SMART Targets

What Are SMART Targets?

SMART is an acronym which stands for:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-Bound

Sometimes you may see some small variations to these words, such as A = Attainable and R = Relevant, but the words listed above are the most commonly used.

SMART targets are a great way to create meaningful and measurable targets for yourself and others.

The criteria of specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, provides a comprehensive model for setting objectives to support your personal and business operations.

This is a widely used model for setting objectives and one which you must familiarise yourself with.


The target set must be specific to the activities and outcomes you are hoping to achieve.

Generalised and vaguely related targets are often forgotten as they do not provide the clarity and direction that is required for adherence.


Effective targets must have a measurable component. If you can’t measure it how do you know it has been achieved? You may want to measure the timescale, quantity or quality associated with the target. Regardless of what you are measuring there needs to be some way of establishing if the desired outcome has been achieved.


The target set must be achievable. There is no purpose in setting someone a target they are never doing to achieve.

The target should be appropriate to the knowledge, experience and skill level of the individual completing it.


Even if an individual can easily achieve a set target is it realistic they can actually do so? They may not have the capacity, time or motivation to complete the task set. Making sure the target is realistic is vital for achieving a successful outcome.


Targets must be bound by time to ensure there is an associated deadline. Tasks will often take as long as the timescale allows and by offering no end date for completion it is unlikely the task will be prioritised. People work to deadlines so it is important to ensure one is incorporated into the target.

SMART Target Example

Here is an example of a non-SMART target:

“I will finish writing my book”

This is not specific enough to provide direction, it is measurable as it will be complete when the book is finished, it is potentially achievable and realistic however time frame has been provided to put the target into context.

Alternatively, here is a similar example using the SMART model:

“I will finishing writing the fifth chapter of my book by the end of April 2023.”

This target is specific to the task of writing, measurable as it refers to completing the fifth chapter, achievable and realistic due to the time scale  allowed and is time bound as it includes a deadline date.

I hope this example helps and the information provided within the article is useful.

However, not everyone likes SMART Targets as they can be limiting and other alternatives to SMART have been proposed.