What are SMART Goals?
SMART goals describe a specific method for goal setting. The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. These criteria are designed to ensure that goals are clear, reachable, and trackable.What is each of the letters of the SMART acronym stand for?
The acronym stands for S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic, and T-Time-bound. Let's look in a more detailed way at each one of the components:
Goals should be written with clarity to indicate what you intend to do.
Goals should be qualifiable so that you have actual data that you have met your objectives.
Goals should be attainable; they should stretch you little enough that you feel challenged but are well-defined enough for you to achieve them.
Goals must be achievable and realistic with available resources.
Goals should have a well-defined schedule, including a start and finish date.
Benefits of SMART Goals
The benefits of SMART goals are obvious for someone who is using them often. In a simple way, you switch from vague to brilliant. However, the results will be very impressive for someone new that implements SMART goals in their day-to-day activities. Take a simple example.
- Not-so-smart goal: Keep our social media accounts updated.
- SMART goal: Update our Twitter/Facebook/Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts 3 times per week with Stories, Stats, and Best Practices about our industry. I will ask our team managers to provide fresh content every Friday for the next 3 months.
In this way, because of implementing smart goals in your workflow, you will leverage the following benefits:
- Clarity: They provide a clear understanding of the steps needed to achieve the goal.
- Trackability: They are measurable, allowing you to check your progress.
- Achievability: They are realistic and attainable, preventing discouragement.
- Focus: They provide direction, helping to keep you focused on the end goal.
- Motivation: Achieving each step can build momentum and increase motivation.
How to write SMART Goals?
When your manager asked to submit your quarterly goals to your performance tracking platform, he referred to submitting SMART goals. We have some questions to help you make your goals address each of the 5 letters of the acronym.
1. Write the initial Goal
Write your initial goal in a basic way. Don't worry about it not being fully SMART; we will cover these details in the next section.
2. Make the goal Specific
The goal should be unambiguous. It should explicitly state what is to be accomplished.
You will address this component by answering these questions:
- What exactly do I want to achieve?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
Other experts highlight that within the specific section, you're answering the five Ws questions: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
3. Make the goal Measurable
The goal should have concrete specifications for measuring progress and determining when it has been met.
Essential questions to help you quantify your goal:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
4. Make the goal Achievable
Given available resources, knowledge, and time, the goal should be challenging yet achievable.
To make a goal achievable, answer these questions:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- What are the logical steps I should take?
5. Make the goal Realistic
The goal should be realistic and aligned with overall objectives. It should stretch abilities but provide a reasonable expectation of achievement.
Reflect on the following question:
- Given the resources and constraints, can I realistically achieve this goal?
- Why do I setup this goal now?
6. Make the goal Time-bound
The goal should have a specific timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency. Deadlines help focus efforts.
Ask yourself these questions to make the goal timely:
- What can I do today?
- What can I do in the next 7 days?
- What can I do six weeks/months from now?
In summary, SMART goals are clearly defined, have quantifiable measures, are possible but challenging, relevant to broader aims, and are bounded by time constraints. Following the SMART framework helps create effective, meaningful goals with a higher chance of successful completion.
Tip: We expand on how to set goals with a 7-step framework that you can use if you want to be more efficient.
SMART Goals Template
We are fans of templates and like to have one for setting goals. In this one, we have one section for each of the 5 SMART components and the questions that will help you professionally address the primary goal. We have shared a Word version and a printable PDF that you can download free of charge.
|Specific||What exactly do I want to achieve? Why? Who is involved? Where is it located?|
|Measurable||How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?|
|Achievable||How can I accomplish this goal? What are the logical steps I should take?|
|Realistic||Given the resources and constraints, can I realistically achieve this goal?|
|Time-bound||When? What can I do today? What can I do in the next seven days? What can I do six weeks/months from now?|
Download our worksheet to help you define your SMART goals PDF version
SMART Goals Examples
Here are 10 examples across different departments and types of organizations:
SMART Goals for Marketing Teams
|Goal||Increase website traffic by 25% over the next quarter.|
|Specific||Increase the number of unique visitors to our website.|
|Measurable||Achieve a 25% increase in traffic.|
|Achievable||Through SEO optimization and targeted ad campaigns.|
|Realistic||The increase in budget to the add campaigns will lead to more traffic.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this over the next quarter.|
SMART Goals for Sales Teams
|Goal||Boost sales revenue by 15% in the next six months.|
|Specific||Increase sales revenue.|
|Measurable||Achieve a 15% increase in traffic.|
|Achievable||By introducing new sales strategies and improving sales team training.|
|Realistic||The goal is according in line with the annual sales growth.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this in the next six months|
SMART Goals for Customer Development Teams
|Goal||Increase customer retention rate by 15% in the next two quarters.|
|Specific||Increase customer retention rate.|
|Measurable||Achieve a 10% increase.|
|Achievable||By improving product/service quality and customer service.|
|Realistic||The increase from 10% to 15% is realistic.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this in the next six months|
SMART Goals for Product Teams
|Goal||Launch a new product feature by Q3 that improves user retention by 10%.|
|Specific||Develop and launch a new product feature that has the highest priority in the roadmap.|
|Measurable||Improve user retention by 10%.|
|Achievable||Based on user feedback and analysis.|
|Realistic||The feature is not an addition to the current product, and there is enaugh manpower to focus on the goal.|
|Time-bound||Complete by end of Q3.|
SMART Goals for HR Teams
|Goal||Reduce employee turnover rate by 20% over the next year.|
|Specific||Decrease employee turnover rate.|
|Measurable||Achieve a 20% reduction.|
|Achievable||By improving employee engagement and satisfaction.|
|Realistic||In the next 365 days a series of changes will be implemented, basedo on the results of the employee surveys, and leadership support.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this goal over the next year.|
SMART Goals for Customer Support Teams
|Goal||Improve customer satisfaction score to 85% over the next quarter.|
|Specific||Increase customer satisfaction score.|
|Measurable||Achieve a score of 85%.|
|Achievable||By enhancing support training and implementing customer feedback.|
|Realistic||Increasing from 80% to 85% with support from the developers is achievable.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this over the next quarter.|
SMART Goals for Startups
|Goal||Secure $2M in Series A funding in the next 12 months.|
|Specific||Obtain Series A funding by meeting with 100 investors interested about our industry, stage and geography|
|Achievable||Through effective business, financial planning and networking.|
|Realistic||Growth metrics of our company are similar to other companies in the industry that already raised series A.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this in the next 12 months.|
SMART Goals for Non-Profits and Charities
|Goal||Raise $500,000 in donations for our annual campaign by year's end.|
|Specific||Increase fundraising for our annual campaign.|
|Measurable||Reach $500,000 in donations.|
|Achievable||Through a strategic fundraising campaign.|
|Realistic||By engaging new donnors to our fundraising campaign we will be able to deliver our annual program.|
|Time-bound||Achieve this by the end of the year.|
Tip: If you're interested in additional smart goals for work, we expand on this topic and provide you with 10 additional professional goals you can use within your business.
SMART Goals Tips
If you have written your goals in the SMART way, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, 80% of the job is already done, however, if you want to be an expert at working with SMART goals, review these tips:
- Create your list of goals. A good list should have 5-7 goals. If you make a longer list, you might feel they are impossible to realize
- Share your goals with your manager and coworkers. They can tell you if you're too ambitious or easygoing with your objectives. Additionally, they might tell you what obstacles you might encounter and how to overcome them. Sharing goals builds accountability and support.
- Write goals down. Documenting goals cements your commitment and allows you to revisit and revise them.
- Use goal-setting platforms. You might use a goal-tracking platform to list all your goals and collaborate with your colleagues.
- Review and adjust goals regularly. If you see your goal list daily/weekly, you will identify where you stand, and if you're using it for work-related purposes, know if you're advancing or if something is blocking progress. Update goals to reflect changing priorities and circumstances.
- Break big goals into smaller steps. Steps that are achievable in the short term will add up to big accomplishments.
- Prioritize goals. Focusing on one or two critical goals at a time increases your chance of success.
- Reward progress and achievement. Celebrate milestones to goals as well as attaining the final goal.
FAQ SMART Goals
What Does SMARTER Goals Mean?
SMARTER is an extended version of the SMART goal-setting strategy. The additional "E" stands for "Evaluate," reminding us to check on the progress of our goals regularly and adjust if necessary. The "R" stands for "Relevant," i.e., your goal should be consistent with your overall goals and beliefs.
What is the Origin of SMART Goals?
The acronym SMART was originally used in November 1981 in a paper by George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, published in Management Review. The paper, titled "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives," discusses the difficulty of setting objectives and offers the SMART criteria as a solution.
Download the S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives essay