Why SMART is not such a clever idea

You will probably have heard that all goals should be SMART (typically Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed).

But a Chartered Psychologist say that SMART, which is so well known, isn’t much help.

Occupational psychologist Kim Stephenson writes:

"For example, usually the A stands for achievable or attainable and the R for realistic or resourced.  If a goal is realistic there must be the resources to achieve it and that means it is achievable and attainable.  So that is a bit of a waste of a letter, since it is SMAT, not SMART!"

Kim Stephenson, who writes a blog called Taming the Pound, goes on to say:

"There are lots of things that can be useful in goals - having them written down can help (you don't forget them, and you're embarrassed that other people know you've set them), wording them positively ("I will be able to do X.." not, "I won't do X any more"), having them under your control (you don't set a goal to beat Roger Federer at tennis, you set a goal to get 80 per cent of first serves in when you play him)."
He gives his own list of things that a goal really to have, in order for you to use it::

  • practical steps on the way to something of personal value in life (it is your goal and it matters to you)
  • a plan for its completion (it isn’t a vague wish)
  • an outcome that motivates you to take action every day, for as long as it takes
  • A set up that allows you to check where you are relative to your personal values.(you don’t forget about it or get confused as to whether you’re heading towards or away from your values)