S.M.A.R.T. criteria for setting personal objectives. Examples

For instance, a goal defined as:

I will develop the ability to be self-oriented.

it is goal, but not a SMART one! In the next 30 minutes I will explain what is a SMART goal and how to write one. At the end of this article I will provide several SMART goals.

The S.M.A.R.T. idea for defining goals appeared for the first time in November 1981 in a paper called “There’a a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives.”

The letters in S.M.A.R.T. have different means according to different “authors”. For example, S could be specific or strategic, M motivating or measurable. A means agreed, attainable or achievable. R could be reasonable, realistic, or result-based and T comes from trackable, time-based, time-frame or even time-bound.

Usually, the mean for each letter in S.M.A.R.T. acronym has different meaning, according to the each vision. And yet, in the most cases their meanings are as follow:

  • S. – specific
  • M. – measurable
  • A. – achievable
  • R. – relevant (I prefer result-oriented)
  • T. – time based

As a definition,

S.M.A.R.T. goals are those goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based.


A specific goal is a goal in which you stress what you need to accomplish, rather than what you might to accomplish. Your goal definition must be clear and unambiguous. defines a specific goal as the one which responds to the five “W” questions: what, why, who, where, which:

  • what do I need/want to accomplish?
  • why I choose this goal?
  • who is involved?
  • (where?) identify a location
  • which is the purpose of my goal, which is the benefit of accomplishing this goal?


Measurable criterion refers to the fact the goal must be tracked and assessed. In wikipedia words, a measurable goal answers to the following questions:

  • how much?
  • how many?
  • how will I know when it is accomplished?


The Achievable criterion stresses the importance of the goals that are attainable and realistic.

Relevant / Result-Oriented

The Relevant criterion is about the importance of choosing a goal that matters, and also to be a realistic one.

Time Based

Your goal should have a target date because only a commitment to a deadline helps you focus all your efforts on completion of the goal on, or before the due date! This is what the time based criterion is stressing.

Typically, a goal created around this criterion responds to the question: when will I complete my goal?

Example of SMART goals

For a seller an example of a SMART goals could be: My main goal is to encourage the customer to purchase the product (name the product here), thus increasing sales by 15% over the next two months. While my secondary goal is to encourage the possible customers to sign up to our newsletter and follow us on social media, thus increasing brand awareness by 25% over next two months.

For a sportsman involved in an archery sport, a SMART goal could be defined as: I want to be better at shooting. Therefore in the next three months I will increase my shooting accuracy to 92%. I will spend 45 minutes practicing shooting before each training sessions, and take at least 13 shooting per game.

An application developer can define his goals as:

  • I will identify a weakness area in my technical domain and in the next three month I will read two books in order to improve my experience on that topic.
  • During my entire involvement in the project, I proactively monitor the applications and systems that I manage. So I can address the problem even before they are about to occur. Doing this, will improve the SLAs around increase service availability, minimize reaction and resolution time.
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