Are You Being S.M.A.R.T ?

According to a Harvard study, the level of adults who actually set goals with a strategic plan is about 3% and people with written goals are 10 times more likely to reach them than those who don’t have them, as for business, a staggering 80% of small business owners don’t keep track of business goals.


So, WHAT do this elite 3% do to set them apart from everyone else, HOW do they do it and perhaps more importantly than anything else is WHY do they do it?

Author: Nicky Forster

Goalsetting frameworks are fundamental to give a person, team or organisation direction. It might seem like an unnecessary over complication, but in fact, goalsetting frameworks bring far more pros than cons and not using them effectively can have negative implications.


A question I’m often asked is “which goalsetting framework should I use to help me reach my goals?”


And there really is a simple answer to that question.


A goal framework is a structured approach to goal setting and a simple Google search will reveal a multitude of goalsetting frameworks and although they differ in terms of their specific rules and processes, they’re all generally used to simplify and manage goals to increase the likelihood of success.


So which one is best?


As with everything the best ones are the ones simplify as much as possible and there is none better than that than using the smart goalsetting framework (SMART), no one knows quite for sure who invented it and there are contradicting articles on the web attributing it to different people but the general view is that a guy called George Doran created this only as recently as 1981, although there are academic articles that go back as far as the 1920s about goal setting, goal completion and motivation linked to goals, and even though this is 40 years old, still in my view it is the best, especially if we’re talking about personal goal setting. Having said that, I recently asked my brother who works for Laing O’Rourke, a £3Billion international engineering and construction company, what framework they use and he said they use SMART goals regularly within the company.


When considering business goals at an organisational or departmental level, the added complexities of a multiple levels of the organisation can mean that OKR’s and KPI’s are more suited to this environment, however there really is not one rule for business and one rule for personal, goalsetting frameworks can be attributed when and where the user feels comfortable to do so, I often apply OKR’s and KPI’s to individual clients and regularly use SMART goals with big organisations just like Laing O’Rourke.

So, my advice to any client is always, use the framework that you feel most comfortable using and makes application of the process easiest for you.


The most common and well-known framework is SMART, it is easily applied to a specific objective and importantly time bound. One criticism of the framework is that it only looks at the end result, and does not consider the whole process, but certainly at an individual level it is super easy to use.


The original smart goalsetting formula differs slightly from modern version we know today, with the A being referred to as Assignable, specify who will do it, rather than the updated version where the A stands for Achievable, you are in control of the outcome.



  • 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.



  • Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
  • Achievable: You can do it. You are in control of the outcome.
  • Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
  • Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

As a marathon runner I often link this discipline to a framework to explain it’s a process.


  • Specific: road or trail running event
  • Measurable: 42.2 km or 26.2 miles
  • Achievable: yes, millions of people have completed the marathon distance all over the world for decades.
  • Realistic: well I’m biased but I believe that, unless there is a physical review reason preventing you from doing so, everyone has a marathon in them.
  • Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

Example – I am going to run the Madrid marathon in 2022, my goal is to complete it in sub 4 hours

It is important that before we assign any framework to a goal, we make sure that the goal is important to us personally, having an emotional attachment to any goal is vital for its long-term success. Not all goals will have tears and a heart-wrenching story, but you’d be surprised at how many are grounded in our values and purpose. The things that are important to us, family and friends, health, social interactions, our mental well-being, employment, education, personal development, all of these I call ‘The Components of Life’, we need to work on these daily, and they need to be part of our goals.


And when you find that deep meaning, a simple goal shifts into a mission, and it’s almost impossible to turn your back and not go after it.

If we can find that combination of what we love, what the world needs, what we’re good at and then what we can realistically be paid for we can create a goal that will help us build our life towards the best and happiest version of ourselves.


For advice on how to apply the SMART setting framework to your goals, whether personally or professionally

Contact me for information