SMART goals: 10 examples + instructions from a TOP manager

What is SMART?

SMART is that rare case when the acronym matches the content. The translation of the word smart in English is “smart”. Planning smarter. Great name!

The word itself is broken down into simple and understandable components. Each letter is endowed with meaning, and here’s a secret: until you can understand the essence of each term, the smart system for setting goals will not work. Or it will perform its function poorly.

Why is that?

Because every element in this system matters: for realizing the goal, for its formation and achievement. Moreover, when creating the correct formulation of planned “smart” tasks, transformation of projects often occurs - previously unnoticed important aspects, nuances, and details emerge.

Let's decrypt:

S (Specific). Specifically.

M (Measurable). Measurable.

A (Achievable). Achievable.

R (Relevant). Agreed.

T (Time). Time.


To consolidate the knowledge gained, let's look at a few examples in detail. The main thing to consider when evaluating a SMART goal is context. A goal may work great in some conditions and be completely unsuitable for others. Therefore, I will describe each situation in detail.

  • Example 1

A 3rd year student wants to pass his coursework early in order to go to the USA for the summer under a student exchange program. The school year has just begun, but he doesn't want to drag this out for too long. The guy formulates his goal like this: “to pass the coursework by February 1 of next year.”


  1. S (specificity). Writing a term paper is a fairly specific and clear goal.
  2. M (measurability). The grade in the grade book will be confirmation of achieving the goal.
  3. A (reachability). Last year, writing a term paper took a young man 2 months. There are still 5 months left before the deadline. The teacher and the dean do not object to early submission. Conclusion: the goal is achievable.
  4. R (relevance). The goal fits into the value system, lifestyle and does not contradict other plans.
  5. T (time limited). A specific deadline has been set - February 1.

The general verdict is that the goal is workable and meets all SMART criteria.

  • Example 2

A girl dreams of learning to play the guitar. She has free time in the evenings, which she plans to devote to her homework. She formulates her goal as follows: “to learn to play the guitar in a year.”


  1. S (specificity). Unfortunately, already at this stage the target leaves the distance. “Learn to play the guitar” is a vague formulation that can include many interpretations. You need to formulate it more clearly: “learn 20 songs”, “master playing notes”, “perform in an orchestra”, etc. And then estimate how much time it will take.

Verdict - the goal needs to be improved.

  • Example 3

The guy really wants to get a dog. I’ve even decided on the breed – German Shepherd. At the same time, our hero does not have his own home - he rents a room in a three-room apartment. He formulated the goal as follows: “to buy a German shepherd by December 1, 2020.”


  1. S (specificity). The goal is quite specific.
  2. M (measurability). The goal is measurable - the moment the money is exchanged for the dog, it will be achieved.
  3. A (reachability). The goal is achievable - German shepherds are not very expensive and our hero can afford this breed.
  4. R (relevance). But here's the rub. Keeping such a large dog in one room will be problematic, and the owner of the apartment is unlikely to be happy. The goal conflicts with reality. Therefore, it is better to postpone it until better times or completely abandon it.

Conclusion: the goal does not meet the SMART criteria.

S – Specific. A specific goal is half the success

Everywhere they write: goals for the smart system must be specific. But what does it mean?

It's simple! You need to clearly understand what the outcome of this goal should be.

Not just lose weight, but reduce your waist size to 60 cm or see the scales drop by 55 kg. Not to increase the company’s sales, but to achieve indicators that are 40% better than the same period last year. Not “buy a house”, but “earn 2 million in six months and buy a house in the cottage village “XXX”.

If the project requires the participation of some other person - an employee, a partner, a manager, then it is very important to receive feedback on specifying the goal. Otherwise, it may happen that the gym trainer is focused on achieving the final weight, and you strive for the exact volume of your forms!

Even when looking at examples of the smart system for setting goals, we see not an abstract plan, but a clear picture. And this is very important for launching the work of the subconscious, which, having understood what a person needs, will begin to contribute in every possible way to the fulfillment of his desires. Give the right thoughts, stimulate the right ideas, guide along the best route.

If you believe in the influence of the Universe on us, then you can use this argument. The clearer the request to the Universe, the faster and more correctly it will be implemented.

It turns out, no matter how you explain the SMART phenomenon, there are continuous advantages everywhere.

wrong examples

In practice, the goals and objectives of companies, even if conditionally structured, are often formed incorrectly. And now I will tell you about the most typical formulation errors.

Example 1.

I won’t ramble on for a long time and will immediately show you a list of goals, the formulation of which is incorrect:

  1. Read the materials on the article;
  2. Provide competitive advantages in the market;
  3. Develop employees' understanding of the company's overall goals;
  4. Increase the efficiency of departments for the New Year;
  5. Maximize the company's presence in the market;
  6. Create a website for the sale of interregional real estate;
  7. Change the attitude of subordinates to work;
  8. Improve the quality of our customer service.

These goal statements do not meet any of the SMART criteria. And no matter how exaggerated it may look, many of the above are real examples.

Example 2.

And one more example (what the goal should not be) can be seen in the figure below.

Wrong goal statement

The company’s intentions to become better than it is are clearly visible, but it is completely unclear what, how and in what time frame will be accomplished.

Based on these plans, it is difficult to formulate instructions for action for a specific employee or an entire department, and the company’s course is most similar to “steering out somewhere.”

M – Measurable. Scales for measuring targets

Second important point.

SMART goals must be measurable. They must contain quantitative or understandable qualitative indicators, characteristics that will ultimately indicate that the goal has been achieved.

What can be used to measure:

  • money - rubles, euros, dollars, tugriks;
  • shares, percentages, ratios;
  • reviews or other external evaluation criteria;
  • likes, number of subscribers, “viewed” for articles;
  • frequency of actions – every second user clicks “order”;
  • time – limited periods;
  • fines – motivation “from the opposite” ;
  • approval, agreement, approval - obtaining a positive opinion from a specialist or manager.

You can also find very strange options for measuring goals:

  • “crosses” for embroiderers;
  • schoolchildren's grades;
  • competitions for teachers;
  • number of dishes every day from the hostess;
  • “Tomatoes” for a busy person.

Everything that can be measured and assessed must be measured and assessed.

SMART goals – examples:

  • lose 10 kg
  • publish 5 articles per day
  • meet 1 person per day
  • get a contract approved by a lawyer

All examples are “chopped off”, as they are intended to demonstrate only the “measurability” criterion. More precise guidelines for SMART goals are at the end of the article.

Examples of personal goals using the SMART method

Here are some examples:

  • Receive a salary of 100,000 rubles at your current place of work by February 2021.
  • Become a student at the Faculty of Economics of MGIMO in 2020.
  • Complete training at a driving school before November 2021.
  • Reduce weight by 5 kg by October 1, 2021.
  • Spend a week in Italy from January 1 to January 7, 2021.
  • Learn 50 new words in English before August 15, 2019.
  • Take part in the webinar “How to achieve your goal” on July 15, 2019.

Each goal given corresponds to all the principles of the SMART methodology, so the above formulations can well be used as a sample.

In order to take the first step towards your dream, you must first indicate your intention (preferably in writing). In the process of formulating a goal, try to use all the principles of the SMART methodology. This will allow you to immediately identify those difficulties that may prevent your desire from coming true.

Using the SMART goal technique allows you to focus as much as possible on a specific goal. It’s as if you automatically tune in to the desired wave, that is, you not only select possible ways to achieve the goal, but also “attract” all the necessary events.

Through specificity, focus, and the need for a time limit, you can figure out what you really want. This way you will truly identify your goals and get rid of the imposed ones.

SMART methodology can also be applied to advice from other people, any recommendations, suggestions, etc. The technique helps to weed out all unnecessary things and concentrate on what is important and truly necessary.

The use of the SMART technique is inappropriate in the following cases:

  1. When it is impossible to imagine a specific date for achieving the goal. Long-term planning according to SMART does not make sense, since the situation can change dramatically (especially if you set irrelevant goals before reaching the deadlines).
  2. If it is important for you not to achieve the final result, but only to start moving in the right direction.
  3. If you know in advance that no action will be taken, the technique in question loses its meaning. SMART always involves taking a certain sequence of actions to achieve your goals.
We recommend

“Increasing labor productivity: ways, methods and solutions” Read more

A – Achievable. Is the dream achievable?

Suppose you, being an ordinary office worker or a housewife, set a goal: in six months, get approval from the commission for a flight to the Moon. Specifically? Measurable? That's right!

Achievable? Hardly…

SMART is not a magic pill that will transport you to a magic castle just for the correct formulation.

This is a system that focuses on the reality of existence. This means that when thinking about any plans, it is important to correlate the available resources and capabilities with the desired result.

There are as many options for assessing achievability as there are goals themselves and methods for measuring them. This:

  • material and moral resources;
  • time;
  • skills;
  • knowledge;
  • financial opportunities;
  • health…

Mistakes and 3 more role models

Don't make the following mistakes:

  • There are no specifics of improvement - there is nothing to “measure” the dynamics.
  • The goal is “expressed” in general, without addressing a specific person. Especially if there are many characters. This mistake often occurs in business, where later, when it is determined that a task has not been completed, responsibility is shifted from one shoulder to another.
  • Forgotten deadline.

You can approach the correct formulation of a goal through problems. Here again the questions will help:

  • What don't you like? Can you be more specific?
  • Who should solve the problem?

As an example, I compiled this table - right - wrong.

Problem 1
Construction of the dacha was not completed according to the contract
Goal 1
Complete the construction of the dacha as soon as possible
Problem 1: The construction of the dacha was only 80% complete by August 31 - finishing work has not been completed.Goal 1: By September 30, 2010, complete the construction of the dacha by 100%, completing all finishing work.
Problem 2
Everything is bad!
Goal 2
To make everything okay
Problem 2: Over the past week I was late for work 4 times by more than 30 minutes, my bonus for the month will be significantly reduced.Goal 2: From September 13, 2010, arrive at work every day by 08.30.
Problem 3
Suppliers do not fulfill their obligations to customers in a timely manner, which led to a significant decrease in sales of our department
Goal 3
In order to fulfill the plan, significantly increase the level of sales of the department
Problem 3 : Over the past two months, there has been a 20% increase in customer complaints about delayed delivery and assembly of sliding wardrobes. Currently, the company has not completed 53 orders on time. At the end of the 3rd quarter, our department fulfilled the sales plan by 85%. Goal 3: By December 31, 2010. achieve timely fulfillment of all customer orders, fulfill the annual sales plan by 100%.

I will give “live” incorrect examples of formulations from practical activities:

  • "Exceed the plan for
  • “Reduce waiting time in line”
  • "Make it faster..."
  • “Increase the number of points leased”

R - Relevant. Let's align the goal with reality!

An interesting point is goal agreement. With what or who does it need to be “coordinated”?

At all!

With reality...

With existing plans...

With wishes...

What could happen if you exclude this item from SMART planning? The absurdity and complete impracticability of the formulated tasks.

The goals do not fit together well: “get enough sleep,” “run at 5 am,” “spend time with my husband after he returns from work at 12 p.m.” Or: “reduction of 80% of staff” and “200% profitability compared to last year.”

If there are contradictions, then plans need to be reviewed and adjusted.

Examples of goal setting - for the office

An example from business, I witnessed goal setting.

Goal: Improve discipline in the sector.

This begs the question: “What’s wrong with the employees, and is everyone to blame?” Let's figure it out. Only 4 people.

Of these, one girl, Olya, is constantly late.

Another employee, Kolya, often takes smoke breaks, which is why the quality of work is significantly lower than that of others. The two remaining employees are working without any comments. In this case, there will be 2 tasks posed by technology.

Example 4

Ole learn not to be late and arrive 5 minutes before the start of the working day, before the 20th.

And Olya can break this task down into components:

  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier from tonight;
  • Set your alarm 15 minutes earlier than usual starting today.
  • Prepare and check your son’s school bag in the evening, and not in the morning, as usual, starting this evening.

And other points. The main thing is to digitize: Not just go to bed early, but for 15 minutes. Numbers discipline a person.

Example 5

Kohl, reduce smoking breaks to 2 times; no more than 10 minutes, starting from tomorrow’s working day (1 – before lunch and 1 after). But this is still a loyal boss who got caught. Someone might even ban it altogether))

Everything is already clear here - the goal is set according to SMART: targeted, timed, specific, and feasible.

But if suddenly you’re fed up with everything and don’t know how to find a goal, then maybe this article will be useful to you...

T – Time-bound. When to evaluate the result?

Time-bound - “limited time.” If a goal does not have a finite time limit, then it can be achieved indefinitely. Therefore, it is important to set a framework within which the desired plans must be implemented.

It is customary to share goals:

  • Short-term – up to 100 days
  • Medium term – from quarter to year
  • Long-term – for a period of 1 year or more

An interesting fact, but according to the SMART system, the goal should not only be limited in time, but also correlated with other plans. The chain is as follows: long-term dreams formulate the category of medium-term affairs, and those, in turn, are divided into short-term projects.

If you follow this idea in reverse order, you can see the path of small steps from today to the big Dream.

Features of the method

The SMART method, like any other tool, has its own rules that must be followed, as well as pros and cons. And then I’ll tell you more about them.


  1. Set your priorities. It should be taken into account that the most important point in the SMART technique is not S - specificity, as priorities are usually set, but R - importance. First of all, we must understand not what we are doing, but why;
  2. Write it down. You need to formulate goals in writing (either in Word or on a piece of paper). This will allow you to make adjustments and work out the details of the plan down to clear job (or personal) instructions and steps for implementation;
  3. Be flexible. It is worth keeping in mind that over time, new knowledge or circumstances appear that can radically affect the goal, so the criteria defining the goal must be adaptive;
  4. Motivate. Employees, department heads and departments as a whole are given goals and indicators for their effective implementation. For completion, you can accrue a certain percentage of your salary.


  • Certainty. Practice shows that if a goal is defined, then it is much easier to move towards it and sooner or later, while remaining relevant, it will lead to results;
  • Practicality. It means that having described the goal according to the given algorithm, you are actually already planning for yourself the planning of smart actions, the steps that need to be taken;
  • Versatility. The algorithm for setting goals is simple and universal; it allows you to describe goals not only for managing large companies, but also plan personal ones;
  • Ergonomics. The SMART methodology allows you to save time and energy, regulate the work of personnel, and increase the productivity of actions;
  • Motivation. By receiving clear instructions for work, employees, departments and structures understand their organizational roles significantly better. Their motivation increases.


  • Uncertainty. SMART criteria are not always applicable to strategic goals. When planning a strategy, we are always faced with uncertainty;
  • Human factor. Rigidly planned and set goals may encounter misunderstanding on the part of staff, so it is important to agree on goal levels;
  • Daily routine. Often the daily routine interferes with the achievement of intended goals: an uncontrollable flow of momentary tasks arises, which distracts.

Always like this…

SMART goal setting system: examples

As promised, here are a few guiding examples that will help you understand the principles of formulating your desires:

  1. Lose weight from 65 to 60 kg in 100 days
  2. Reach an income of 100,000 per month by May 1, 2015
  3. Write 1 article every day for a quarter
  4. Rest for two weeks in June 2021 in Italy and visit Rome
  5. Enroll in the free department of the Faculty of Engineering of UrFU in 2020
  6. Learn 500 Spanish words by March 1, 2021
  7. Buy a new car – a blue Chevrolet Aveo hatchback – by December of this year
  8. Take repeated SEO training from Shakhov no later than this summer
  9. Read and implement all blog articles – before September 1, 2018.
  10. Read one educational book on coaching, psychology, and time management once a week for six months.


The SMART technique began to be used in time management around the late 80s of the last century.
Like many other techniques, it was borrowed from business and enterprise management (that is, conventional management). SMART technology itself has a long history: its idea “matured” virtually throughout the 20th century.

The fact that the formulation of goals affects their achievement has been discussed for a long time. The research of the famous American psychologist Edwin Locke played a particularly important role in this issue. For example, in 1968, he published an article “Toward a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives,” where he convincingly showed that work effectiveness largely depends on the correct setting of goals.

However, back in the first half of the 20th century, the concept of “management by objectives” began to gain popularity in business. Its development, for example, was carried out by such a prominent management theorist as Peter Drucker (sometimes he is mistakenly credited with being the author of the SMART system itself). At the same time, the importance of certain SMART criteria: specificity, measurability, and setting deadlines was increasingly mentioned in business literature.

All these ideas were summarized by the American business consultant George T. Doran. In 1981, in Management Review magazine, he published an article “There's a SMART way to write management's goals and objectives,” where he first proposed the use of the SMART acronym and described the main criteria for SMART goals. It is he who is officially considered the author of this method.

Note that, unlike the popular version today, Doran's letter A did not mean Attainable (attainable), but Assignable (assigned). That is, when setting a goal, one should immediately appoint someone who will be responsible for its implementation. This requirement remains relevant for enterprises and public administration.

In 1985, American management expert Kenneth Blanchard, along with two co-authors, published the book “Leadership and the One Minute Manager”. It mentioned the SMART methodology proposed by Doran, but in a slightly different interpretation.

Blanchard's book became a bestseller, which contributed to the widespread use of this technique.


The use of smart analysis in management can become the catalyst that ensures business development and achievement of maximum results, and in the event of a crisis, a creative strategy for exiting it. After implementing the technology, you should not stop there; constant adjustment and updating of your goals is necessary. A clearly formulated task contributes to its more effective implementation.

You can order a detailed turnkey business plan from us, or buy a completely finished business plan with all the calculations.

Balanced Scorecard, BSC

The balanced scorecard, or BSC, was developed in the 1990s by Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan and American management consultant David Norton. It is intended as a management tool that should help track the achievement of goals within the framework of the organization's strategy and standardize reporting. It was Norton and Kaplan who legitimized the connection between the performance indicator system and the company’s strategic goals and began to talk about the need to balance the indicators with each other.

During planning, a strategic map or tree of goals is created for different areas of the organization. The following areas or areas of activity are taken into consideration: clients, finance, personnel development and internal business processes. Each direction is assigned goals and a set of KPIs.

The advantages of BSC include a balanced view of the organization, visualization, ease of presentation and perception of information, versatility, focus on positive changes, and relationship with employee KPIs. Disadvantages include the complexity of implementation, the lack of quick results, the difficulty of assessing key indicators, and implementation only at the level of top managers.

( 2 ratings, average 4.5 out of 5 )
Did you like the article? Share with friends:
For any suggestions regarding the site: [email protected]
Для любых предложений по сайту: [email protected]