If you are like me, you have seen the the SMART goals acronym get mentioned at motivational seminars, productivity discussions, and management strategy sessions often enough that you might have seen it written differently more than once. I have some news for you.
There is no definitive SMART goals framework. … well sort of.
And this is not a bad thing because the variations of the SMART goals model is only slightly different from the original smart goals acronym. And all smart goals acronyms help you create smarter goals. There is an unspoken rule in business consulting and life coaching alike that it’s okay to mix and match and modify models like this one to help others.
Now that we got that out of the way, the SMART goals model was first written in 1981 by George T. Doran in a paper titled, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”. Because it was a curriculum for managers, it has a corporate angle in nature.
Original Smart Goals Acronym by Doran:
- 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.
This smart goals acronym was earth shattering when introduced and is still highly regarded, but as mentioned, there are different smart goals acronyms. You may even have memorized another smart acronym. That is because there is a better acronym for personal goal setting as opposed to corporate goal setting.
I have found the the following smart goal framework to be more suitable for personal goal setting. I have used it with many coaching clients for personal goals and it is extremely effective.
Updated Acronym for Personal Goals:
- Specific: Anyone can understand the goal.
- Measurable: You know when it’s accomplished.
- Attainable: You can do it. You are in control of the outcome.
- Relevant: It fits into who you are or who you are becoming.
- Time-bound: It has a time frame or due date.
“Assignable” makes zero sense for you if it’s only you who is accountable to the goal. Everything is assigned to you. So that has been substituted for “Attainable” is another word for “Realistic”, part of the original model. And “Relevant” is added to remind you that your goals are not the goals your mother has for you, they are not the goals your friends have for you, they are your goals for your life and must be relevant to you.
All you need to remember is this: Don’t get hung up on the smart goals acronym. I can hear some of you groaning. You needn’t. Be encouraged. The original and revised models are both great and both are designed to help organizations and people get better at settings goals. And they work. What doesn’t work is you picking apart the model and judging it to a point where it is no longer helpful.
Do You Want The Ultimate Personal Goal Setting Blueprint?
I put a helpful bundle together called The Ultimate Personal Goal Setting Blueprint, which is essentially a goal setting process that I have refined over the years. It includes additional goal setting resources like the SMART Goals Framework, the Ultimate Goal Jogger, goal setting template worksheets, and most importantly a repeatable process for creating clarity and balance in the personal goal setting process.