Smart Goal System

Setting goals are critical to success. Unfortunately, more times than not, goals or objectives simply go unfinished. Goals are started, but then, like water in a drain, the goal disappears into obscurity.

To execute a goal, an action plan must be determined and outlined. An action plan defines the specific actions required to achieve a stated goal or objective. Through the decades, many methodical approaches have been devised to conquer goals. (There are long-term goals (or strategic goals) and short-term goals. For this article short-term goals, goals spanning one year or less, will be implied.)

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In business, people have depended on S.M.A.R.T goals to ensure goals are successful. The SMART acronym, for the most part, means the same thing, but there is no universal definition to every letter of the acronym. Here are two widely used definitions: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented, and Target dates; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant, and Tangible/Time-bound. SMART is a tested and true method for most goals that don’t require breakthrough innovation—let’s get SMART.

Specific: A goal should not be vague or unclear, but rather, it should be specific and concise. “Get as many new clients as possible this month!” is a laudable goal, but not specific. “Meet with 20 new clients and acquire 10 new clients for the month of March” is clear and specific.

Measurable: The goal should be measurable and quantifiable. There must be a way to measure your goal’s progress. Using the previous example, if you signed and acquired 7 new clients by the end of the month, you accomplished 70% of one of your goals.

Attainable: Goals are challenging and that’s expected. However, if your goal is too challenging and ambitious to the point of being unrealistic, chances are the goal will be unsuccessful. Therefore, goals should be realistic or attainable. Goals need to fit within a specific time frame taking organizational aspects into consideration, such as existing equipment and resources, finances, and employee quantity and their capabilities.

Results-Oriented: Action verbs should be used when writing down your goals in order to stimulate and produce the results you’re looking for. Action verbs such as, “increase,” “complete,” “acquire,” “decrease,” and so forth are helpful action verbs to be results-oriented.

Target dates: Goals shouldn’t drag on forever, they should have deadlines. Setting a target date of completion will allow you to measure and gauge your progress, leading to a successful and attained goal.

SMART Alternative

A SMART goal is a great methodical approach to successfully attain goals. However, a SMART goal can be restrictive for certain goals. Thus, if the goal must yield innovative results, the environment must be able facilitate innovation and not be a suffocating cloister. There are six dimensions to an innovative environment that will be the most impactful (Pranther, 2005).

1. Freedom. Don’t be restrictive. Allow for freedom to rule.

2. Challenge and involvement. The goal should be challenging. You should also be involved in the goal’s progress.

3. Trust and openness. Show trust and allow openness of opinion. Don’t shut everything down.

4. Risk-taking. You must take risks. No risk, no reward. Sometimes, the larger the risk the larger the reward.

5. Idea time. Make time for sharing and nurturing ideas.

6. Idea support. Support ideas. You may not agree with a certain idea, but that untraveled idea may just end-up being the breakthrough you’ve been searching for.


Kinicki, A. (2019). Planning: The foundation of successful management. Management: A
practical introduction (pp. 172).

Prather, C. W. (2005). The Dumb Thing About Smart Goals for Innovation. Research technology
management, 48(5), 14-15. doi:10.1080/08956308.2005.11657331