At the start of the year most people are thinking about their plans to develop their business or themselves, set new goals and objectives.  So I thought it would be appropriate to outline some guidance.
In order for goals to be successful, rather than just ideas, it is best to write them down and follow a clear structure ensuring that they are SMART.

SMART is a mnemonic that can be used to help ensure that effective objectives or goals are set.

For those that don’t know this stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timebound

An objective is a subgoal. It identifies a short-term, measurable step within a designated period of time that is moving toward achieving a long-term goal



Specific objectives are clear and well-defined.

Significant, Stretching, Simple.

I want to be “good”

I want to be “better”

I want to “improve”

How much better?  How good?


Progress towards objectives often need to be to be monitored whilst work is under way.

Meaningful, Motivational, Manageable

How will you measure progress? Who will measure it?


Achievable objectives ensure that everything is in place and that if the person does not reach the goals they cannot reasonably point the finger elsewhere.

Appropriate, Agreed, Assignable, Actionable, Action



Objectives should also add useful value within the context where they are being set, being aligned with strategies and higher goals.

Realistic, Results/Results-focused/Results-oriented, Resourced



Giving a time scale adds an appropriate sense of urgency and ensures that the objectives meet agreed time scales.

Time-oriented, Time framed, Time-based, Timely, Timetabled, Time limited, Trackable, Tangible

When (date) will you re-assess your goals?

Your Progress?

An update on the smart mnemonic is the addition of ‘ER’ which makes them SMARTER and stands for

  • Evaluate
  • Review

This is good practice and ensures you continue the cycle.


Ethical, excitable, enjoyable, engaging, ecological


Reevaluate, rewarded, reassess, revisit, recordable, rewarding, reaching

When starting to write them don’t try to use that order M-A/R-S-T is often the best way to write objectives.

Measurable is the most important consideration. You will know that you’ve achieved your objective, because here is the evidence. Make sure you state how you will record your success.

It is important that if you are setting goals/objectives for other people that everyone involved can understand them – your objectives are free from jargon – you’ve defined all your terms.  This will ensure clarity and a consistent language.

Finally when reviewing always consider:

  • Have you got all the resources?
  • Are they sufficiently motivating?
  • Are they challenging enough?
  • What is your contingency plan?

Hope this helps to give you a good foundation to start to write meaningful goals and objectives that will bring you future success.

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