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Is "SMART" your goal?

Knowing an effective target setting method is key to agile operations. We help you do this by introducing the SMART target system.

In our previous article we clarified the difference between goals and objectives. Now we'll help you set and achieve goals more effectively with SMART!


Most "I want to lose a few pounds I put on over the holidays" type goals are doomed to failure. Because they're not specific enough, they're not clear enough, we don't know if we've achieved success, and there's no timeframe.


SMART goal is not only important in setting a goal, but also in achieving it. (The SMART system can be used to set goals and objectives. In this article we will use the term goal for simplicity.)


SMART is an acronym for the following words:


S - Specific

M - Measurable

A - Achievable

R - Relevant

T - Time Stamped


How could the example sentence above be reworded to make it more motivating and achievable?


S: Specify, concretise


Instead of using vague terms, be as precise as possible (e.g. 5 kg instead of a few kilos).


M: Measurability


How will we know whether we have achieved the desired goal, i.e. whether we have succeeded? Once the goal is specific enough, the end point is easier to determine. Work on formulating the goal until you can see the end point clearly enough.

In this example, we can use a scale to get clear feedback on where we are in the process.


A: Achievability


The objective must be set in a way that is achievable, taking into account the current situation and realities. In the example above, there are two types of errors on this axis. 

1) The desired body weight is biologically impossible for a healthy body in relation to the given body height. 

2) The weight loss set is not possible in the time frame specified, or is not healthy and sustainable.

When setting goals, try to be realistic. So keep in mind the crucial role of the time factor (more on this below under T).


R: Relevant


The issue of relevant characteritics is often misunderstood when defining objectives. It is not enough to ask whether we would really be happy if the goal were achieved. It is much more important to be clear about the reasons behind the achievement of the goal. The reason is usually related to the way we want to feel (or the way we want to eliminate a current feeling of inadequacy). In the example: we want to feel healthier, lighter, younger, more attractive. If the goal includes the desired state, it is more motivating. Plus, if in the process of achieving it, laziness starts to get the better of you, the underlying reasoning behind it can give you the support to keep going.


T: Time stamped


Without a start and end point, implementation is easily pushed back to an uncertain "tomorrow", making success impossible. If goals are given a time limit, they are also given a priority, which significantly increases the activity level.

So, the goal "I want to lose a few kilos I put on over the holidays" in SMART terms looks something like "I will lose 5 kilos by February 15th to feel healthier and prettier".


Try it!


The article and a free sample goal-setting tool are available here.


If you need help with this, contact us!


This article was written by Zsuzsa Danka


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