Wednesday, 19 December 2018


I have written before about where SMART goals come from (here and here), but I have just realised that I didn't ever write an article detailing what SMART goals are.

So, ahead of yet another new year where many will be setting new resolutions, I thought I would quickly outline SMART goals, as per Professor George Doran's original 1981 model. The idea is that if we set goals with ALL of the following five characteristics, we are more likely to attain our goals:
  • S Specific. This is where we decide to work on a specific and defined area. The language we use is specific. We should be able to point to exactly what we want this change to look like.
  • M Measurable. We need to quantify what results will look like. We probably - if this is a long-term goal - need some milestones to add in so we can measure our small steps towards our goal
  • A Assignable. We know who is going to do exactly what. All those who have a part to play will know what those roles are, and have agreed to the outcomes.
  • R Realistic. This is not "lose 10kg in one week" territory: this is small, achievable steps to meet the overall goal. It takes into account all the things that will get in the way: illness; running out of funds; change in personal circumstances, etc.
  • T Timely. Get accurate on when things will be done. Nothing loose or fluffy like 'next year' but checking progress on Monday each week, with a plan on how to catch up if we don't hit our targets.
It sounds so easy... and this is when endurance steps in :-)


  • Doran, G. T. (1983). How to be a Better Manager in 10 Easy Steps. USA: Monarch Press.
  • Doran, G. T. (1981). There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write managements' goals and objectives. Management Review, 70(11), 35-36.

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