What are SMART goals, why are they needed and how to set them correctly


In the modern world, where everyone strives to achieve their goals, it is important to have a clear action plan and guidelines. SMART goals help with this. Let’s explain what it is


  • What is this
  • Criteria
  • How to bet
  • Examples
  • Common problems when setting SMART goals

What are SMART goals

  • SMART is a methodology that helps you define specific and measurable goals. The author of the method is considered to be strategic planning expert George Doran . The abbreviation SMART consists of the first five letters of English words:
  • S specific (specific);
  • M easurable (measurable);
  • A chievable (attainable);
  • R elevant (relevant);
  • T ime-Bound (limited in time).

Pros of SMART goals

SMART goals are one of the key elements of planning. Ctujlyz ‘ne concept is used not only in management, but also for personal goal setting. Let’s look at the main advantages.

  1. Clarifies and specifies. SMART allows you to more clearly formulate the necessary tasks.
  2. It helps you focus on key priorities . When setting SMART goals, a person or company needs to decide which goal is most important and achievable at the moment.
  3. Increases motivation. When goals are formulated specifically, it is easier to notice the first successes on the way to them. Visible progress increases motivation and allows you to move forward.
  4. Simplifies the planning process. A time limit allows you to focus resources on the most significant areas.

Disadvantages of SMART goals

  1. Lack of creativity. This approach focuses exclusively on specific, measurable and realistic goals. This can limit creative thinking and the ability to strive for more ambitious projects.
  2. Requires certain skills and experience. Lack of practice leads to mistakes at the goal setting stage.
  3. May be too standard and generic . In such cases, details are not taken into account. As a result, the likelihood of missed deadlines and conflicts increases.

SMART goal criteria

Setting SMART goals is based on five criteria. Let’s look at the example of a personal goal: “I want to get in shape.”


The goal must be clearly stated. Instead of a vague phrase, the goal should sound like this: “I plan to work out at the gym for at least 30 minutes three times a week, reduce my calorie intake by 15% daily, and increase my non-workout activity. All these actions will help me lose 7 kg in three months.”


The goal must have specific units of measurement. For example, “the main goal is to lose 7 kg in three months.”


It is important to consider the real resources you have to achieve your goal. “I have a gym membership, time for evening walks and planning my diet, and the financial means to undergo the necessary medical tests.”


It is important to understand how solving a given problem will help achieve global, strategic goals. If you don’t have a clear understanding of the benefits, you’ll just be wasting your time\. For example: “I want to lead a healthy lifestyle to improve my physical and internal well-being.”

Limited time

You need to be clear about when you can get the desired result. For example: “I will lose 7 kg in three months by June 1, 2024.”

How to set SMART goals

To use SMART as effectively as possible, avoid mistakes and ensure goal achievement, goal setting should be carried out in five stages, advises the author of the book on setting and achieving goals, Arthur Luck.

State your goal

To specifically formulate a goal, at the first stage it is necessary to answer questions that will help identify the problem itself and clarify the desired result:

  • What don’t you like about the current situation?
  • What needs to be done, improved/corrected/changed?
  • What result do you need to get?

Adjust your goal depending on the situation

At the second stage, it is important to understand whether the chosen goal will really improve the situation. To assess whether the chosen goal is relevant to the current situation or whether its achievement is better postponed until better times, you should answer the questions:

  • Why is it important to do this?
  • What will change after achieving the goal?
  • Doesn’t the achievement of the chosen goal contradict or interfere with other tasks?

Assess the achievability of the goal

The next step evaluates the achievability of the selected goal. This will allow you to correctly draw up an action plan in the future and adequately estimate the time required to achieve the goal. To do this you need to answer the following questions:

  • Are the necessary resources available (finance, time, personnel, knowledge, experience, information, etc.)?
  • If resources are insufficient, where can they be replenished, and how much time and/or money will this require?
  • What negative circumstances can prevent you from achieving your goal?
  • What is the likelihood of negative circumstances occurring?
  • How can you avoid/minimize the impact of negative circumstances?

Determine realistic time frames for achievement

Next, the time it will take to achieve the goal is determined. To plan your time correctly, you should answer the following questions:

  • By what time should I get the result?
  • How long can achievement of the goal be delayed if negative factors influence?
  • Is there a time reserve in case of negative circumstances?

Decide how you will track progress

The last stage is to determine metrics that will reflect progress in achieving the goal and the final result:

  • What metrics can be used to measure progress and the final goal?
  • Which of the possible metrics is better to choose and why?
  • How often should you track progress?
  • What metric values ​​will indicate that the goal has been achieved?

“No matter how deeply the goal is developed, the possibility of force majeure always remains. For this reason, it is important to be able to adjust both individual indicators and update the entire goal taking into account actual changes in circumstances.

Proper preparation and use of the SMART method will allow you not only to set a corporate or personal goal, but also to lay a reliable foundation for success in achieving it,” explained Arthur Luck.

Examples of SMART goals

The founder of the consulting company Yard.Consulting, Elena Yard, shared examples of goals set according to the SMART system in business.

Example 1: “Increase sales of brand X in Russia by 25% by the end of 2024.”

The specificity of the goal is determined by indicating the percentage of growth, sales region and brand name. The goal is time-limited and can be measured using company sales statistics.

Achievability can be determined by company specialists. For example, a brand has received the necessary level of investment to increase sales. The goal is significant because it is directly related to business performance.

Example 2: “Introduce company X’s products in quantity Y to the top 10 key retail chains by July 2024.”

The specificity of the goal is confirmed by indicating the number of positions and the list of networks. The goal has a clear deadline and can be measured by checking the shipment of goods. The achievability of the goal can be assessed by a sales specialist. The goal is significant, since distribution to key networks is of great importance for the company.

Example 3. “Achieve a 51% level of knowledge about product X among the 25-35 year old audience three years after launch.”

The specificity of the goal is confirmed by indicating the target audience and the brand name. The goal is time limited. Can be measured using a survey. Achievability is determined by company specialists.

For example, the company will allocate the necessary amount of investment to achieve the target. The goal is significant, since the level of consumer knowledge about the product has a direct correlation with the level of sales of the product.

Common problems when setting SMART goals

Experts and current businessmen have identified the most common problems that arise when formulating goals and proposed solutions to overcome them.

Not meeting criteria

The main problems when setting SMART goals arise with the criteria of achievability and relevance, since they depend solely on the knowledge, experience and beliefs of the person setting the goal, said Arthur Luck. The subjectivity of these factors carries the risk of not achieving the set goal, even if its formulation is specific, measurable and has a time limit.

“For example, an entrepreneur now earns ₽10 million a year, but sets a goal for next year of ₽1 billion. It cannot be said that the goal is unattainable; one day he can really achieve such figures. But after digitizing the process of achieving the goal, it becomes clear that this will take more than one year.

This can cause a drop in motivation, and the person will stop moving towards the goal altogether. To avoid such a situation, you need to set more realistic goals based on current indicators,” recommends Elena Yard.

Lack of task distribution

Another common problem is related to the incorrect distribution of tasks when achieving a goal. For example, a businessman has established that he wants to achieve certain indicators within three years. But the goal was not decomposed – not broken down into step-by-step stages.

As a result, the process of achieving a goal becomes chaotic and unpredictable. To avoid this situation, you need to write down SMART goals, for example, for every month. This will allow you to record intermediate results and see how you are getting closer to your overall goal, explains Yard.

Long formulation process

Often, managers formulate goals for a long time and painstakingly, and after they achieve the desired formulation, they work on it for months or years. It is recommended not to forget that planning, including using SMART goals, must be flexible, which means you must always be ready to make adjustments based on new information received, summed up the Deputy General Director of the SEO company Skobeev and Partners Margarita Bazhenova.


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