What is a Smart Goal ?

S.M.A.R.T goals - the world's most popular way to set goals!

What is a SMART goal?

Who invented it?

How do you write an effective smart goal?

It's never too late to look at your life and ask yourself "Is my life really how I want it to be?"

Each new day represents a new opportunity.

The very best way to start, is to put some time aside and thoroughly review your life as it currently stands.

Then, once that is complete, to take more time out to design your future.

With these new insights you are now in the great position to set yourself goals.

There are many different goal setting tools around but the 'smart goals' technique is by far the simplest and the most popular.


There are three different phases in the development of the smart goal:

1. 1981 - The introduction of the original 'Smart goal'

2. 1980's to today - Smart a la Carte hundreds of different interpretations of the smart goal by different authors including the introduction of the 'smarter' goals setting process.

3. 2010 - The

'Smartest Goals Formula™ - smart goals plus the best of the latest cutting edge research into how high achievers set their goals!

1. 1981 - The introduction of the original 'Smart goal'

When the S.M.A.R.T goal was first introduced to the world it was an acronym which stood for:

S. - Specific

M. - Measurable

A. – Assignable

R. - Realistic

T. – Time based

In other words when you set a goal you had to ensure it was specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time based.


2. 1980's to today - Smart a la Carte

The s.m.a.r.t goals concept was liked and soon became very popular.

As with many things that become popular, people all over the world began to share their thoughts and ideas. As a result each letter began to mean different things to different people.

Today many different definitions and interpretations exist.

One definition of the acronym however has been the most popular. It is this:

S. - Specific

M. - Measurable

A. – Achievable

R. - Realistic

T. – Time based

Here are some of the many variants:

S - Specific, or significant, stretching, stimulating, simple, self owned, strategic, sensible...

M. - Measurable, or meaningful, motivating, manageable, maintainable...

A. – Achievable, or attainable, action-oriented, appropriate, agreed, assignable, ambitious, accepted, audacious...

R. - Relevant, or rewarding, results-oriented, resourced, recorded, reviewable, robust...

T. – Time based or time-bound, time- lined, track-able...

S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals are also popular today.

E. and R. are added after the letters S.M.A.R.T.

They signify the following:

E.- Evaluate, excitable, ethical...

R - Re-evaluate, reward, reassess...

But what does all this mean?

  • This means that if you are new to goal setting and happen to be surfing the internet to learn about s.m.a.r.t goals you will find a dozen and one different interpretations and could well end up being totally confused!
  • Not only that, the quality of the goal you actually set will vary depending on which interpretation you follow - and believe me they are not all equal!

My advice? If you are going to set a smart goal stick to the simple ,most popular, version above.


3. 2010 - The Smartest Goals Formula™

While I prefer to teach and apply the most popular version of smart goals in my opinion the smart goals concept as a whole has two big downsides.

  • Firstly it does not enable people to thoroughly think through their goals. The acronym is too simplistic for this.
  • Secondly goals should be 'realistic'.

    But if we always have to be realistic how are we ever going encourage 'WoW' goals, goals that seem impossible like sending man to the moon, face transplants, cloning etc

Goals should never be 'dumbed down' from the very outset.''Wow' goals must be encouraged too.

The 'Smartest Goals Formula™

  • is an acronym that represents the questions high performers learn in expensive workshops around the world in order to set themselves powerful goals from the very outset.
  • is based on cutting edge research on goal setting and is designed as a process to use for important goals - goals where a significant amount of energy, time or money is about to be spent in order to achieve them.

My recommendation?

Use the smart goal setting process when your goals are relatively simple and straightforward.

Use the smartest goals™ for important goals - goals that you know will require significant effort, time or money on your part.

You can

learn more about the Smartest Goals Formula™ here.


The SMART acronym first appeared in the November 1981 issue of Management Review.

"There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives." was the title and it was written by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham.

Initially it was seen as a business tool and thousands of people across the world were taught how to use it. This was often as part of improving project management processes in business.

When it came to creating project objectives George Doran's framework was the way used to define and agree consensus on goals - it still is.

Today smart goals are used by people right across the world, for setting all sorts of goals; work and career goals, health goals, financial goals, personal development goals to name a few...


Most people have never formally been taught goal setting.

But setting goals is a skill. It starts with learning how to define your goal, and before you take any action to really think it through thoroughly.

Learn the steps involved in goal setting here!

Recommended Next Step?

Return to The smart goals mini course

Go to Step 3 of the Smartest Goals Success Formula™

Visualise your goal into existence!

Return to Smart Goals Home Page From Smart Goal

How To INCREASE Your CHANCES Of Achieving Any Personal Or Professional Goal Right From The START EBOOK & GOAL SETTING WORKSHEET - $7 OFFER


What People Are Saying:

"I would have told you I had clear goals, but as a result of the tools I saw they were not nearly as tight as they need to be if I want to quickly build my dreams".

E. Alana James

Founder - Doctoral Academy

I would highly recommend this process to think through any task that is important to you but may seem unattainable."

Myriam Cronin
Gateway Incubation Centre
University College Cork

"The discipline of working through the steps and key questions in the Smartest Goals process brings exceptional clarity and focus allowing me to achieve much more in a shorter time than I hertofore thought possible.

I would highly recommend this approach to anyone who wishes to achieve their dreams."

Helen O’Dowd
Virginia Health Foods

"I am delighted with My Smartest Goal!

I was at a bit of a crossroads in my business and I found the entire process most helpful, insightful, and inspirational!"

Fiona Foley- Gaffney
Colour Me Beautiful