RDI Corporation - What Makes a SMART Goal and How Do I Make a SMART Goal?

How to Make a Smart Goal and Achieve it?

Whether in business or your personal life, having a goal gives us something to work towards. It pushes us forward and provides a constant reminder of what we want to achieve. Goals provide the motivational energy to carry on even when motivation is low. Since goals are so important to us, it makes sense that we are successful in accomplishing them. That’s where SMART Goals come in!

History of the SMART Acronym

The SMART acronym was first written down by George T. Doran, in 1981. His paper “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to management’s goals and objectives” revolutionized how people look at achieving their goals. SMART Goals list five criteria that every goal should meet to ensure it’s able to be achieved.

What makes a goal SMART?

SMART stands for…

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely


A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal.  To set a specific goal you must answer the following questions:

  • WHO:  Who is involved? Who is responsible for the goal? Who will help them achieve the goal?
  • WHEN:  Establish a specific time frame for this to be completed.
  • WHAT:  What is my desired result?
  • HOW:  How will I resolve the issue I want to change?


An effective goal has a starting line and a finish line.  Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress by asking these questions:

  • HOW:  How often will this be completed?
  • HOW:  How will I know when my goal is accomplished?


A valuable goal will provide a challenge, but be mindful that the goal is not out of reach or too easy to attain.  Ensure that your goal meets the following qualifications:

  • ARE:  Are there outside issues that could interfere with my goal?
  • IS:  Is this something I have control over?
  • IS:  Is this goal reasonable enough to be accomplished within the time frame I’ve outlined?
  • HOW:  How can I adjust my goal so that I am in control of the outcome?


The key to completing a goal is understanding why you set it in the first place. Make sure that your goal is worthwhile and meets your needs.  Check the following questions to ensure your goal has positive motivation:

  • WHY:  Why is this goal applicable to my life?
  • HOW:  How will this make my life better or easier?


In order to prevent procrastination, a goal should be grounded within a specific time frame.  Assigning a time frame to your goal will establish a sense of urgency. This will inspire action.

  • WHEN:  When will this goal be completed?
  • HOW:  How will I know when this goal is done?

A Powerful Tool

A SMART goal is not just a method to hold ourselves accountable, it is a powerful tool we can use to move forward with our lives. We should discuss them regularly with our management teams in coaching sessions and performance reviews. Just take this quote from Bono, a celebrated musician and philanthropist:

“If the heart doesn’t find a perfect rhyme with the head, your passion means nothing.”

Only through goals can we apply our passions and change the world!


Amanda Wash
Director of QA and Learning & Development

To learn more about RDI, contact us!