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SMART (SMART goals)

SMART is a best practice framework for setting goals. A SMART goal should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. By setting a goal, an individual is making a roadmap for a specific target. The elements in the framework work together to create a goal that is carefully and thoughtfully planned out, executable, and trackable.

Often used for performance reviews, the acronym is intended to help a manager or other employee who is tasked with setting goals to clarify exactly what will be required for achieving success and to be able to share that clarification with others. Although it is used in professional settings, SMART goals can be used personally as well. For example, an individual in a small business could set a goal to have better and more efficient communication methods, set within a realistic and achievable target and timeframe.

The SMART acronym

Specific refers to being as specific as possible with the desired goal. Generally, the more narrow and specific a goal is, the more clear the steps to achieve it will be. Measurable refers to ensuring that there will be evidence that can be tracked to keep track of progress. Achievable refers to making sure the set goal is realistic -- ones that are possible to complete or maintain by the set timeframe. Relevant refers to making sure the goal itself aligns with values and long-term goals and objectives. Time-bound refers to making sure the goal is set within an appropriate time frame.

This was last updated in October 2020

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