How to Reference for the Employee: What is a Smart Goal?


What Is A Smart GoalThe term Smart Goal does not pertain to the IQ of your goal. It is an acronym that is widely used to illustrate the building blocks of a goal. Understanding SMART Goals will help you create goals that are within your reach. SMART goals are used regularly for Performance Reviews, but I suggest using this tool any time you are creating a goal.






In order to illustrate how to use SMART to create a goal, I am going to create a goal using this tool. Please note that I am going to change the order in my explanation. I use Specific, Measurable, and Timely in the creation of the goal. Then I use Attainable and Realistic to test my goal.


A specific goal has a better chance of being completed ad intended.

Make a goal specific by describing the details of the goal.

As I create my own goal I want to make sure it is specific enough that anyone can understand the purpose of my goal. If I said “I am going to climb” it would leave a lot of questions. What am I going to climb. I could change the goal to: I am going to climb a mountain. If my goal was to climb any mountain than this would be specific. However, I don’t want to climb just any mountain. I want to climb Mount Everest.

My goal should be specific: I will climb Mount Everest


The best way to show that you have completed a goal is to make it measurable.

Make a goal measurable by adding an indicator at a specific interval.

My goal is not really measurable. Could I climb ten feet of Mount Everest and call it complete? In do not need to add a physical measurement to make this goal measurable. I can simply indicate that I will climb to the top of the highest peak.

My goal should be measurable: I will climb to the top of the highest peak on Mount Everest.


In order to know when the goal should be finished you should make it Timely.

Make a goal timely by indicating the deadline for the goal.

In my climbing example above I can measure if my goal is completed, but without a deadline I never fail to complete my goal. When giving goals to yourself this helps to motivate swift action, and when giving goals for a Performance Review it allows both the employee and supervisor to understand the deadline.

My goal should be timely: I will climb to the top of the highest peak on Mount Everest in six months.


Achievable or able to accomplish.

In regards to your current circumstances – can you complete this goal

Attainable and possible are not the same thing. It is possible for me to Climb Mount Everest in six months. The mountain is there, equipment is available, and I have arms and legs. However, it is not an Attainable goal. I have never climbed anything, I do not have the time needed to get in climbing shape, and I am not passionate enough about climbing to invest the effort.

A change in circumstance can make this attainable. I would become passionate if I discover that I have a rare illness and will die in 6 months unless I can reach the top of Mount Everest to gather a rare plant needed in a cure. This change in circumstance will give me the drive needed to get in shape and learn to climb.



A goal can be Realistic, but not attainable, but a goal that is not realistic can not be attainable.

This is often mistaken for the same thing as attainable. If my goal were to be the first person to Climb Mount Everest then it would not be Realistic. Someone has already climbed Mount Everest. Nothing can affect the circumstances in a way that will make this realistic.


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