The SMART strategy is one of the most well-known, time-tested approaches when it comes to reaching your goals, but you’ll need to go beyond simply writing SMART goals to ensure the process goes smoothly and is as effective as possible. Set yourself up for success by giving your goals a little TLC and you can use your current progress to set goals in the future.
How to set personal and professional SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. A good meeting is often an interactive, personal, and enjoyable experience. We want the attendees to be more engaged in the conversation and leave feeling more fulfilled. This can’t be done without a formal structure built for success and an interactive environment.
Achieving your goals without a plan isn’t just difficult, it’s unlikely—that’s where setting SMART goals come in. Research shows that people who write down their objectives, end up accomplishing a lot more than those who don’t.
The best of us still need to put our ideas on paper or some type of document before starting a project. Studies show that holding ourselves accountable and making public commitments can really push us to follow through.
Full disclosure, many companies are still struggling to find the right balance in aligning individual, team, and organizational goals. In most cases this leads to minimal success for all parties.
Luckily, there’s a goal-setting framework for that. In this article, we offer a detailed definition of the SMART goals framework, along with numerous SMART goals examples designed to help your team effectively plan for results.
History of SMART Goals
There’s some degree of debate around the origin of SMART goals. “Management by objectives” is what Peter Drucker came up with, and it started in 1954. (The term SMART was first used about 30 years after that).
Published in 1981, George T. Doran’s article in Management Review drew on philosopher John Locke’s theory of goal setting to explain the SMART goals framework—and he built a compelling case for treating goals dif.
We can use SMART goals as a framework for our objectives to align our work and track how successful it’s been.
What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
We all want to improve the important areas of our life, whether that’s fitness, home ownership or increasing your skills. Take time to think about what you want and make a plan for it. But the problem is that when we don’t define things enough, there’s always a risk for problems. Normally our goals are too vague and not specific to result in effective behaviors with the desired outcome.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. SMART goals not only keep you focused on the outcome but also help you realise if you’re in the right direction.
By focusing on what differentiates it from other goals, SMART goals are less ambiguous and are more likely to get done. The default framework is great to use with OKRs or other KPIs you’re already using for management.
Professional SMART goals examples
Simple (not smart) professional goals:
- Meet your fellow coworkers – and get to know them
- Refine cold calling strategy
- Come up with content ideas
- Update knowledge base
SMART professional goals:
- I usually eat lunch in the common dining area 2x per week.
- Before the meeting starts, discuss with attendees what the purpose of the meeting is – it’s really important
- Review all the cold calls you made that lead to a sale by the end of this quarter
- Figure out what you need content wise and start mapping it out by the end of this week
- Increase both the volume and quality of your knowledgebase articles by writing or updating two stories per week
Personal SMART goals examples
Simple (not smart) personal goals:
- Get in shape
- Save money
- Get a new job
- Eat healthier
- Get out more
SMART personal goals:
- Work out at least 3x per week
- Put 10% of your income into a savings account
- Spend a couple hours per week combing through postings and doing supplemental research to apply to postings
- Every night, prepare a side dish made out of vegetables to serve with the rest of your meal
- Try to arrange two social outings per month
The most important letter in SMART is the S–it stands for specific, and it’s one of the hallmarks of a goal worth working towards.
When a company assigns their sales team to close more deals, it isn’t surprising that the management wants to know how many more deals they should be looking for. They did all the math on what needs to get done each month in order to meet your yearly targets—and they got real, clear goals that won’t leave anyone guessing what they need to do.
When small goals are set to improve performance, the details are made explicitly clear and tailored to each individual’s needs. For example, if an employee is put on a performance improvement plan, they’re given specific directions on what they need to do to remain employed.
Sometimes it’s not about being perfect. Sometimes it’s just about knowing what to do and making it happen. That usually applies, but in less extreme scenarios or circumstances.
Examples of SMART goals that are Specific:
- Increase our traffic by 10% over the next 30 days
- Work your way up to $15,000 in quarterly sales by the end of this month
- To stay healthy and feel good, exercise for 30 minutes every day for 7 days straight
As management guru Peter Drucker famously said: “What gets measured gets done.” It’s true in general, but it is especially true when it comes to goal-setting. Measurability promotes accountability.
For example, writing a novel is something most people would love to do. But without taking the time to think about it first, it may not be as practical as you assumed.
SMART goals can help you break down really big projects into more manageable steps. They’re helpful for staying focused and reaching the finish line. A SMART goal if you want to write a novel might be to spend 1-2 hours each day writing 300 words for the next 6 months.
That’s just the thing, though. Not all goals require a master plan or numbers. The goal of a bi-weekly team meeting is to make sure project updates have been shared. If everyone shared their progress, the meeting went well.
Examples of SMART goals that are Measurable:
- LinkedIn followers will increase by 25% in the third quarter
- Increase your email click-through rate by 2% in the next 3 months
- Exercise for 30 minutes every day for the next 7 days
Attainable (but Ambitious)
Although most businesses don’t realize this, one of the main factors that determines whether or not your goals are reachable is your ability to attain those goals. Trying to do too much without thinking about whether you can actually achieve it will only lead to worse results. This kind of thinking hurts morale while failing in achieving goals.
On the other side, organizations that can accurately predict what’s possible are more likely to meet targets and have creativity across teams.
You shouldn’t forget about setting ambitious goals – you may depend on that in order to grow. But making the aspirational balanced with what’s probably going to happen is a good way to consistently succeed.
Examples of SMART goals that are ambitious (but attainable):
- Reach more people with our company newsletter and increase your email sign-ups by 10% every month
- I need to close $30,000 worth of sales by the end of next quarter
- You should train with weights for 1 hour 3 times every week
Relevant (and Realistic)
Metrics are important, but you can’t just focus on that. You need to take into account other factors that influence your ability to hit them too.
It’s important to have SMART goals that are both relevant to you as an individual, and shared with your team and business.
A good goal-setting process also needs to be backed by an understanding of your employees’ character, as without this you can end up with unrealistic expectations or bad behavior.
SMART goals need to be well-thought out before you start working on them. Reasonable, realistic, and resourceful goals will be more effective than ones that are impromptu.
Examples of SMART goals that are relevant and realistic:
- Check your email before the next blast
- “Get outside for at least 15 minutes every day during remote work weeks.”
- My 401(k) contributions increase by X% every time I receive a raise date
Time-bound (or Timely)
Deadlines make it easier to accomplish your goals. If you don’t have a deadline, then you are less likely to reach your objective in good time.
SMART goals let you set realistic deadlines without having to guess how long it’ll take you to complete each section of your goal. The time limit will determine how quickly the goal is reached.
Examples of SMART goals that are time-bound:
- Finish your competitive analysis so you can work on your new product launch which is happening on September 1
- Write 3 SEO articles
- Interview all candidates before the end of the month
Editable SMART Goals Template
If you’re looking for a free, editable SMART Goals template then below is an option that is available – it’s a Google Doc. When you’re working in a Google Doc, you can also download it as a Word doc or PDF, or print it from the File menu.
We choose Google Docs over Excel because you can use bullet points in a Google Doc. You can always copy the data from the cell into Excel or Google Sheets if that’s your preferred app.
Using SMART Goals to Manage Your Career
It’s important to set goals and use them throughout the work-day, especially at work. SMART goals are very useful for managing output, as well as your career.
On the other hand, if you’re a nurse (say, for example) setting a SMART goal is going to be more helpful. By figuring out their long-term and short-term professional goals, nurses can take some time every day to see how they’re doing and make changes when needed.
How to Write SMART Goals
When you aim to succeed, it’s vital that your objectives are rooted in reality.
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- Teams often have trouble meeting their goals because they don’t all have the same idea of what it means for the team to succeed.
- SMART goals are simple to follow and ensure your objectives are clear & achievable within a certain amount of time.
- Working through all the steps of creating a SMART goal can show you if your priorities or resources are out of line.
FAQ for SMART Goals
What are SMART goals?
The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Defining these parameters as they pertain to your goal helps ensure that your objectives are attainable within a certain time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, sets a clear timeline, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones.
What does SMART goals stand for?
SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
What are the 5 SMART goals?
SMART goals possess five characteristics: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.
What are examples of SMART goals?
Put an extra $500 towards a student loan with the highest interest rate to pay it off in 9 months.
How do you write a SMART goal?
Start by naming your specific goal. Then break down what you need to do to achieve it. Along the way, assess whether the goal is something you can actually achieve and make adjustments where necessary. Lastly, give your goal a due date based on how much time it will take.
What is the meaning of SMART goals?
SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
What are SMART goals examples for fitness?
Run three miles after work four times per week.
What are SMART goals examples for weight loss?
Reduce calorie intake by 20 percent for the next three months.
What are SMART goals examples for health?
Drink at least 10 glasses of water every day during the summer.
What are examples of bad SMART goals?
A bad SMART goal is any goal that isn’t specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Also known as “a goal.”
How do you know what is realistic?
Context (such as your available resources) and benchmarks (how long similar goals take on average).
How do you set a measurable goal?
Ask what needs to happen to satisfy the result you’re after. Make sure it’s something that you can attach a number to. If no number is possible, is it either true or false?
Are all goals measurable?
All SMART goals are measurable, whether the measure is a binary (yes/no) or explicitly quantitative. If you can’t measure it, get more specific about the goal.