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By: Debra Kabalkin on December 12th, 2013

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The Problems of Setting Goals for the New Year: They Must Be SMART!

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Each one of us is in control of our future.  Whether we want to improve ourselves in our current job, striving for a promotion or new position, we must create a plan to help us achieve our aspirations.  Goals help you to create an outline of what you want to accomplish; determine a way to measure your performance; and align yourself with the vision and values of your company.


If you have trouble achieving your goals, maybe you aren’t doing it correctly. A good rule of thumb is to use the S.M.A.R.T. method.  Whenever I work with my clients with their individual and personal goals, we use this method because it has proven to be successful in helping both the employee and their manager to design goals that ensure a successful career.

SMART goals have actually been around for over 30 years with the first known use stemming from George T. Doran’s article titled “There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives in the 1981 issue of Management Review. The article discussed the importance of objectives and the difficulty in setting them and said, "Ideally speaking, each corporate, department, and section objective should be:

  • 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(s) can be achieved.”1

So what does a SMART goal look like?  Here is an example of how to take a goal and make it SMART:

Current Goal: Earn my HR Certification. VS SMART Goal: Register for a PHR prep class and join a study group beginning January 2014.  Study at least 2 hours a day to prepare for the test. Pass the PHR test on June 12, 2014.

If you need additional help on writing SMART goals and expectations, click here to read Doran’s full explanation or give us a call.  Whatever your goals are for the upcoming year, make sure they are SMART. Good luck!