make this into a smart goal:

S: Let’s get specific, how much weight do you plan to lose?  Say 10lbs?

M: Can we measure 10lbs? Absolutely!

A: Can we make a plan of action to lose weight?  Try a new diet, or add an exercise routine, job done.

R: Is losing 10lbs a realistic goal?  10 lbs can be whatever number is appropriate based on your own size and weight etc, so in this case it is realistic.

T: When are we going to lose this weight by?  January 31st sounds good to me, that’s about 6 weeks at 1 to 2 pounds a week.

Well written goal: ‘I will lose 10lbs by January 31st next year’.


This goal is now specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.  You know what the goal really is, and when it needs to be done by.  You can measure the outcome and determine if the goal was met, or not.

Let me know if you found this post helpful in the comments below, and feel free to share this with your friends!