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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lofshult

SMART vs SMARTER Goals (Part 1 of 2)



When it comes to goal setting, there are lots of methods. However, one of the most well-know seems to be the SMART model.


You've probably heard of SMART goals before. They are goals that are:

  • Specific - they have a clear definition of what "done" looks like

  • Measurable - I see this as a companion to Specific - how much or how many things you are hoping to achieve will be included in your Specific description

  • Achievable - the goal is something you think can be reasonably accomplished. It might be a stretch but not by much. If the goal is so far out there that you have no idea how to achieve it, it can become demotivating.

  • Relevant - the goal is tied to something bigger than you or a desired future state - your values, your aspirations, your company's mission or OKRs

  • Time-bound - the date by which you intend to accomplish the goal

The format I like to use for my goals is "As a _____, I will ________ so that ______." This helps clarify the identity or role I'm creating this goal for ("As a"), what the goal is ("I will"), and why it's important ("so that").

SMART goals can be either means (process) goals or ends goals.

A means goal is one that defines an activity or habit you want to accomplish regularly that will drive you toward your desired future. An example of a SMART means goal would be, "As a coach, I will write for my blog for at least 15 minutes per day at least 5 days per week so that I can better serve my readers by providing helpful content."

That goal meets the SMART criteria because it is Specific ("I will write for my blog"), Measurable (at least 15 minutes per day), Achievable (by making it only 15 minutes at a minimum, I'm making it achievable. If I write longer, that's icing on the cake), Relevant (it ties back to my role as a coach and my aspiration to create more content for my readers), and Time-bound (at least 5 days per week).

An ends goal is one that specifies what you desire to achieve at a point in time through actions you take. An example of an ends goal would be, "As an author, I will create the first draft of my book by the end of 2022 so that I can work on getting it published in 2023 to share it with people it could help."

That goal meets the SMART criteria, too, because it is Specific ("I will create the first draft of my book"), Measurable (it's either done or not done), Achievable (it'll take hard work, but I think it's achievable), Relevant (it ties back to my desire to get more helpful information into more people's hands), and Time-bound (12/31/2022 is pretty fixed in time).

That's the SMART goal framework in a nutshell. It's a time-tested, popular method used by individuals and organizations world-wide and I don't think you can go wrong using it. In my next post, though, I'll cover an alternative to the SMART framework called SMARTER you might be interested in considering.

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