Define Goals With The SMART Formula

Goal definitions for SMART people. Finally clearly define goals with the help of the SMART formula!

3 min read
Define Goals With The SMART Formula

The SMART formula is a 5-step strategy that can be used to clearly define, plan and achieve (learning) goals. It can be traced back to Peter Ferdinand Drucker. He was an American economist and is considered a pioneer of modern management theory. The SMART formula is a project management acronym. The abbreviations stand for the following criteria:

Figure: SMART formula

In the following, the individual letters are explained in more detail using an example:


If you only vaguely describe a goal for yourself, the probability of not achieving it is very high. The set goal must be specific and clearly defined.

Example: Tim would like to attend an advanced training course. He decided to do this 2 years ago. However, he has not chosen a specific course, nor has he set himself a specific timetable for further training. Now he has found a further education that interests him very much. He has set a fixed date in his calendar by when he has to register for the course and when it will take place.


The achievement of objectives must be verifiable. This means that the set goal can be verified based on data and facts.

Example: The advanced training course that Tim wants to attend ends with an exam. As soon as he has successfully passed this, he will receive a certificate. To pass the exam, he must answer at least 70% of the questions correctly.


The goal you want to achieve should be attractive and acceptable. This means that you should only associate positive and appealing feelings and thoughts with the goal. This increases the anticipation and the ambition to achieve the goal that has been set. Goals must be formulated in such a way that they are appealing and worth striving for.

Example: The advanced training course that Tim has booked can not only help him professionally but also privately after it has been successfully completed. That's why Tim is really looking forward to this course and his thoughts are consistently positive.


Goals must be realistically achievable. Setting goals that are doomed to fail in the first place leads to demotivation and negative thoughts. It is therefore important to set goals that can also be achieved. It is important to realistically assess all available resources (time, money, motivation, talent, ...).

If you have very large or long-term goals, it can be helpful to set smaller milestones.

Example 1: Since the training course requires a lot of time, Tim has discussed with his employer that he will reduce his working hours during the training period. Without this measure, Tim would probably not have completed the course because he is very busy at work and therefore would not have had enough time (resources) for the course. This makes his goal more realistic.

Example 2: Tim's training course is the first step towards a great goal. He will have to do a few further training courses before he can reach his big goal. But he is looking forward to the challenge and is happy that he took the first step.


Destinations must be provided with an exact date or time. If you set yourself a specific deadline for achieving the goal, the chance that you will achieve it is increased. A fixed date or time in the calendar increases motivation and ambition.

Example: After neglecting his plan for many years, Tim is now happy that he has his goal firmly in mind. He has set himself a fixed date by when he wants to have achieved his goal. He also has a precise schedule for his intermediate goals. Now he can tackle his goals in a structured and well-prepared manner.

Examples Of Goal Definition Using The SMART Formula

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