SMART Goals and SMARTER Goals: What exactly are they? What say you?

I am following this conversation on

The question posed was “How can we change ourselves?” If you’ve read “Living Beyond the Maze” you have a sense about how I would answer the question.

One interesting response to the question introduces the acronym, SMART goals.

What exactly are SMART goals?

Most sources that I’ve encountered will say the letters S-M-A-R-T stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

This is not how I teach it. I have trouble seeing a useful difference between “Attainable” and “Realistic.” For me: If I can attain it, it is realistic; if it is realistic, I can attain it.

For R I like to use the word Related. All goals should be related to something.

As individuals our short-term goals should be related to our long-term goals with mid-term goals in between. Our goals should be related to what we want to get out of life and what we want to accomplish in life. They should be related to our belief system and our values.

For organizations, goals should be related to our strategy, our mission and vision. They should be related to the goals of other departments and individuals in our organization. And short-term, mid-term and long-term goals should all be related.

One discussant in the discussion enhances SMART goals to SMARTER goals. (She attributes this term to Sandler Training.)

She asserts that goals should also be Enjoyable (E) and Rewarding (R).

I totally agree and I am going to add this to my classroom lectures. If we find no joy or reward in achieving our goals, then maybe we’ve set the wrong goals.

In the same manner, for me Work is Play and Play is Work. I enjoy and find great rewards in both!

I’d love to hear your comments…

© Dr. Phil Bryant

Dr. Bryant is an Assistant Professor of Management at Columbus State University and co-author of Managing Employee Turnover.



Filed under Management Musings

3 responses to “SMART Goals and SMARTER Goals: What exactly are they? What say you?

  1. I have another definition of SMART goals. S stands for specific, M stands for measurable, A stands for achievable (at a stretch), R stands for Result (to distinguish them from activities and T stands for Time related. The classic example of a goal that meets these criteria is the one by JFK at his inauguration in 1961 – “I believe that this nation should commit (agreement)itself to achieving this goal, before the decade is out (time related) of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to earth (specific, a result and achievable – at a stretch)

  2. Tim,
    I was glad to have seen that you read this post. Thanks for the positive feedback. Proper goal setting can do much for climbing out of a rut and moving on, especially when those goals are enjoyable and rewarding. This is not to say that moving on is simple or that goal setting is the only answer. Its just one of many angles from which to approach a daunting task. For now, though, here’s to pursuing goals that are enjoyable and rewarding!

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