SMART system of goal setting

This article is from the website Coaching Life. Jayne Morris who runs Visionboard workshop had sent this to me. She is also a group leader of the West London chapter of MTLTS

Disclaimer – this is not written by me but is taken from the above link

Use the SMART system to set and achieve any goal

Perhaps our very human essence is oriented towards the achievement of goals. Human endeavour measured by some of its greatest achievements.

Sending a man to the moon, great inventions like the airplane, or the advances in medical science. What underpins all of these successes is that they had to be imagined in the first place, the steps to achievement had to be planned and the vision holders were persistent.

What do you want to achieve from your life? Without a set of key goals life can become a case of living randomly from day-to-day.

We believe that the SMART system can be used successfully to help you achieve any goal.

A SMART goal would need to satisfy the following components. It should be…





Time bound

Any goal whether a small one en-route to achieving a key goal or indeed a key goal should be SMART.

Specific – Setting “exact” goals

What precisely do you want to achieve? I want to be a millionaire is not really a goal it’s actually an outcome of a goal. Check that you objectives are specific and not just outcomes. I want to achieve a promotion; I want to learn to play the piano. Lets look at how these specific goals might break down.

Measurable – Using goals that can be measured

So you want to learn the piano…good! To what level? What does measured success look like? Are you looking to play at the Albert Hall or achieve a grade 3 study level enabling you to play at a reasonable level? How would you know that you were en-route to a promotion and how would you identify this? You will need to break down the measurable elements.

Achievable – Can you actually get there?

OK so you want to learn to be a concert pianist but you are working 50 hours a week, and have 2 young children to care for. By ensuring your goals are achievable we are not suggesting that you seek to downgrade them so that they become easy to achieve, instead you should sense check what you are aiming to achieve against other demands on your time and talent.

Realistic – Are you being honest with yourself?

Is it realistic to learn the piano to concert pianist level? Is it realistic to target yourself to run a mufti-million pound corporation? Do you have the right personality, can you manage the pressure and worry when things are not quite going to plan. This is the essence of realistic.

Time bound

You should be seeking to set time frames for the various stages of your goal. Unless you build these parameters into your goals you could end up in a state of procrastination and end up more frustrated and un-focused than you were before you defined the goal on the first place. Take the example of the promotion.

Having assessed whether or not the time frame is realistic you might conclude that you intend to achieve this goal within 18 months. What happens if it doesn’t happen for any reason? Arguably you should give some thoughts to the contingent goal?

Perhaps you can think of obvious examples of SMART goal setting that you can use in your life plan today.


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