smart goal - arrow tracking way through a maze to target

In today’s demanding and fast-paced business environment, how smart is SMART? asks Lindsay Taylor

SMART is the simple and effective framework to ensure your goals can be defined, measured and achieved. 

S = Specific 
Is my goal clearly defined and can it be interpreted correctly? 
M = Measurable 
How will I measure my goal so that I have tangible evidence that I have achieved it? Is there a number associated with it? 
A = Achievable/Attainable
Is this something I can do? Have I got the balance right between stretching myself and ensuring I have the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities to achieve the goal?
R = Relevant
Does my goal fit with my needs and wants? Is it fulfilling for me? How does it fit with my other goals?
T = Time-bound
When will I achieve my goal? What target date will I set to achieve it? 

The SMARTER Option

Here’s the SMARTER option. You’re going to add the “E” and the “R” to your SMART goals.

E = Exciting

It’s all very well identifying your SMART goal, but unless you have the excitement and motivation to achieve that goal, it will remain just that. A written goal. There is more likelihood of you achieving your goal if it’s something you REALLY want.

Focus on the “R” of your SMART goal and ensure the relevance also has an element of excitement to it. 

Ask yourself: 

  • How exciting is this goal? 
  • What score out of 10 would you give it (10 being the most you want this)?
  • If you’re scoring it 7, 8 or 9, what can you add to your goal to make it a 10? 
  • What are you going to gain from achieving this goal? What’s in it for you?
  • What immediate and longer-term benefits will you gain from achieving your goal?

Now imagine you can step forward in time and you’ve achieved your goal. Imagine what you can see, hear and feel now you’ve achieved this goal.

  • What’s happening around you?
  • What are you doing?
  • If there are other people there, what are they doing?
  • What are you saying to yourself?
  • What are others saying to you?
  • How do you feel now you’ve achieved your goal?

This technique is called creative visualisation. By creating a sensory-rich experience (a “future memory” so to speak), we have a compelling reference to work towards. Identify the first step you will take. However small that first step is, this is the momentum that will ensure you’re on the path towards achieving your goal.

Write your first step in SMART terms and set your time-bound criteria as the next 24 hours.

Employ creative visualisation again and imagine stepping forward in time to the achievement of this first step. See, hear and feel this and build up a sensory-rich “future memory”.

R = Recorded

Brilliant. You’ve recorded your SMART goal by writing it down.

Now take this “recording” one step further. Share your goal with someone else. Go and share this with your work colleague, your partner, a family member – or yourself in the mirror!

You have vocalised and recorded your goal with others; in doing so, you’ve put yourself on the line and are likely to be more committed to achieving it. 

Now that’s much SMARTER.


Doran, G. T. (1981). “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”, Management Review, Vol. 70, Issue 11, pp. 35-36.

Taylor, L. (2015). A-Z Pearls of Wisdom for Executive PAs. Bedfordshire: Your Excellency Ltd, pp. 44-49 (Chapter “I is for Imagination”).

Lindsay Taylor is the Director of Your Excellency Limited. A former EA herself, she appreciates the challenges and diversities of the role. Lindsay is a preferred training provider with The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM), one of the oldest ... (Read More)

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