Why SMARTER goals always win the day

set and reach goal concept

I was never a fan of goal-setting.  I studiously avoided writing out goals for my annual performance plan and when it came to that time of year for review, usually the dreaded first few days of January, I just said to myself, well I know what I want to do and that’s enough.  Sometimes it was.  More than often, of course, it wasn’t and disappointment set in, fast.

I came across the SMART format for addressing goals many years ago when I was developing my first leadership training programme, and of course, under the area of time management, it made a lot of sense.  Since then I have gone through years of honing and developing material and support, in training and coaching, so the SMART method is now, for me, SMARTER.  If you really want to achieve change in your life and have goals you always felt you needed to reach, but never got there, this really could make the difference for you. You can also use it to help others set and reach their goals, which is pretty useful, especially in a leadership role.  There are many variations out there on what SMART stands for (they all send the same messages albeit in different ways), for me SMARTER goals are:

S – specific – specific, clear, written in the present tense

M – measurable – what will it look like and feel like when achieved, what are the expected outcomes, can they be measured

A – agreed –  agreed with yourself: challenging yourself  on whether they are totally your own goals or the wishes of someone else; how motivated out of 10 are you to achieving them, you need to be at least an 8 out of 10 or the will to achieve is not there

R – realistic: have you tested out all the options (see my previous blog post on GROWing your own goals for help with this) to see which ones are the most realistic and attainable; have you examined the obstacles and challenges you are likely to meet along the way and how to overcome these

T – timebound:  with specific milestones and deadlines set in time

Through my experience in coaching, I have come to learn that two more add-ons to the well-known SMART format make a huge difference:

E – ethical: examining whether the goals will affect anyone else in your life, who else is involved, how ethical are the goals, do they sit well with your values

R – rewarded: I firmly believe that all goals once attained (and also milestones along the way) need to be encouraged to flourish; so celebrate your successes and reward yourself when you get there.

SMARTER goals get done, it’s that simple. 

Anne Marie

Anne Marie Crowley, based in Cork, is a free-lance Coach and Trainer in the field of behavioural change for individuals and business.  Anne Marie is the founder of Crowley Personal and Business Change.

10 thoughts on “Why SMARTER goals always win the day”

  1. Dr. F. Kwadade-Cudjoe

    Anne, I support you totally. Adding ‘E and R’ to make ‘SMART’ become ‘SMARTER’ for goal setting can be defensible both in academic and professional, and also in theory and practice. Dr. F. Kwadade-Cudjoe

    1. Thank you Anne for sharing. I am a supporter for the addition of ER in the acronym. Goal setting is the basis of work and leadership growth in every level of of company/org performance. The best achievement is the when individual goals are aligned with the team’s and company/org goals. Working towards the achievement of set goals flares up the glue of each team and work environment – communication. Adding ER complements the mosaic of goal setting process/content and its end result – towards higher levels of staff engagement. Thanks, again.

    2. Thank you so much for your comment. I am so so sorry not to have replied, I never received a notification so did not realise you had given me such good feedback. Thank you again. Anne Marie

  2. Barbara harrison

    Love it! I have been using the upside down version of SMART goals with some clients, specific, measurable, resonant and thrilling !!

    1. Hello there Barbara. I never received a notification that you had given me this reply – I am intrigued as to the upside down version of SMART, can you elaborate? Thank you again. Anne Marie

  3. Well done Anne, great approach to a tried and tested methodology. I always find that the key to its success is the way you choose to measure the results, making sure they are a true reflection of what you want to achieve and not just the easiest.
    Particularly like your “E” and “R” and intend to use this next time.
    Thanks for the article.
    Steve Trodden

    1. Dear Steve, I am honoured that you are going to use my ER addition to SMART, thank you. I am so so sorry not to have replied to your comment all those years ago, I never received a notification so did not realise you had posted it. Thank you again. Anne Marie

  4. Olaniyi Oladotun

    SMART is an apposite format for goal setters. Thanks for sharing Anne Marie

    1. Olaniyi, thank you so much for your comment. I am so so sorry not to have replied before now, better late than never I hope, I never received a notification so did not realise you had commented on the post. Thank you again. Anne Marie

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