The acronym for S.M.A.R.T. goals was coined in 1981 by a consultant named George T. Doran. The original definition was:
- Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
- Assignable: specify who will do it.
- Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
- Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.
Later on, it was expanded to S.M.A.R.T.E.R. with two more things:
- Evaluated: appraisal of a goal to assess the extent to which it has been achieved.
- Reviewed: reflection and adjustment of your approach or behavior to reach a goal.
A common version today is:
The challenge with this version is that someone has to make a judgement call for Achievable and Realistic.
A preferred current version for use by individuals is:
The differences here are Actionable – meaning action can be taken, and Relevant – referring to it having meaning, importance, and value.
Which version someone uses may be based on preference or it may simply be the only version they had heard. This makes for a rich discussion during coaching certification.
When completing coach training, we learn that it is important client set goals based on what they do want, their internal motivation (which is where Relevant comes in), and that they are pro-actively moving toward it (Actionable).
S.M.A.R.T. goals are naturally empowering.