What are SMART Objectives?

The difference between an ordinary objective – one we might set at the start of the year, or of the week, and a SMART Objective is that SMART Objectives satisfy certain criteria in the way they are set. The SMART criteria have been around since the 1980s and have lasted and developed because of their power to make goal-setting activities much more precise and effective.

SMART is an acronym. It stands for:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Time-Bound

These five terms are not general descriptors, but criteria. Each one sets out a rubric for how an objective must be formulated to have the rigor required to be a solid business or personal aim. Let's look at each in more detail:


The “specific” part of an objective tells us what will be done in concrete terms. It identifies the specific actions that will result. In some cases it is appropriate to indicate how the action will be implemented (e.g., something will be published, a payment will be made, a contract signed). Verbs that do not work well for setting Specific objectives are: coordinate, partner, support, facilitate. These are vague and difficult to measure. On the other hand, verbs such as provide, train, publish, say, confirm, close, or purchase indicate clearly what will be done.

  • Bad Example: “I want to really raise awareness for the new product within our base”

  • Good Example: "I want to close one contract with a dental office by the end of the week”

There are many ways you might raise awareness. By clearly defining that awareness raising means "close one contract with a dental office", this objective just got a lot more specific.


Measurable implies quantitative – not qualitative – assessment of the objective. Look for the ability to count or otherwise quantify an activity or its results.

  • Bad Example: "I want a lot more people to reply to my emails"

  • Good Example: "By 1 July, I want to have 20 new deals at “proposal sent” stage in our CRM."

"A lot more people&